Stress is the way the body responds to any demand or threat. When you sense danger whether it is real or imagined the defense of the body kick into high gear in a quick, automatic process known as the “fight-or – flight” reaction or the “stress reaction.”
Stress response is the method of protection by the body. This helps you stay focused, energetic and alert when working. Stress can save your life in emergency situations giving you extra energy, for instance, to protect yourself or spurring you to slam on the brakes to prevent a car crash.
The body releases larger quantities of the chemicals cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. These trigger the following physical reactions or symptoms in the body.
• Rise in blood pressure
• heightened muscle preparedness
• Profuse sweating
• Restlessness or increased sweating
• Inhibit insulin production
The above factors improve an individual’s ability to respond potentially in challenging circumstances. Norepinephrine and epinephrine leads to faster heart rate.
Environmental factors that trigger this conditions are named as stressors. Few examples to quote include noises, aggressive behaviour, a speeding car, or scary moments, Feelings of stress tend to increase in tandem with the number of stressors.
Types of Stress
• Acute stress – Acute stress occurs for short-term. It usually happens in a dangerous condition or when something happens exciting. All people have come across acute stress at some point of their life.
• Chronic stress – This condition lasts for a longer period of time. Chronic stress usually happens due to long term tensions, work pressure or any personal issues. It happens over a period of time that may people don’t realise it as a problem. If the problem not managed for on time or not taken care, it may lead to other health issues.
Effects of stress in the body
Body easily responds to stress by releasing hormones. These hormones make the brain more alert which causes the muscles to tense and increase the pulse rate. In a way these reactions are good because they help to handle the situations well and protects the health. When you are affected with chronic stress, the body stays alert. But over a time it can put you into health threats like –
• Heart diseases
• High blood pressure
• Depression or anxiety
• Skin conditions like acne or eczema
• Menstrual disorders.
Causes of stress
People react in different ways to stressful situations. It might not be the same with every person. For some individual just thinking about a situation can only lead stress. There is no identifiable reason why the reactions are different when it is caused by the same stressor. Conditions like depression or anxiety can lead to stress easily.
Common major life events that can lead to stress include:
• Family issues
• Lack of time or money
• Personal issues – relationships, marriage or divorce, job issues or retirement
• Sadness due to demise of close relative or friend
• Abortion or pregnancy loss
• Environmental factors like noise, overcrowding, pollution
• Uncertainty in waiting for an important outcome
• Fear of crime or problems with friends or neighbours
• Traumatic event like death or accidents or any kind of abuse.
The physical effects of stress are listed as –
• Increased sweating
• Pain in the back, behind the neck, shoulders or chest
• Cramps or muscle spasms
• Dizziness or fainting
• Frequent headaches
• Sleeping difficulties or insomnia
• Stomach upset
• Loss of libido
• Low immunity which causes diseases easily
• Weight loss
The emotional effects of stress can include –
• Over reacting like anger or grief
• Difficulty in concentration
• Feeling of insecurity
• Irritable attitude
Other behaviours associated with stress are –
• Food cravings, eating too much or too little
• Sudden breakouts of anger
• Excess consumption of alcohol and smoking
• Drug addiction
• Social withdrawal
• Frequent crying
• Relationship issues
Research studies also found, parents who experience stress who do not manage the situations in the family may lead to obesity in their children.
Stress management is very important to keep the body healthy from disease condition. In order to get rid of this situation, the cause should be identified and avoided. Few tips to manage the stress includes.
Here are some basic ways to reduce stress –
• Maintain a healthy diet
• Sleep for 7-8 hours of sleep in the night
• Exercise regularly
• Minimize use of caffeine and alcohol
• Stay socially connected so you can get and give support
• Rest and relax and given time for self-care
• Practise meditation techniques such as deep breathing or pranayama.
• Figure out the food items which causes allergy or intolerances and try to avoid them.
• Eat good sources of proteins like beans, nuts, seeds which are healthy source of protein, healthy fat, fibre and antioxidants.
• Include fresh vegetables and fruits which given you instant energy. Try to eat fresh food and avoid stale food.
• Fishes such as mackerels, sardines and salmon are good sources of protein.
• Eat whole grains like wheat, rice, barley, oats, etc.
• Flaxseeds, hempseed, and walnuts are rich sources of Omega-3 fatty acids. They are also good in improving inflammatory conditions and eases the pain response in the body.
• Drink plenty of water and stay well hydrated. Water helps to flush out toxins from the system that cause diseases