Stress is a normal part of life. Stress can be positive or negative…causes can be external or internal. how we react to these all depend on our individual perception of the stressors. What may be stressful for one person could be a walk in the park for another. think about an event like getting married, receiving a promotion, or having to make a presentation. It’s all a matter of perspective.
We often blame external causes (financial problems, relationship difficulties, work, etc.), but as significant are the internal causes (sense of helplessness, pessimism, unrealistic expectations, etc.). Basically, the body doesn’t distinguish between these physical and psychological threats.
Problems arise when stress levels don’t let up. Long-term exposure to stress can lead to serious health problems. Chronic stress disrupts nearly every system in the body. There are numerous emotional and physical disorders that have been linked to stress including, but not limited to:
- Depression, anxiety
- Heart attack, stroke
- Immune system disturbances which increase susceptibility to infections (from the common cold, to herpes, AIDS, certain cancers, as well as autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis
- Direct effects on the skin (rashes, hives, atopic dermatitis)
- Gastrointestinal system disturbances (GERD, peptic ulcer, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis)
- Degenerative neurological disorders, like Parkinson’s disease
In fact, it’s hard to think of any disease in which stress cannot play an aggravating role or that there is any part of the body that is not affected.
Moreover, it is a doubled-edged sword because these health problems can cause stress and, at the same time, long-held stress can lead to these serious health problems. And the physical and emotional effects are worsened when people resort to self-destructive means of coping, such as the use of alcohol, tobacco, or drugs to relieve their stress. these substances tend to keep the body in a stressed state and cause additional problems.
This is the season where stressors mount.
- If you can help it, avoid taking on more than is manageable.
- Prioritize, address and eliminate the stressors to a manageable level.
- Seek help if necessary. Don’t hesitate to ask friends, family or seek public services which offer assistance before turning to harmful ways of coping, particularly when you sense that you are overwhelmed and if any of the above negative effects are observed.
Be well. Live well.
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