Are you experiencing restless or disturbed sleep? Are you moody and burst out without any reason? Are you forgetting little things and feeling isolated? If you replied positively, you are probably stressed out. Chronic stress, such as stress due to workload or constant arguments at home, affects our brain size, functions, and structure.
Psychologists explain stress as the process by which we view and reciprocate to certain events or stressors, that we view as challenging or threatening. Stress is a reaction to a disruptive stimulus.
3 Categories of Stressors:
There exist 3 prominent categories of stressors.
- Catastrophes or unpredictable events: These include wars, natural disasters, and terrorist attacks. Currently, what the whole world is facing is the global corona crisis – COVID-19, which is generating stress throughout the population.
- Significant lifestyle changes: Moving to a new place, losing jobs, death of loved ones, new school, and new home.
- Every day inconveniences: Getting caught in traffic, going late to the office, or dealing with your roommates, office colleagues, teacher’s expectations, problems with friends, common workplace stressors, etc.
Of late, stress is a part and parcel of our life while we live in modern society, and it can affect our health adversely. When stressed, it may make one approach refrigerators to eat more or light up cigarettes leading to addiction. When you are depressed, you may avoid exercise that in turn starts affecting your health adversely. Stress has a significant effect on our physiological health i.e. on our body and triggers the primary flight and fight response. Stress also affects our psychological state, bodies, and overall health.
Many of us lead a stressful life and build the effects of stress every single day. Over time, we put excess strain on our bodies, and consistent stress can affect our body internally that can lead to various serious long-term illnesses. When life stressors are constant, our stress response that is a fight and flight response stays activated and puts excess strain on our physiology, and it can do really serious damage to our body. It’s no surprise that we hear more and more people suffering from heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and more.
The effects of both positive and negative emotions are much stronger than what we think. People with positivity can live longer and lead a better and more pleasant life than those who are stressed, negative, and grumpy. When we are angry or sad, we often overestimate the duration of our bad moods and underestimate our capacity to adapt and bounce back from tantrums even if things are hopeful.
Chronic stress and depression make one more vulnerable to various diseases, thereby affecting our health and well-being badly. What is psychological becomes biological. We all experience stress daily or, at times, every hour. Stress can build and simmer and then suddenly develop with severe intensity.
Long-term stress is a very serious problem. It can lead to serious long-term illnesses that can drastically alter our lives.
10 Health Conditions Resulting Due to Chronic Stress:
Consistent stress over time contributes to the development of serious illnesses which includes:
1) Heart disease:
Chronic stress causes increased stress on the heart and affects blood pressure adversely. Each time when you’re stressed, you put extra stress on your heart, and your blood pressure increases. The stress on your heart and circulatory system over time leads to heart attack and coronary heart disease. The prolonged stress causes increased blood clotting. When stressed for a long time, your blood clots prevent the free flow of blood throughout your body and forms sticky platelets in your blood that leads to heart attacks and strokes.
2) Joints and muscle pain:
Chronic stress triggers inflammatory responses in the body, thereby leading to myalgia and joint pains. It also causes tensions and tightness in the muscles.
3) Disturbed Immune system:
When stressed, your immune system is suppressed. Over time and consistent activation of the stress response causes a reduction in your immunity and lowered immune defenses which can lead to cancer, infections, autoimmune conditions, and other diseases.
4) Suppressed digestion:
Brain and gut are closely linked to each other; an anxious mind can lead to an anxious gut. If you are stressed, your digestive system can be suppressed. Over time, it can lead to weight gain, digestive disturbances, and even obesity. Plenty of people, who are stressed, suffer from acid reflux.
5) Increased blood sugar levels:
Stress increases the sugar levels in our blood, thereby leading to diabetes, obesity, kidney failure, nerve damage, and even vision problems over time.
6) Decreased anti-aging growth hormones:
If you are stressed regularly, your body continues to reduce the flow of the anti-aging growth hormones. Many studies show that reduction in these growth hormones can lead to premature aging. So, when under stress, you age faster.
7) Reduction in sex hormones:
Stress reduces our sex hormones; there are significant researches on how stress affects one’s sex drive and libido. Long-term stress can seriously affect sex life and has an impact on self-image and relationships. It leads to sexual dysfunction and even infertility. Because of stress, the cases of infertility are increasing.
8) Increase in stress hormones:
Regular activation of our stress response floods our body with stress hormones. Adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol to name a few of them. Over time, this can lead to anxiety, insomnia, serious memory and concentration impairments, osteoporosis, addiction, and even depression. Medical studies indicate that a high concentration of cortisol levels over your lifetime can lead to Alzheimer’s disease and senile dementia.
9) Liver problem:
Chronic stress disrupts the function of the liver. Usually, the liver helps to remove fat and cholesterol from your blood. A stressed liver can’t function properly and the extra fats and cholesterol start circulating in your blood.
10) Skin Aging and Hair Loss:
When suffering from chronic stress, your skin loses its elasticity, hairs become dull and brittle which leads to hair loss, and you may experience delayed healing and acne.
It’s time now to take consider ways to reverse the effects of stress in our life. So, we need to figure out how can we regulate and minimize stress.
10 Simple Stress Management Techniques to Lead a Better Life:
Here are some helpful tips that can help you lead a better life.
1) Exercise: Exercise is a crucial part of everyone’s life. Indulge in physical activity. When you exercise daily, your brain releases endorphins that make you feel that you are more in control. Find something which you enjoy and do it daily.
2) Have a sense of perspective: It is not the event that causes stress, but it’s the way we look at it that causes stress. So, if you look at challenges positively, you can manage your stress successfully.
3) The act of smiling broadly, even if you are not happy, can lift your mood, so do smile for some time daily.
4) Try relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, and listening to music.
5) Manage your time; prioritize your tasks, and make a task list if you are overburdened.
6) Talk to someone; sharing your problems will help to reduce your tensions.
7) Get at least 6-7 hours of sound sleep.
8) Drink a lot of water.
9) Eat nutritious foods.
10) Focus on your strengths.
Fear, irritability, anxiety, and anger are closely related to what we call stress. Stress is so powerful that it straight away kills you in many ways when given an opportunity as we saw how seriously it impacts our lives. So, learn to manage your stress by making simple lifestyle changes and, if needed, take medical help.