Have you noticed the word stress is involved in many conversations, today? A state of mental and physical tension as a result of a variety of factors that alter a person’s balance, stress actually protects the body by triggering a host of physiological, psychological, or biological reactions to ensure survival.
Nearly every system in the body reacts to what it perceived as a threat. Yet, in today’s society’s stress isn’t limited to physical dangers. Stress causing factors, called stressors can be either positive or negative events or situations. Positive stressors or good stress such running a race, getting married or other life-altering events can be beneficial and are rarely considered stress.
Which Type of Stress Are You Experiencing?
Stress can be temporary or chronic. Temporary or acute stress is when our body perceives small stressors like as an argument, crowds, noise, or recalling an unsafe situation as an immediate danger. The body goes into fight or flight mode and goes on high alert by activating blood vessels, brain, digestive system, heart, immune system, nervous system and sensory organs. While this occasional stress may temporarily increase the heart rate, once the trigger has gone away, the systems return to normal and a relaxation response takes place. There is no need to worry about this kind of stress as it rarely has long term ill effects and can actually improve heart health and strengthen the immune system.
What About the Causes of Chronic Stress?
In contrast, ongoing long-term stress due to repetitive negative stressors can turn into chronic stress, especially when one suppresses their desire to act. Top chronic stressors such as worrying over personal finances, work (or lack thereof), relationships and parenting cause multiple negative consequences to one’s health and appearance. Additional chronic stressors include illness, being a caretaker or caregiver, managing or owning a business, or simply having more demands or pressures than resources (like energy, time, or money) to cope. Even lack of touch can cause stress-related illnesses.
When chronic stress is present, the body’s systems go into overdrive and can manifest into anxiety, fatigue, tiredness, or the sensation of being tied up in knots. Chronic stress adversely affects the circulatory and nervous systems and causes possible diseases or skin disorders. Stress lowers levels of GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid), which is an amino acid that promotes feeling calm, plus affects neurons or nerve cells.
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