Effects of Stress on the Body
Stress is a natural physical and mental reaction to life experiences. Everyone experiences stress from time to time. Stress can be caused from anything such as everyday responsibilities such as work and family to serious life events. The body responds to stress by releasing hormones that increase heart and breathing rates.
Stress symptoms may be negatively affecting one’s health without realizing it. Illness may be to blame for irritating headache, trouble sleeping, decreased productivity, but stress may be the cause of all that.
Stress is not always bad. In small doses, it can help bring better performance when under pressure and motivate us to do our very best.
Common Effects of Stress
Stress symptoms can affect the body, thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. Being able to recognize common stress symptoms can help with managing stress. Stress that is left without managing it can contribute to many health issues such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.
Common effects of stress on the body include – headache, muscle pain, chest pain, fatigue, change in sex drive, upset stomach, sleep problems, etc.
Common effects of stress on the mood include – anxiety, restlessness, lack of motivation, trouble focusing, feeling overwhelmed, anger, sadness, depression, etc.
Common effects of stress on behaviour include – overeating, under-eating, drug misuse, alcohol misuse, tobacco use, social withdrawal, etc.
How to Manage Stress?
Taking steps to manage stress can have many health benefits in the long run. Some stress management techniques include:
Regular physical activity
Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, yoga, massage, etc.
Keeping a sense of humour
Spending time with loved ones
Setting time for hobbies
Always aim to find active ways to deal with stress. Inactive ways to manage stress such as watching TV, internet surfing, social media, video games, etc. may seem relaxing, but may increase your stress level in the long run.
Always be sure to get enough sleep, eat healthy, avoid tobacco, excess caffeine and alcohol, drugs, etc.
Having a strong network of supportive friends and family can help with stress. When there are people around that someone can count on life pressures do not seem as overwhelming. On the other hand, the lonelier and more isolated on is, there is a greater risk of being stressed.
When someone has confidence in themselves and their ability to influence events it can be easier to deal with stress. On the other hand, if one believes that they have little or no control of their life, stress is more likely to occur.
The way one looks at life and its challenges makes a difference in their ability to handle stress. If one is often hopeful and optimistic, they are less vulnerable to stress. People who embrace the challenges and have a strong sense of humour, believe in a purpose, and accept change, can deal with stress better than who do not have those values.
It is important to know how to calm and soothe oneself when feeling sad, angry, or troubled, one is more likely to be stressed then. Being able to identify and deal with the stressor can increase tolerance to stress.
The more one knows about what is causing them to stress it is easier to deal with. This includes how long it will last and what to expect of the outcome. For instance, if someone is having a surgery, there is a realistic expectation on recovery and if someone is expecting to bounce back to normal the next day, but ends up with a painful recovery, then stress can be hard to manage. In other words, one ought to know the cause of their stress.
Regular exercise can help with stress by serving as distraction from worries and allowing one to break out of the cycle of negative thoughts that feed stress. Exercises such as walking, running, swimming, etc. are very effective because they shift one’s attention to the physical sensation that one experiences while moving.
Simple acts such as talking face-to-face with another person can help with relieving stress. Even if it was small such as a brief kind exchange or a friendly look can help calm someone. It is good to spend time around people who will improve one’s mood. It is vital to have a work-life balance and having a healthy social life. If one does not have any close relationships or relationships are the cause of their stress, then a priority should be is building stronger and more satisfying connections.
The food one eats can either improve or worsen one’s mood and their ability to deal with stressors. Eating processed and convenience food, refined carbohydrates, sugary snacks, etc. can worsen one’s reaction to stress. A healthy balanced rich in fresh vegetables, fruits, high-quality protein, omega-3 fatty acids, etc. can help with coping with life stressors.
What Causes Stress?
The cause of stress is known as stressors. Stressors are often thought of as negative, such as an exhausting work schedule or a toxic relationship. In other words, anything that puts high demands on a person can be stressful. This could also include positive life events such as getting married, buying a house, going to college/university, or being promoted.
Not all stress is caused by external factors. Stress can also be internal; this is when someone worries excessively about something that may or may not happen.
What causes stress depends on how it is perceived. Something that is stressful to one person may not even faze another. For instance, some people are afraid of public speaking, but others thrive on it. One may be most productive with tight deadlines and others shut down when work demands escalate. Some may enjoy helping take care of their parents, others may find it overwhelming and stressful.
Common External Causes of Stress:
Major life events
Work or school
Common Internal Causes of Stress
Inability to accept uncertainty
Lack of flexibility
Top 10 Stressful Life Events
Death of a spouse
Death of a close family member
Injury or illness