Research confirms the effect stress can have on your health. The impact it has on your health, both physical and mental, can be very harmful.
In the world we live in today, everything appears to be so fast paced that we can hardly cope, everyone has to face their own challenges, and often the pressure of these challenges are too much for a person to handle.
Stress can be good in small doses and can help to keep you on top of things particularly for work and study preparations and in the fight and flight response is vital for survival in all living creatures.
But when chronic stress gets on top of you it can cause serious risk factors for health, both mental and physical.
How is Stress Caused?
The effects of being under stress do not only put your head in a vice, chronic stress places all kinds of burdens on your body, even your brain. Technological advances, instead of making the work load easier, have actually lengthened the business day.
The quest for material wealth sees business men on holiday walking on the beach, talking on their cell phone or sitting working on their laptops.
They never seem able to escape the workday, even when on holiday. Leisure time has become virtually unheard of.
Job security is a thing of the past, not too many people own security blankets and divorce rates are at the highest they have ever been, these situations all factor into the effects stress can have on you.
Top 10 Stress Factors
- The death of a Spouse
- Separation in a marriage
- A term in jail
- The death of a dear relative
- Illness and injury
- Believe it or not, Marriage
- Being fired from job
- Reconciliation in a marriage
How Does Stress Affect Us?
Chronic stress is worn by people almost as though it is a badge of courage, this should not be so as the risk factors for health are even more profound than can be imagined.
Stress can literally change the physical make up of both the body and brain.
Chronic stress sufferers can become sensitized, this means that they become acutely sensitive to stress and the tiniest stressful situation is able to trigger chemicals reactions in the body and brain causing serious risk factors for health.
The brain virtually re-circuits itself in response to this reaction and while we might believe that we are not reacting to being late for an appointment, our brain is reacting as though our very lives were on the line.
Risk Factors for Health
Research has found that the risk factors for health caused by chronic stress causes as much as 60 to 90% of all illnesses. Physical symptoms include damage to the cardiovascular system, and even affect the immune system.
This compromises your body’s ability to fight infection and disease.
The effects that stress has on the digestive system can cause chaos. In fact stress is even able to prevent women from conceiving, and stunted growth in children. And yes, children also suffer from the stress, both in and outside the womb!
There is a virtually unending list of medical conditions that are attributed to stress including but not exclusive to: Chronic unexplained pain, High blood pressure, Ulcer, Heartburn, Migraine, Heart disease, Asthma, PMS, Diabetes, Obesity, Infertility, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Autoimmune Diseases, and Skin problems
Chronic Stress and Emotional Well-being
Chronic stress causes emotional damage that is compounded by physical illness. It pounds away at your mental health, leaving you unable to cope with even the smallest of everyday pressures. Stress suffered in the long-term can cause mental health problems like anxiety, eating disorders, depression and substance abuse.
It is not accidental that physical symptoms are experienced when you are in a stressful situation. These are defense mechanisms, your body’s natural response to threat. If these responses are continually stimulating stress on the human body, it can make you more susceptible to life threatening health problems.
The stress response or fight or flight response is the way in which the body responds automatically, and changes into high gear to deal with physical threats.
When your body encounters such a threat the Hypothalamus (situated at the base of the brain) sets off the alarm. A combination of nerve and chemical signals tells the adrenal glands to release adrenalin and cortisol. Adrenaline increases heart rate and increases blood pressure; cortisol increases blood sugar and makes the brain more able to use that glucose release.
Cortisol also stimulates chemicals in your body to speed up tissue repair. Cortisol also curbs non essential function such as the digestive system, growth processes and the reproductive system. These chemicals also affect the centers of the brain that control mood, fear and motivation.
The stress response is self regulating, and things generally go back to normal once the threat is over.
However long term stimulation of the stress response and exposure to
cortisol and other stress hormones disrupts many of the natural
processes of the body.
This results in heart and digestive problems, memory impairment,
depression, physical illness and a whole host of other health related
Parents tend to believe that all children and teens are stress free and live happy carefree lives.
This is not true, even very young children worry and experience stress to a degree.
Stress leaves no-one unscathed, even preschoolers suffer from stress caused by separation anxiety. The quest to fit in and achieve to satisfy a parents needs is one of the greatest causes of stress in children.