Introduction: The Dangers Of Stress
Who is the biggest enemy in your life? Is it your unfriendly ex, your mean boss, or that old high school bully? Whomever you think it is, I bet you weren’t thinking it would be the monster we’re all so familiar with, Stress…
But yes, stress is truly public enemy #1. More than you may realize, stress is the biggest factor in your life causing all manner of ailments and diseases. Chronic stress has been shown in studies to account for up to 90% of all health problems!
Stress, as you probably know, is the body’s response to a perceived threat, or danger. The body reacts by going into fear, flight, fight mode, also known as the stress response. The adrenals produce cortisol and adrenaline. This puts the body into a state of high alert: the pupils dilate so they can receive more light, and more visual stimulation; the heart rate increases; the breathing becomes shallow; the blood is diverted to the extremities for movement; the digestive system shuts down. This works very well in the short term and when faced with a cougar or bear!
However, in our everyday lives, when the stress response does not shut down, we experience chronic stress and this leads to all manner of health problems. We can feel the stress response kick in if we are worried about work, about deadlines, or exams, or promotions, or finances or mortgage payments, or even if we worry about what others think about us!
If we feel worried about the way we look, act or appear to others, you can guarantee that your stress response is being triggered. When life throws you curve balls, or when life piles one challenge on top of another, your stress response will kick in. One big stressor is anger: Anger is an emotional stressor that can trigger heart attacks, arrhythmia, and even death! Chronic stress causes fatigue, poor concentration, and irritability.
Studies have found that stress even affects our genes, turning on or off genetic factors in our DNA that affect how much fat our bodies store, how fast you age, to whether or not you will develop cancer.
Chronic stress has been found in studies to decrease your immunity, negatively affect your memory and your emotions, lower bone density, and increase pain levels. Other stress related problems include muscular tension, skin problems such as rashes, eczema, or psoriasis, digestive and gut related issues and breathing problems such as asthma or panic attacks.
Knowing that stress has such a major impact on our health, it makes sense to know how to handle it well! Here are some tried and tested methods to help you triumph over the stress monster!