Before we discuss alternative ways to manage stress, we must understand how it affects us and what it is responsible for.
Stress can be defined as a state of physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension that results from adverse or demanding circumstances. It can also be used to describe a chronic state of imbalance in response to stressful events.
A mild level of stress and tension can be beneficial especially when fulfilling an assignment. It helps us to do a good job and complete the task in a timely fashion. Stress is also needed in order to keep ourselves out of harm’s way. It is meant to be a temporary response and our bodies are meant to return to their normal state after the situation has passed. It is only when stress is poorly managed the negative effects appear. So, what are the negative effects of stress?
This article will discuss;
The body’s response to stress
- The different types of stress
- The different types of stressors
- The psychological effects of stress
- The physical effects of stress
- Why it’s important to keep stress balanced
The Body’s Response to Stress
Stress activates the energy response system in your body. The hormones adrenaline, nor-adrenaline, and cortisol are released to increase your breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure. And reserves of blood cells and sugar flood the bloodstream.
In small doses, this response activates the immune system. But in excess, it causes immune suppression. In turn, immune suppression is the contributing factor to 95% of all illness. In fact, it is reported that 70% to 90% of all doctor visits are due to stress-related complaints with varying symptoms.
Types of Stress
Stress affects nearly everyone in one form or another. The most common types are:
- Acute. This is the fight or flight response that the body uses to defend itself and usually lasts for a short period before your body returns to normal. Examples that can trigger this kind of stress are getting caught in a traffic jam, an argument with your spouse or friend, or criticism from your boss.
- Traumatic. This type of stress happens when a person is no longer in danger but feels stressed or frightened after experiencing a shocking, scary, or dangerous event. Examples that can trigger this kind of stress are a car accident, a building on fire, a report of war on the news, the death of a loved one, or sexual, verbal, or physical abuse.
- Chronic. This is the constant strain of daily life in which the sufferer feels they have little or no control. Examples that can trigger this type of stress are the death of a loved one, a divorce, loss of a job, financial obligations, getting married, moving to a new house, or chronic illness.
Types of Stressors
A stressor can be defined as any event, experience, or environmental stimulus that causes stress in a person. The different types of stressors are:
- Biological. This is caused by exposure to bacteria, viruses, molds, and parasites.
- Chemical. This is caused by exposure to toxins, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, heavy metals, household and industrial chemicals, fumes, dust, smoke, tobacco, and synthetic drugs.
- Environmental. This is caused by exposure to extreme cold or heat, noise, ultraviolet light, changes in barometric pressure, altitude changes, allergens, electromagnetic waves, and radiation.
- Nutritional. This is caused by food allergies, refined and processed foods, mineral depleted foods, nutritional deficiencies, alcohol, and drugs.
- Physical. This is caused by high blood pressure, strenuous physical activity, surgery, trauma, starvation, dehydration, lack of oxygen, intoxication, drug use, sleep deprivation, severe illness, infection, or having a baby.
- Psychological. This is caused by depression, anger, fear, anxiety, worry, desire, grief, loss, mental illness, major change, mental trauma, and overwhelming responsibility.
- Spiritual. This is caused by a sense of the loss of meaning in life.
All factors that are considered to be stressors strongly affect psychological and physical functions.
Psychological Effects of Stress
The brain is part of the nervous system. It is responsible for basic body functions, movement, senses, intelligence, learning, and memory. When stressed, we may suffer from psychological effects. These include:
- chronic fatigue syndrome
- lack of concentration
- migraine headaches
- poor memory
- sleep deprivation
Physical Effects of Stress
When the body is under stress, it is using more energy. The result is that the body’s energy supply is depleted because nutrients are being converted to energy. This can cause:
- adrenal fatigue
- aging and early death
- poor athletic performance
- breathing problems
- cardiovascular dysfunction
- digestion issues
- poor eyesight
- impaired immune system
- liver damage
- poor muscle and bone health
- impaired mind-body-spirit health
- sexual and hormonal disorders
- disorders with skin, hair, and nails
- sleep problems
- damaged urinary system
- weight gain
Stress affects every area of the body. And it affects each one of us differently. Our symptoms and ailments will differ from person to person based off of personality, environment, and the duration of being in a stressful situation.
The Importance of Managing Stress
This article helped us see that;
- stress is the leading cause of illness and disease,
- the three main types of stress are acute, traumatic, and chronic,
- stress factors can be biological, chemical, environmental, nutritional, physical, psychological, and spiritual,
- stress puts our mental and emotional health is at risk and,
- our physical health suffers because our energy supple becomes depleted.
So it is necessary to keep stress under control. If not kept in check, our health, well-being, and vitality are in danger.
The next article with discuss my favorite stress management books.
As always, if you have questions, please feel free to leave a comment below.
Thank you, Danica at Let’s Roll With the Punches
*References from Healthline, The American Institute of Stress, and the book Adaptogens Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief.