Stress is a natural response to the environmental changes and external stimuli that we encounter on a regular basis. It is the body’s response to any demand.
Stress is a natural and automatic response that occurs in reaction to our environment, thoughts or emotions. When we perceive a threat, our bodies prepare us to either fight or take flight by releasing hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. This stress response can be beneficial in small doses as it can help us to stay alert and focused. However, when we are constantly under stress, it can take a toll on our physical and mental health.
Chronic stress can lead to a number of health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders. Stress can also make existing health conditions worse. It is important to find ways to manage stress in order to protect our health.
It may sound like we are being alarmist, but we are not. Stress can kill you. While we don’t ever actually see “stress” listed on someone’s death certificate, it is the main culprit behind many fatal conditions. In fact, the list of common (fatal and non-fatal) disorders and ailments related to stress is longer than you think.
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Effects on the Body
- Muscle tension
- Increase in heart disease risk
- Sexual dysfunction
- Bowel problems
- Hormonal changes
Effects on the Mind
- Decreased motivation
- Lack of focus
- Feeling overwhelmed
Effects on Behavior
- Drug use
- Social isolation
Quite frankly, so many unfortunate side effects can be traced back to stress. While we can’t completely eliminate stress (we live in a world filled with stressful situations that impact our day-to-day life), we do have to find effective ways to manage it. Our lives depend on it.
Managing your Stress
If you are experiencing active symptoms of stress, try taking up activities that are known to help ease stress and stressful situations. Have you investigated stress management activities? There are so many options out there, and depending on your personality and your passions, there’s bound to be something out there that will help you deal with stress.
For some people, this means a long drive or an afternoon on the beach, completely unplugged from the “real world.” For others, sky diving or rock climbing is more effective. Listen to your body, trust your instincts and invest the time and energy into your well-being. It might seem frivolous to take an afternoon “off” to deal with overwhelming stress, but once you stop to think about how much your stress is impacting everyone around you, you’ll realize it isn’t a selfish act at all.