Effects of stress on the body

Life is full of frustrations, deadlines, annoyances, hassles, and unrelenting demands. As humans living life, we are required to deal with these things, whether we want to or not. Therefore, stress is very common; even more common is that people accept it as a natural every day thing. And indeed it is natural, but only to a certain extent. If you don’t ever take the time to slow down and let your mind and body recuperate from stress, you will pay the price—physically, mentally, and emotionally. Stress is very taxing, and when it is not dealt with, so are its consequences. Many people don’t realize the effects of stress and blame its consequences on other things, but your body knows when it is time to take action against this all-consuming thing.

What is Stress?
Stress is the body’s normal physiological response to any change that requires a response or adjustment. It’s a normal part of life. The body is a marvelous machine, and the stress response is a form of protection. It typically keeps you alert, energetic, focused, motivated, but beyond that, it can cause damage to your most prized possession: your body. It can hurt your health, your mood, your productivity, your relationships, and your quality of life. A thing to remember is that, to your body, all stress is the same. To your mind it is different, but whether you are reacting to a life-or-death situation or a busy schedule, the stress response is identical.

Enough is Enough
Each person’s tolerable limit of stress is different; some people handle it better than others. Identifying your boundaries is a great thing of which to be aware. A person’s ability to tolerate stress depends on the quality of relationships, general outlook on life, emotional aptitude, and genetics.

Long-Term Stress Exposure
Long-term exposure to stress leads to serious health consequences. These consequences include:

  • Elevated blood pressure.
  • Suppressed immune system, which makes you more likely to get sick.
  • Increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and blood clots.
  • Infertility in both men and women.
  • Sped up aging process.
  • Heightened susceptibility to anxiety and depression.
  • Worsened existing medical conditions, including pain of any kind, heart disease, digestive problems, sleep problems, depression, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune diseases, and skin conditions.

Other Physical Symptoms
Other physical symptoms tend to be present when stress becomes too much for the body to handle. They include stomach upset, nausea, diarrhea, headache, appetite changes, chest pain, fast heartbeat, fast breathing, stiff neck, tight shoulders, back pain, sweating, and sweaty palms.

Effects on Emotions
Stress can change the way you think, act, and feel. It can make you feel:

  • Cranky and unable to deal with the tiniest of problems.
  • Frustrated to the point where you often lose your temper and yell at others for no reason.
  • Jumpy and tired.
  • Unable to focus on important tasks.
  • Worried too much about things you shouldn’t be worrying about.
  • That you are missing out on things because you can’t act quickly.
  • Like bad things are going to happen simply because you’re imagining them.
  • Like crying all the time.

Effects on Behavior
Stress can make you do things that you wouldn’t otherwise do, such as overeat, undereat, have anger outbursts, use drug or alcohol, smoke, withdrawal from society, have crying spells, and cause conflicts with relationships.

Managing Stress
As you can see, it is important to take the necessary steps to manage your stress levels. However, management is different for everyone because the technique that works for one person may not work for another. Try exercise, yoga, meditation, and different relaxation techniques to see what works the best for you.

Last updated on Sep 13th, 2011 and filed under Mental Health. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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