Stress is not a new and novel concept. It is simply how the body reacts physically and psychologically to pressure in everyday life. During different points of life, everyone feels it. Work pressure and other things happenings may overwhelm you and lead to a nerve-wracking state. It is important to recognize the symptoms and learn how to address them to reduce stress because permitting anxiety to take over can lead to dangerous and life treating conditions.  I learned this the hard way from my health challenges.

Life has become more chaotic now, where people work longer hours and deadlines are considered more important than a healthy lifestyle.  It’s a very unhealthy attitude see stress as a minor issue. Perhaps this explains why stress-related illnesses are prevalent. Even after eliminating negative contributors, you may find that mental strain is still engulfing you. This is because even positive events like promotions, wedding days and, a new baby can trigger the condition as well.

Ways in Which Stress Can Impact Life

Stress can impact both mental and physical health. It is quite commonly linked with depression, and there can be various signs of strain on bodily functions. Worst case scenario is death. If you’re paying attention, you’ll notice that heart rate increases whenever you are in a tense situation. In extreme cases, this can contribute to a heart attack. It also has a lethal impact on blood pressure. The forehead vein throbs when individuals are worried. Stress exerts pressure on the artery walls when the heart pumps blood. Allostatic load, which refers to wear and tear of cardiovascular organs, is another impact on the body. The body releases hormones like cortisol when you’re worked up. Taste is also found in your saliva. When you think about stressors, inflammatory markers like c-reactive protein increase in the bloodstream.

These are serious consequences of stress, but the impacts are not limited to these. When you’re worried, your brain is in danger too. Cortisol is known for creating free radicals which kill brain cells. That’s why memory problems are among the first few symptoms you’ll experience. It makes you forgetful and emotional and creates a dangerous cycle of anxiety and fear. In addition to making you stupid, it exposes you to the possibility of depression and other mental illnesses such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Where Does Stress Come From

If people were asked randomly about where they think stress comes from, most would say it is directly related to deadlines and high expectations; we talk so often about “stressful job.” While that is a common and genuine cause, it is not the only one. Various situations can contribute to stress. In fact, anything can cause stress. The body reacts to situations with different emotional, mental and physical responses. Since each of us has a different way of adjusting to challenges the causes of stress varies for each. The most common reasons include threat, fear, cognitive dissonance, etc. It is often related to finances, work, family, concerns regarding health and safety, etc.

Causes of stress can change as you age. Think about when you were younger; a child may be tense getting A’s in school (I know I was), or about being bullied at school. Teenage stress likely shifts to dating, hormones, and acne followed by worries about getting into a good college and leaving home. Living away from home starts the stress of managing finances and on it goes! The reasons change, but stress does not eliminate itself.  You are the only one who can take a proactive role and learn to deal with it.

The condition roots from the daily events of life and even the simplest issues may contribute to the condition. It is essential to gain enough knowledge about the principal reasons of stress for you. To reduce stress, you must understand the causes and negative impacts of it.

Scientific Background on Stress

Hans Selye, the father of stress research, first used the word “stress” to talk about this condition. Before that, the word was only used in the world of Physics to describe force per unit of any material. Selye completed his medical training at the University of Montreal back in the 1920’s. He began using the word for a medical condition when he noticed that all patients looked sick, irrespective of why they were admitted. Selye concluded they were in physical stress.

He later explained it by saying that stress was a non-specific strain on individual’s body and it is caused by irregularities in regular body functions. It was added that this form of stress releases certain hormones. There are long-term and short-term reactions to stress. Long-term stress is also known as chronic stress while the latter is known as acute stress.

Chronic stress is caused due to sustained crises, like unemployment and illness of a loved one, or everyday annoyances such as heavy traffic. In this case, both body and brain are unable to reset inflammatory chemicals and hormones to normal levels. This affects the immune system and can/will make you sick.

Acute stress prevails when immediate threats activate a fight-or-flight reaction. The bloodstream is overwhelmed with hormones and cytokines. Cytokines are smalls proteins which can enhance the immune system and therefore improve your health and help you reduce stress levels in the body.

How to Overcome and Reduce Stress

It has been said that a moderate amount of stress is good for the immune system and can improve performance. However, chronic stress still has the power to trigger acute symptoms. It is essential to comprehend the danger and fight stress. There are many things you can do to relieve your body and mind from the condition and reduce stress.

One of the first steps is to recognize how important alleviating stress is. You must maintain a healthy body. To do so, you will have to eat well and sleep for AT LEAST 7 hours each night. To ensure undisturbed sleep cycles, it is recommended to turn the phone to silent at night. Experts advise regular exercise as it keeps the body fit and also releases happy hormones.

Deep breathing exercises can be a quick, easy fix as well while your body recovers, you need to focus on your mind as well. Start speaking about your feelings openly. Talk to people who are supportive, someone you can trust. Set aside some time for relaxing. Even consider nap time daily. Just 15 minutes can allow your body to recalibrate itself. Mediation is recommended to ease the mind, not to mention a routine of journaling.

Fight Stress and Win

Being stressed is not a nice feeling, but it can be avoided. Work proactively to avoid situations that can trigger stress. You can take notes of important appointments instead of relying on your memory. Try to focus on deadlines and do not procrastinate. Make prior plans and be fully prepared. Also, set attainable goals rather than impossible ones. Failure is a stressor.  I like to wake up earlier to organize my day makes all the difference. (or even the night before if you’re not an early bird!  If you truly recognize the negative impacts that stress can have on your life, it becomes less difficult to avoid. Simply changing your attitude toward life and work can help eliminate the sources and reduce stress.