Recognizing and Dealing with the Effects of Stress on the Body
April is Stress Awareness Month. Considering what we’ve all been through in recent times, stress should be familiar to everyone. Statistics from the American Psychology Association (APA) show that 78 percent of American adults say the pandemic is a significant source of stress.
Recognizing the Different Types of Stress
This month is an ideal time to start paying attention to any stress you may be feeling. How does stress affect the body? What can you do?
· Psychological Stress
This is an emotional type of stress. It stems from fear, resentment, perfectionism, information overload, and other similar emotional issues.
· Physical Stress
Various forms of bodily harm are common causes of stress. This includes harm from factors like COVID-19 or other diseases. It also may include overexertion, dehydration, environmental toxins, or chronic health disorders.
· Psychosocial Stress
This type of stress results from difficulties with your community, interpersonal relationships, finances, or living situation.
· Psycho-spiritual Stress
Suffering from a lack of purpose, a crisis of values, or confusion about your spiritual beliefs can all be causes of stress.
The Psychological Consequences: How Does Stress Affect the Emotions?
The emotional effects of stress can creep up on you. You might experience higher levels of anxiety. If this anxiety worsens, it could lead to panic attacks, ongoing sadness, or even depression. You might feel tempted to deal with these feelings by overindulging on food or engaging in risky activities, such as gambling or substance abuse. The problems that can result from these activities will only increase your stress in the long run.
The Physical Consequences: How Does Stress Affect the Body?
The effects of stress on the body can be severe. It affects all the body’s systems, from your heart to your reproductive organs. This is because stress causes a chemical reaction, known as the fight-or-flight response that involves the release of cortisol, a stress hormone. Cortisol increases your heart rate and blood pressure and prepares you to fight for your life if needed.
While this is an excellent mechanism for self-protection, it becomes a problem when stress extends beyond life-threatening situations and becomes part of everyday life. Your body remains in this heightened state, causing a variety of health effects.
The effects of all types of stress on the body include:
- Body aches, headaches, or chest pain
- Insomnia and exhaustion
- High blood pressure
- Weight gain or loss
- Digestive issues
- Dizziness or shaking
- Heart attack, heart disease, or stroke
- Muscle tension or jaw clenching
- Reproductive or fertility problems
- Hair loss
- Hives, acne, or other skin disorders
- A weakened immune system
- Worsening of other chronic conditions that already exist
Assessing Stress Levels: What Can You Do to De-Stress at Home?
It’s important to watch for signs of stress. Before serious health issues develop, you may experience mild symptoms, such as difficulty sleeping. Listen to your body and pay attention to your mind. You know when something isn’t right.
Aside from doing everything you can to avoid the causes of stress, there are steps you can take to de-stress yourself.
One of the best stress tips is to meditate. It has been shown to reduce stress and improve well-being. Yoga, which combines the benefits of meditation with the advantages of exercise, can also offer a calming effect.
You’ll also want to make sure you’re engaging in other types of exercise, like walking outdoors. Not only will it boost your mood, but it will also help you sleep at night. Getting adequate sleep is one of the most important stress tips. Eating a nutritious diet will also help.
A healthy social network can provide support during stressful times. Reach out to friends and family, and don’t be afraid to admit you’re suffering.
Lastly, make sure you’re working toward something. Setting goals and meeting them provides fulfillment and purpose. These are the keys to a healthy, meaningful life.
If you’ve taken measures to reduce your stress levels but still find yourself struggling with the symptoms of stress, it’s time to reach out for help.
Fighting Back Against the Effects of Stress on the Body
If any of these types of stress are getting to you, MD Now is here to help. Our dedicated staff is ready to provide you with the medical care you need to get back to feeling like yourself. Our more than 60 locations across Florida offer a convenient way to care for your well-being. No appointment is necessary! Find your nearest location today!