For most Americans, stress is something that you deal with on a regular basis. The amount of stress seems to be constantly increasing as well. Planning a quick getaway or a spa trip might be a short-term solution but chances are, when you return home, all of your worries are waiting for you at the doorstep.
Chronic stress is not easily set aside. It is packed inside your mental suitcase and travels around with you every day. The problem is that there are greater side effects to chronic stress than the anxious or worried feeling. Adults can pay a high price for chronic distress. Clinical professor of medicine and psychiatry at NY Medical College, Paul Rosch says; “Long-term stress releases brain chemicals that can be toxic, contributing to ailments as minor as headaches and as critical as heart attacks”.
How Stress Affects Your Body:
SKIN: Skin problems including eczema and psoriasis can result from stress
MUSCLES: Pains in the neck and choulders, muscular or skeletal aches, lower back pain and various muscular twitches and nervous tics are made worse by stress
DIGESTIVE TRACT: Stress can cause or aggravate diseases of the digestive tract, including gastritis, stomach and duodenal ulcers, and irritable colon
REPRODUCTIVE ORGANS: Stress can cause menstrual disorders, recurrent infections in women, and impotence in men
HEART: Cardiovascular disease and hypertension are linked to chronic stress
LUNGS: High levels of emotional stress affect those with asthma
MOUTH: Ulcers and excessive dryness are often symptoms of stress
BRAIN: Stress triggers mental and emotional problems such as insomnia, headaches, personality changes, irritability, anxiety and depression
HAIR: High stress levels may cause hair loss
Stress itself though, is hard to define as it differs from person to person. I can be good in certain situations such as sparking necessary action towards danger or improving performance or productivity, however too much stress leads to many health problems listed above. In any case, it seems that stress is unavoidable in the sequence of human life, so the best option is to identify, for you, what causes good and bad stress, and how to avoid the sources of stress to prevent or minimize the cause. This will be more effective than waiting to lessen the effects once they have manifested in symptoms or diseases.
HOW TO MINIMIZE YOUR STRESS:
Clinical and lab research shows that the core cause of much stress is the perception that one is not in control. To minimize this, you have to regain a sense of control. Though you may not be able to control the events, you can control your reactions. To restore a sense of control, Rosch suggests making a list of all the things that create stress each day. Then decide which ones you can do something about. If you can take action or avoid the situations, do it!
For the few that are simply unavoidable, accept them and move on. Continually fretting over what cannot be changed creates greater stress, but acknowledging the lack of control helps lessen it. A great way to deal with the “uncontrollables” is turning on a natural inner switch to sever the past mental patterns of anxiety with the situation. With practice, that signal or “trigger” which can be as simple as taking a brisk walk, actually turns on different calming chemicals and will create a different conditioned response to the stressor.