Stress has become a part of our lives – be it scoring good marks, staying ahead of your competitors, or personal health issues, we carry the baggage all day on our shoulders. Mostly, it multiplies when we get introduced a new challenge or need to fulfil a demand. Stress generally shows up in the form of physical or emotional tension.
It is true that everybody goes through this process, but in some cases, it harms your health. Today, we will be sharing a few insights on how stress can create a negative impact on our health and what should be your next step.
What is Stress?
Stress is a reaction to a challenge or instant demand that can be appear to the naked eyes in the form of emotions or physical interaction. For instance, let’s say you came across a situation that is dangerous, your brain will immediately send a signal via nerves to the adrenals (situated on top of kidneys) to churn out hormones that might increase your heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, or muscle tensions. Adrenals are glands that play a key role in churning out cortisol and adrenaline hormones.
Acute, or short-term, stress passes fast, as in the case of an argument or fleeing a house fire. However, chronic stress may last a bit longer and your body in response to it stays in alert position.
Things that Chronic Stress Can Do To Your Body
Here are a few psychological and physical signs that may show up if your stress is chronic, i.e., continues for weeks.
1. Asthma Flare-Ups
Asthma is a health condition that might get triggered by stress or strong emotions. In fact, if you already an asthma patient, excessive stress can worsen your symptoms as it directly affects your breathing system. Even if you are not an asthma patient, breathing can get affected. Additionally, you might notice that the muscles have tighten up.
The best way to reduce stress is to do mindful breathing. All you need to is inhale via the nose (for 7 seconds), hold it for 7 seconds, and exhale via the mouth slowly. Make sure that your focus is more on your breathing and less on your thoughts.
Try to do this exercise thrice for better results.
2. Gastrointestinal Issues
People often think that gastrointestinal issues occur due to spicy food or empty stomach, but at times gastrointestinal issues happen due to stress and anxiety. There are certain hormones in the body that after release start interfering with the digestive system. This interference results in health issues, such as constipation, indigestion, diarrhea, nausea, appetite loss, stomach cramps, etc.
In some cases, people also develop issues such as irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS – characterized by discomfort and episodes of diarrhea and constipation.
3. Hair Loss
Another common sign of stress is hair loss which most of the people face and get worried about. Be it a fight with your loved one, death of closed person, family issues, or any other issue, stress can happen due to any reason and if it lasts longer it might result in hair fall.
Your hair will cease falling out once the stress has passed. Also, for your hair to grow back to its typical volume, it could take six to nine months.
People who suffer from trichotillomania, a disorder in which they constantly pull off their hair, may also be affected by stress and worry. Before pulling out their hair, people with this disorder frequently describe feeling stressed. The best treatment for this disorder – cognitive behavioral therapy, medication, and habit reversal training.
4. Heart Issues
A rise in heart rate is your body’s first cardiovascular reaction to stress. Prolonged stress causes the blood vessels to contract more, which in turn elevates blood pressure. Your risk of cardiovascular issues such as high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, and heart attacks increases as a result.
For example, work-related stress affects a large number of people: between 10% and 40% of employed individuals report experiencing work-related stress, and 33% of these individuals report severe chronic stress. Cardiovascular disease is more common in people who encounter work-related stress.
A person’s risk of stroke is 22% higher in high-stress occupations than in low-stress occupations. Work that involves psychological demands, such as mental strain, coordination difficulties, and time constraints, is referred to as high-stress employment. Stress also arises from having little control over the amount of effort required of them at work and how hard their jobs are demanded of them.
Lack of physical activity, overeating, and unhealthy eating habits are a few factors that can increase your risk of heart disease and even stroke. Prolonged stress can negatively affect blood pressure and mental health, two conditions that can raise the risk of heart disease and stroke.
The only solution to overcome this situation is change in the lifestyle. Adapt a healthy lifestyle by eating less added sugar foods and saturated fat. Also, increase your intake of fruits, green vegetables, and whole grains. Control your mind and quit smoking. Take part in moderate-intensity physical activities for at least 150 minutes per week. Also, increase your intake of water and avoid sugary drinks.
Whether it means taking time off from work when necessary or making extra time for your loved ones, try to find ways to handle the stressors in your life and try to minimize their effects. Meditation and mindfulness are other options.
While working in the office do you feel too much pain in the head? Well! It can be due to excessive stress and pressure you are handling. Tension headaches and migraines can result from stress, either during the stressful event itself or during the “let-down” period that follows.
The most prevalent kind of headache is tension headache. They usually occur in the head, scalp, or neck area and feel like a “band is squeezing the head”. Stress can exacerbate an existing headache by causing your muscles to stiffen.
With medicines, you can get rid of these headaches but the right method is to modify your diet and lifestyle. There are various other practices for stress management that you can try for yourself, such as Acupuncture, Cognitive behavioral feedback, Massage, Mindful meditation, Ice or hot packs.
