What Is Stress? Can Stress Affect Health?
Stress is a natural body reaction to physical, emotional, or mental changes. It can be experienced from different things in life. Both positive and negative factors affect stress.
Stress response is also called “fight or flight”. The stress response is body’s way of protecting You. When in this state body reacts to different things much better. You are much more alert, focused and have more energy.
In short – this sensation heightens Your senses. However, when at this state for too long all that stress causes harm to Your health. It can even ruin relationships, mood and quality of life.
That is why it is important to recognize and prevent causes of stress.
Fight Or Flight Response
Whenever Your body feels threatened, immune system releases certain hormones. The hormones that are being released are stress hormones. Most important ones are adrenaline and cortisol.
Your senses become sharper, muscles tighten and You feel physically stronger. Even Your focus is increased. These changes happen in order to fight or flee in face of the danger.
How Does Stress Affect Health?
It is normal to feel stress. Human body was designed to take care of it. For example, stress can be something that helps us:
- Gives Us Motivation
- Makes Us Ready For Danger
- Keeps Us Alert
- Boosts Brainpower
- It Can Help With Development In Children
However, it becomes a negative thing if it stays with you for too long. Your body needs to relax and relief between the stressors. As it stays with a person, stress related tension builds inside.
Making individual overworked and eventually burning out. The built in autonomic nervous system responds to physiological changes. Therefore, allowing the body to take care of stressful situations.
This is where the “fight or flight” response kicks in. Keep in mind that prolonged stay in this state will cause physical and emotional strain on the body.
Continued stay in stress without relaxation will cause condition called – distress. Distress causes imbalances between the body or equilibrium. Therefore, showing physical symptoms in person:
- Upset Stomach
- Pain In The Chest
- Elevated Blood Pressure
- Sexual Dysfunction
- Emotional Problems, such as depression, panic attack and other forms of anxiety.
Stress can also intensify other health disorders, such as:
- Lung Ailments
- Heart Disease
The stress can also be harmful if a person uses substances in order to get rid of it. The problem of these substances are that they are not taking care of the problem. Instead, they keep the person in stressed state and cause even more health problems.
The Effects Of Chronic Stress
Nervous system has to distinguish between emotional and physical dangers. However, sometimes the nervous system isn’t able to do that.
If You are overly stressed for something trivial like paying bills, nervous system can treat it like a life-or-death situation.
More You stress out and activate this state, the easier for Your nervous system it is to activate it. It makes harder to take care of it and turn it off.
If You are one of the people that get stressed very easily, then Your body is always existing in a heightened state of stress. That is terrible for your health!
It can lead to serious health issues. Chronic stress is able to disrupt every system in the body. It can:
- Disturb reproductive and digestive systems
- Suppress immune system
- Increase risk of heart attack and stroke
- Speed up the aging process
Health problems that occur due to the stress:
- Heart disease
- Rational thinking and memory problems
- Weight problems
- Skin diseases
- Reproductive issues
- Digestive problems
- Insomnia and other sleep probems
- Pain of any kind
- Autoimmune diseases
- Exhaustion, tiredness
- Acid reflux symptoms
- Sweaty palms
- Trembling and shaking
- Sexual dysfunction
It is dangerous because sometimes it can feel natural. We get used to it. Sometimes We don’t even notice it till it’s too late. Therefore, it is important to notice early warning signs and symptoms of stress overload.
- Using alcohol or narcotics to relax
- Distancing from other people
- Ignoring Responsibilities
- Sleeping problems
- Memory problems
- Poor judgment
- Can’t concentrate
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Frequent Cold
- Loss of sex drive
- Rapid heart rate
- Chest pain
- Aches and Pains
What Causes Stress?
All the things, situations and factors that cause stress are called – stressors. We always associate stressors as being something negative as poor relationship or very busy work schedule.
However, anything that puts a strain on you can be stressful. Even something as positive as promotion in job or winning a lottery.
However, stress can also be caused by internal factors, such as pessimistic thoughts about life. Stress entirely depends of how you perceive it.
Something that is very stressful to you might not be stressful at all for someone else. They can even feel thrilled about it! One person might have stage fright, others love to be in the spotlight.
External Causes Of Stress:
- No time for anything / busy all the time
- Difficult Relationship
- Work or school
- Major life changes
- Money problems
- Family problems
Internal Causes of Stress:
- All or nothing attitude
- Want everything to be perfect
- Lack of flexibility
10 Most Stressful Life Events
- Death of a Spouse
- Marriage separation
- Injury or Illness
- Death of a family member
- Job loss
- Marriage Reconciliation
How Much Stress Is Too Much?
As We now know stress can cause serious harm to you. Therefore, it is important to know how much exactly You can handle!
How much depends on the person. Some people are very resilient and can handle about almost anything. Others will crumble in face of frustrations and life’s challenges. Furthermore, there are even people who live for the thrill of stressful situations.
How can I increase stress tolerance?
The more You know about stressful situation, the easier You can cope with it! Most important thing is to know what to expect and how long it will last.
Be ready to deal with Your emotions
When You are feeling depressed, sad, angry or frustrated if You don’t know how to soothe Yourself You will feel stressed. Having the ability to deal with your emotions will increase stress tolerance.
How You Perceive Things
The way how You look at things determines How well can You handle stress. If You look at things from a positive perspective, You will most likely be less vulnerable. People that are resistant to stress have the ability to accept changes as an inevitable part of life.
Sense Of Control
If You are confident in Your own ability to get through life’s challenges, its easier to cope with stress. however, if You have doubts about Your abilities, You are more vulnerable to stressful situations.
Friends And Family
Network of supportive friends and family members is crucial to stress resistance. When You have people You can depend on, life’s challenges don’t seem so overwhelming. However, if You are lonely and isolated from society, You are prone to succumbing to stress.
How Can I Reduce Stress?
Learn How To Relax
Stress is a normal part of our life. You can’t eliminate it, however, You can control how much it affects You. Relaxation activities like Yoga and deep breathing help your body to relax.
When practiced daily, these activities can increase your feel of joy and reduce stress level. It increases your tolerance to stress.
Connect With Other People
Just talking with someone about problems you are having can relieve the stress. Exchange of words with someone You hold dear can calm Your nervous system. Spends as much time as you can with your loved ones, socializing is important.
Engage in Physical Activities
Everybody knows that when you do exercises you forget about other problems. Physical activities are the perfect remedy for feeling depressed, and all the negativity just goes away. Exercises like running, swimming, hiking and dancing are very effective.
Get Enough Rest
When You are feeling exhausted Your thoughts are “not there”. Therefore, it may increase your stress. So it’s very important that You get enough sleep and rest to recharge Your body.
Other Things That May Help You Reduce The Stress:
- Having a positive attitude
- Accept that there are things You can’t control
- Manage Your time efficiently
- Don’t work too hard, free some time for fun
- Spend enough time with the loved ones
Stress and Anxiety
Both stress and anxiety are emotional responses. However, stress is caused in most of the time by external trigger.
Anxiety is persistent and excessive worrying that doesn’t go away even when the stressors are gone.
Anxiety is like stress by the symptoms. Sleeping problems, difficulty to concentrate and focus, muscle tension and fatigue.
To cope with anxiety, physical activity, good nutrition and sleep hygiene is a must.