We usually say that we are stressed when we feel that everything seems to have become too much and we wonder if we really can cope with the pressures placed upon us. Unfortunately, it is not hyperbole that stress can kill you. These alarming statistics are absolutely true: 77% of people experience physical symptoms caused by stress, while 73% of people experience psychological symptoms, 33% of people feel “they are living with extreme stress”, 48% of individuals report waking up in the middle of the night due to stress, 48% of people consider stress as having a negative impact on their personal and professional life. Here are some unpleasant things that happen to your body when you are overstressed:
- Recent research links cardiovascular disease and stress. The presence of stress, particularly combined with other risky behaviors (e.g. smoking, alcohol abuse), is thought to increase one’s risk drastically to heart disease.
2. Stress starts and ends within the brain. Stress initiates the “fight or flight” response and releases stress hormones that spread throughout the body, causing “the heart to beat faster, respiration to increase, blood vessels in the arms to dilate”. So, chronic stress is harmful for the brain.
3. Chronic stress leads to panic attacks – a sudden feeling of acute and disabling anxiety.
4. Chronic stress also “causes the muscles in the body to be in a more or less constant state of guardedness”. Musculoskeletal disorders can manifest in this state.
5. During times of stress, the brain releases cortisol which, over a period of time, may disrupt the normal function of anatomic reproductive system.
6. Managing stress is important to maintaining a normal blood sugar level – and potentially avoiding diabetes in certain situations.
7. Stress disrupts the systematic operation of integumentary system, which includes the hair, nails, and skin.
8. Chronic stress may also lead to severe stomach pain, ulcers, and other conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome.
How to combat stress?
- get regular exercise
- eat a well-balanced diet
- avoid excessive consumption of alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco
- practice acupuncture
- try meditation
- start massage therapy and aromatherapy