The Physical Effects Of Stress On Your Body
Deadlines. Bad days. Appointments. Bills.
They all seem to come at us faster than we can handle them and more times than not we pretend to be okay with the pace at which our lives are moving. We have become conditioned to believe that our accomplishments are not as valid if they don’t come with feelings and effects of stress and anxiety hitting us in the face. Still, we find comfort in knowing we’re always accomplishing bigger things even when the little things just can’t seem to get done and checked off our to-do list.
Even when we become superheroes, created for the satisfaction of our own wild overworked imaginations, we tend to be hindered by that one villain called stress who comes at us like a storm on a sunny day when we least expect it. Not to mention the feelings that come with it and the chain reaction it triggers just by existing. It is perhaps, like all things, easy to cope with in small doses but excessively dangerous in large amounts.
So why is it important to keep our stress levels to a minimum, to give ourselves a limit, and to take a breather in the midst of it all? We must remember that the physical effects of stress can be good as they can be bad. How do we differentiate between the two and how can prolonged negative stress affect us in the long run?
Protect Your Energy
Our bodies are vessels fueled by energy and our reactionary instincts to keep getting things done. Stress may be defined as any change in the environment that requires your body to react and adjust in response. The body reacts to these changes with physical, mental, and emotional responses. We tend to ignore the signs that typically follow excessive stress and have basically been conditioned, throughout our years of schooling and working, that stress is necessary when it comes to accomplishing the most important things.
I can relate and attest to the repercussions of allowing oneself to be constantly affected by negative stress. It is important for a millennial woman to understand the risks that come with long-term stress and preserving one’s mental, physical and emotional health. According to the American Psychology Association’s annual stress report: In 2017, millennials were shown to have the highest level of stress, which has been a recurring trend since 2014. The survey found that this particular generation was experiencing an average stress level of 5.7. This is perhaps indicative of the problems faced by millennials who have spent much of their young lives attempting to disprove theories of being too privileged or inadequate in the eyes of society.
Nonetheless, as per these findings, it is quite obvious that at the rate we’re going, we’ll all be sick, and perhaps too sick then, to become all the things we’ve worked so hard for. It is evident that there is a necessity for millennials to practice mindfulness and awareness of stress-inducing habits and find ways to reduce them or- what may seem more challenging- ways to cope with their stress. We aren’t always able to control the things in our immediate and distant environments that affect us, however, we can attempt to ignore some things and change the things we allow to create negative stress.
The Physical Effects Of Stress On Your Body
Humans are built to endure and react to most of the things life throws our way. Yet when we have too much on our plates, our immune system crashes and we become sick; which is a sign from our bodies that we need to take it easy. The effects of stress are typically the same and can affect us physically as drastically as it affects us mentally. Constant stress on the human body has the ability to make one feel as if they are going through a severe case of permanent exhaustion.
The body’s natural reaction to anxiety or stress is to release cortisol into the bloodstream. It works by quickening your heartbeat, giving your brain more oxygen, and releasing extra energy to help your body deal with that stress. However, the real problem lies when anxiety and stress become more frequent causing one’s brain to limit the amount of cortisol it sends into the bloodstream, making you feel like you just can’t go any further.
According to Christopher Bergland, cortisol, is public enemy number one and elevated cortisol levels are capable of interfering with learning and memory, lowering immune function and bone density, increasing weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol, as well as the risk of heart disease Additionally, it states that chronic stress and elevated cortisol levels also increase risk for depression, mental illness, and lower life expectancy. Stress is, essentially, then separated into eustress and distress. Eustress refers to “good” stress that releases cortisol inappropriate levels necessary for boosting us and giving us that “oomph” we need to get a particularly stressful activity done.
Adversely, distress refers to stress that is “bad” which produces cortisol in such high amounts that it renders us almost useless and unable to function properly in a stressful situation. Overall, stress in appropriate amounts stimulates and keeps us engaged with the world moment-to-moment. Subsequently, when stress gets too much we tend to turn to suppressants such as alcohol, tobacco, or drugs in an attempt to cope and relieve that stress. However, instead of relieving stress and returning the body to a relaxed state, these substances keep the body in a stressed state and intensifies that which already affects the individual.
Take It Slow
Studies have shown that forty-three percent of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress and seventy-five percent to 90% of all doctor’s office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints. Additionally, it has been identified that stress plays a significant role in ailments such as headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety.
Stress has various effects on the body depending on how long one endures a continuous bout of stressful activity. The dangers that come with excess stress are far worse than the measures we can take to ease that stress. Prevention is indeed better than cure, especially in this case.
Here are some ways one can alleviate and avoid the physical effects of stress and its symptoms:
- Meditate: However you can, wherever you are, take a moment when stress hits to center yourself and your thoughts. The Calm app is a great tool to help make this easier.
- Indulge In Regular Physical Activity: Do a little walking or a little yoga maybe. Your physical health has much to do with the way your mind and body reacts to stressors.
- Get More Sleep: Sleepless nights and days aren’t the keys to getting that overdue paper done. Allow your body to rejuvenate and heal with some much-needed rest
- Talk To Someone: Sometimes it helps to flesh your problems out with someone who relates to you or understands your situation. Talk to a friend or even a professional about how you feel.
- Manage Your Time: Time management helps us to create and maintain order in our heads on the days we feel like we have a million things to do. Write it down, accomplish what you can, and leave the rest for another day.
It is the year 2018 and the age of the millennial could probably be renamed the age of the stressed. We live in a fast-paced, competitive, and stressful world where the only question that seems worth asking is “What else can I do?” Whether we ask it of ourselves or of our superiors, it’s no secret that we’re constantly working at bettering ourselves. However, how will we reap the benefits of our hard work if all we can feel and live is a life of pain caused by stress? Take life one day at a time because we can only do so much at any given point. Take your cape off for a moment, because even superheroes need a day off from all the saving.
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