In addition to its potential benefits for relaxation, anxiety, and self-esteem, exercise can also assist you manage stress. Try yoga, aerobics, weightlifting, or recreational sports like volleyball or basketball.
6. High Blood Sugar
Since stress is known to increase blood sugar, people with type 2 diabetes may notice that their blood sugar rises during stressful situations. Stress has been linked to higher levels of cortisol, glucose, and insulin resistance.
In one study, individuals with high levels of stress had a lower likelihood of adhering to food and exercise regimens for the treatment of diabetes.
7. Increased Appetite
A short-term stress response could be the cause of your lack of appetite. On the other hand, prolonged stress causes your body to release the hormone cortisol, which boosts hunger and causes you to eat more sugary and fattening foods. Consuming foods high in saturated fat and sugar might cause weight gain.
Furthermore, you may overeat or choose unhealthy foods when you feel stressed out and associate food with good feelings. This phenomenon is known as stress or emotional eating.
Knowing your triggers and being prepared for when stress is likely to strike are crucial. This entails storing up on protein- and fat-rich, well-balanced snacks. Steer clear of sugary and saturated fat-rich snacks. Exercise can also help you manage stress and enhance your general health.
Hyperarousal, a biological state in which humans lack a drowsy feeling, can be brought on by stress. Stress is a prominent cause of insomnia, a sleep condition characterized by persistent difficulties sleeping and staying asleep.
While long-term exposure to chronic stress can interrupt sleep and contribute to sleep disorders, big stressful events can also create insomnia that resolves on their own.
Prioritize restful sleep and proper sleeping habits; create an environment that encourages restful sleep.
Try avoid drinking alcohol, beverages, or large meals before going to bed. Also, caffeine during the evening or in the night. Put down your gadgets and TV to off to avoid distractions. In addition, you can attempt cognitive-behavioral therapy or yoga or any stress-relieving exercise during the day to help with anxiety in addition to your stress and insomnia.
9. Memory Issues
Although the exact relationship between stress and memory is still unknown, experts think stress affects both, particularly in the classroom, learning and memory.
Exams, assessments, and deadlines are just a few of the stressful situations that teachers and students encounter in the classroom. Stress and education do have an impact on memory and learning. It’s unclear, though, if this will have a beneficial or bad effect. In certain cases, stress can improve memory, while in others, it might make memory worse.
It’s uncertain how long stress affects memory for and when memory starts to deteriorate. Furthermore, it’s unclear if these deficits are influenced by the kinds and severity of the stresses.
Unfortunately, there is insufficient data to advise educators and students on how to reduce stress in their daily lives. Nonetheless, moderate exercise, adequate sleep, meditation, and avoiding coffee can all help those who are under stress.
10. Premature Aging
Prolonged stress and traumatic experiences can both accelerate the aging process. This occurs as a result of stress shortening cell telomeres. The caps that shield cell chromosome ends are called telomeres. Your cells age more quickly when the telomeres are shortened.
11. Reduced Sex Drive
Your mental state influences your level of sexual desire, so stress, for example, might actually lower your sex drive. Reduced levels of sexual arousal are linked to high levels of stress. This is linked to hormonal and psychological variables that are present in individuals who endure prolonged stress.
Stress reduction and management can frequently improve sexual dysfunction, but there are other potential causes as well, such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. For this reason, it’s crucial to speak with a healthcare professional.
12. Skin Issues
Stress can exacerbate skin conditions or issues. In particular, acne is impacted by stress. Although stress does not directly cause acne, it can exacerbate its symptoms. The severity of your acne worsens with increased stress.
And stress can exacerbate psoriasis. A growing number of medical professionals are beginning to use stress-reduction methods like biofeedback and meditation in their psoriasis treatment regimens.
Ways to Manage Your Stress
Even while stress can affect your body and mind in a variety of ways, there are strategies to manage and lessen it. Once you get a command over your body, you can fight back all battles (health conditions) without the need of any medication and guidance. All you need to do is determine what is best for you. Here are some long-term stress management strategies:
- Regular Exercise – The average adult should try to get 150 minutes of exercise per week.
- Relax your Body and Mind – Try practicing meditation, yoga, or muscle relaxation exercises to keep your mind and body free from stress.
- Try to Get Proper Nap – The majority of adults require seven hours or more of sleep per night.
- Steer clear of caffeine-containing foods and beverages.
- Work on Time Management – Choose which activities must be completed right away and which ones can wait.
- Seek assistance from your friends and relatives.
There might be tension in life and every other person goes through it in their lives. Chronic stress affects your body and general well-being, even if symptoms might not show up right away. Fortunately, stress may be managed in a variety of ways. Make an effort to identify your triggers and devise strategies to eliminate or minimize them. If you struggle to control your stress on your own, ask a healthcare professional for assistance.
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