Every day seems the same.You never seem to have enough time to relax and take time for yourself. If it’s not the kids and their hectic schedules, it’s the pressures of work. Are you constantly striving to balance your domestic responsibilities with the high demands of the work place?Sometimes you are irritable and restless thinking about those unpaid bills, the kids needs, your partner’s needs, and the demands of your boss.
If your answer is yes, you have something in common with nearly half of all Americans today–stress.
What is Stress?
Stress is a combination of psychological, physiological, and behavioral reactions that we experience in response to events that seem to threaten or challenge us. As defined by the famous stress researcher Hans Selye, “Stress is the non-specific response of the body to any demand made upon it.” These demands may be physical or emotional in nature and the perceived threat/challenge can be real or imagined. However, it is the perception of threat that triggers the response.
During a stress response, the body experiences increased levels of cortisol, adrenalin and other hormones that produce an increased heart rate, quickened breathing rate, and higher blood pressure. Blood is shunted from the extremities to the large muscles, preparing the body to fight or flee. This is also known as the fight-or-flight response.
The stress-response system is self-regulating. It decreases hormone levels and enables your body to return to normal once a crisis has passed. However, due to our hectic lifestyles, many of the stressful circumstances tend to be prolonged. As a result, you may be on the fight-or-flight reaction longer than is necessary. During this time, you may often end up feeling overwhelmed, tense, and frustrated. What is good for your body during a short-term crisis could be quite harmful over long periods. This long-term activation of the stress-response system can disrupt most of your body’s processes, and may lead to other long-term complications.
What Causes Stress ?Leading Causes/Sources of Stress:
Stress may be linked to external factors such as:
Stress can also be a result your own:
How does one recognize stress?
It’s not always easy to recognize stress, especially when you are experiencing the symptoms of stress as part of your daily life. Reportedly, women and men exhibit stress differently. While women confess feelings of nervousness, lack of energy, or wanting to cry, men talk about trouble sleeping, or feeling irritable and angry.
The most common symptoms of stress are:Emotional: Worry, anger, irritability, anxiety, frustration, and impatiencePhysical: Fatigue, headache, back pain, jaw pain, trembling, cold hands and feet, and muscular stiffness.Digestive: Heartburn, diarrhea, constipation, flatulence, and fullness.Vital sign: Rise in blood pressure; rapid heartbeat.Mental: Confusion, inability to concentrate, indecisiveness, nervousness, occasional sleep problems, and blankness.
How can stress affect you?Stress affects performance of daily duties and responsibilities, resulting in negative lifestyle changes including relationship challenges, career dissatisfaction, deteriorating health, complacency, and substance abuse. It not only steals vitality, health, and energy, but also undermines our ability to perform at our best.If the cause of your stress is temporary, the physical and psychological effects of stress are usually short-term as well. Normally, our bodies rest when stressful events cease and life gets back to normal. However, stress becomes dangerous when it interferes with the ability to live a normal life for an extended period of time.Recent studies suggest that stress and anxiety contribute to a majority of illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, dyslipidemia, obesity, lung ailments, allergies, sexual problems, cancer, and psychological disorders.In some cases, stress may result in short term memory loss, poor mental ability, lack of focus, poor concentration, poor judgment, difficulty making decisions, and depression.
Further, stress has been reported to affect the vitality and reproductive systems in both males and females, and is linked to some of the leading causes of death.
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