How does stress affect health

The best way to describe stress is when your mind and body are placed under undue difficulty or strain. As soon as that happens stress hormones are typically released into the body, which is intended as a benefit to help you deal with the impending situation. Unfortunately our bodies have not yet evolved enough to actually realize that the majority of stress that we feel is not life-threatening. This is the main reason why excessive stress has such a detrimental and devastating effect on our health.

There are many causes of stress and you could actually say that as human beings we are always stressed. Even something as simple as crossing the street will have our mind and body going into overdrive to ensure that we are being attentive. Stress can often have a beneficial side, for example when we hear really bad news the stress may actually compel us to do something about it. It is actually the way in which we perceive stress that is the problem. Whenever we are put into a stressful situation we will react in a certain way. The reaction will typically come in two forms, whereby you either become increasingly stressed striving to find a solution to your problem, or it all seems too much and pushes you towards depression. Either way stress can adversely affect your health.

If you are someone who suffers from excessive stress there are certain symptoms that you need to look out for:

  • Firstly there may be physical symptoms that have come about because of stress. Unfortunately there is no way of knowing as they may either come on suddenly or gradually appear over a period of time. These physical symptoms can cause some serious problems for your health. These include high blood pressure, chest pain, cold hands and feet, fatigue, sweaty palms, sleep problems, acne, irregular heartbeat, headaches, diarrhoea, an increased amount of infections such as colds and flu, hair loss and weight loss.
  • Not only do you have to deal with these physical symptoms there are also the more difficult to detect psychological symptoms. These are typically more obvious to those around you than you yourself. Psychological symptoms will include depression, nervousness, irritability, moodiness, a lack of concentration, problems with your memory, overreacting to certain situations, having trouble coping with certain situations, becoming argumentative or withdrawn.

As you can probably tell it is quite easy to allow stress to take over your life and this will eventually have some very serious effects on your health. It is important to learn certain stress management techniques to deal with these situations whenever they may hit.

  • You should always take some time out for yourself and ensure that you get some relaxation time. Even if this just means taking 10 minutes or so completely relax, then do it.
  • Although it is far easier said than done, try to remain optimistic. It is important to look on the bright side of things. Remember that every cloud has a silver lining! If you are able to view things from a positive perspective, this will do much for your stress levels and indeed your declining health.
  • One of the main reasons that we suffer from stress in the modern day is because many of us do not know how to say no. There are only so many hours in a day and you are merely piling more pressure on yourself by failing to decline many requests from other people. Learn to be more assertive and if you cannot do something, then don’t attempt it.
  • Time management and organization is a great way to relieve stress. Many people spend their day running around manically with no particular clue as to what they need to do next. One of the easiest ways to effectively “manage” your day is to make a “to do” list. This will allow you to fully structure your day and can help to keep your stress at bay.

There are also many things that you can do to reduce the impact of stress and some of these things are actually vital in keeping yourself healthy. You should look to take regular exercise as, believe it or not, your stress hormones were actually designed with physical exertion in mind. By taking regular exercise you will find that more stress hormones will be used up inside your body which will make new stressful situations far easier to deal with. You should also eat a balanced diet that is full of vital vitamins, minerals and nutrients. Once again, this is not only great for your health, but can improve your ability to deal with stress. In order to combat stress you should reduce your intake of stimulants. These include tea, coffee, soft drinks and pain medications. Unfortunately these stimulants can just make stress feel so much worse and they aren’t really doing your health that much good.

Last updated on Apr 1st, 2011 and filed under Mental Health. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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