Stress, Types Of Stress & Its Effect On The Body
Do you ever feel like there's just too much going on?
That no matter how hard you try, you can't seem to get ahead?
And then, on top of it all, your body feels like it's falling apart?
If that sounds familiar, you're not alone.
Stress is a huge problem in our society today, and it can take a toll on your health if you're not careful.
In this post, we'll take a look at stress, its different types, and the ways it can affect your body.
So let's get started!
Stress, By Definition
When most people think of stress, they think of the physical symptoms like a racing heart, tight muscles, and sweaty palms.
But stress is not just a physical response. It's also a mental state that can be caused by any situation or event that makes you feel overwhelmed or out of control.
Stress can be short-term, like when you have a busy day at work, or it can be long-term, like when you're juggling work and family responsibilities.
In plain and simple terms, stress is generally considered a feeling of emotional and/or physical tension.
Now, stress is a general term and there are multiple causes for it, meaning that it manifests on different levels.
Let’s explore the types of stress further!
It's no secret that stress takes a toll on our physical health. Chronic stress can lead to all sorts of health problems.
But what you may not know is that there are different types of stress, and some may be more harmful than others.
Physical stress is one of the most dangerous types of stress because it can lead to long-term problems.
This type of stress is generally linked to physical overexertion, injury, environmental pollution, inadequate oxygen supply, dietary stress (nutritional deficiencies), dehydration, hormonal imbalances, and others.
This type of stress is perhaps the fastest one to have an impact on your physical health.
People experience stress for a variety of reasons, the most common of which are psychological.
Psychological stress can stem from events such as the death of a loved one, a divorce, a job loss, or even resentments, sadness, anger and grief.
It can also be caused by ongoing stressors such as financial problems or chronic illness.
Unlike physical stress, where the stressor is in the environment, psychological stress stems from our perception of certain events.
It’s how we interpret and cope with these events that determine whether they lead to feelings of stress.
The thing, however, is that in most cases, we react, rather than respond.
That is to say, we react automatically, based on already established patterns in the brain, that lead to the feeling of stress.
This is why, an amazing practice is to stay aware of your thoughts and reactions, to certain events, and eventually learn how to counter and change them!
Psychosocial stress is the term used to describe stress on our mental and emotional health, caused by social dynamics and events.
It can be caused by a number of different factors, including work-related pressures, family problems, and relationship issues.
Psychosocial stress can have a number of negative consequences on our mental health, including anxiety, depression, and even some levels of post-traumatic stress disorder.
This is perhaps one of the most mentally-debilitating types of stress because it creates boundaries between us and other people.
How Does Stress Affect The Body?
Now, the most important thing to remember, is that evolutionarily, the stress response was developed by the human body, as a defense mechanism.
When our brains perceive danger in the environment, the stress response instantly kicks in.
This response is also known as the “fight or flight” response.
As a bodily response, the fight or flight mode causes our blood pressure and heart rate to go up, and most blood is pumped into the extremities, so we can fight/flee.
Furthermore, during the stress response, the body’s growth and immunity are basically impaired.
The thing is, back in the days of our ancestors, this response was something temporary, that remained turned on until danger was evaded.
Nowadays, it is sustained over long periods of time, to the point where it becomes chronic.
So, you can figure - When your growth and immune system are impaired chronically, and your heart works irregularly, you are on a highway to a multitude of health issues, both physical and mental.
Those include but are not limited to:
1. High blood pressure
2. Cardiovascular diseases
3. Abnormal heart rhythms
5. Chronic anxiety
6. Memory loss
7. Chronic fatigue
These are all the more reasons to learn stress management and mitigate the potentially dangerous effects of chronic stress.
In my opinion, stress is best countered with your most powerful tool, as a human being - Your awareness!
Stress is an inevitable part of life. It can be caused by external or internal factors and it manifests in different ways for everyone.
While there are many negative effects of stress, such as the increased risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, it's not all bad news.
Stress can also help us stay alert and focused when we need to be productive.
The key is to learn how to manage stress and avoid chronic such so that its harmful effects don't outweigh its benefits.