Stress and Its Impact on your Life

Stress is a physical or psychological response to an outside force. Simply put, the body automatically goes into a state of stress in uncomfortable situations. Everyone experiences stress in their life – this is perfectly normal because stress is a normal part of life; keep in mind that stress can be both beneficial and harmful.

When living with a certain healthy level of stress, you feel motivated to do your best, you feel relaxed, and ready to perform under pressure. When living with a high level of stress, you start to feel out of balance. Stress can be dangerous if not managed properly – when properly channeled, stress can improve productivity.

In today’s demanding world, stress levels can easily escalate to a high level –many life events can contribute to high levels of stress, these events include:

  • Losing a Job

  • Receiving a promotion

  • Major life changes

  • Financial problems

  • Relationship difficulties, marital problems and divorce

  • Death of a spouse

  • Illness, accident

  • Buying a new house

  • Going to college

  • Pregnancy

  • Children and family

  • Exhausting work schedule – Being too busy with daily activities

  • Unexpected circumstances

  • And any activity that puts high demands on you.

Learning how to manage and maintain stress at relatively healthy levels is our only defense; this is the only way you can protect yourself to look and feel great always.

In this article, we will discuss the difference between anxiety and stress, how to recognize stress overload, the common effects of stress overload, when you should seek help, and how to maintain a healthy stress level.

Difference between anxiety and stress:

How is anxiety difference from stress?”, “Is it stress or anxiety?” – People often use both terms interchangeably. It can be hard to see any difference between anxiety and stress probably because they both share the same physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms.

However; the difference between them is that stress is caused by an existing factor (the existing factor is usually a stressful life event like the ones listed above). Anxiety, on the other hand, is one of the negative effects of stress – it is a feeling of unease, fear, and worry – most people will also feel anxious when they are stressed.

Anxiety can be rooted in any event that makes someone feel frustrated or nervous like; giving a presentation in front of a crowd or meeting someone for the first time.

Remember, anxiety and stress are not interchangeable – anxiety can have physiological and psychological effects, stress can easily be redirected into something positive and beneficial.

The Signs and Symptoms of Stress Overload:

Some personality types are more vulnerable to stress and anxiety; therefore, it’s also important to know the common signs and symptoms of stress overload – stress is cumulative; if you frequently find yourself feeling overwhelmed, nervous, and irritable – your body may be in a heightened state of stress and telling you to slow down.

Other common warning signs and symptoms of stress overload:

  • Excessive or constant worry – inability to concentrate

  • Anxious and racing thoughts – unusual thoughts and feelings

  • Poor judgment – procrastinating and difficulty in getting things done quickly

  • Being disorganized

  • Increased levels of anger and frustration

  • Depression, anxiety – unhappiness and agitation

  • Moodiness

  • Loneliness and isolation (withdrawing from others)

  • Increase in alcohol consumption and drug usage

  • Feeling of helplessness

  • Eating more or less – sleeping too much or too little

     

People with stress overload may also experience physical symptoms:

  • Headaches and increased frequency of headaches

  • Back aches and pains

  • Chest pain – rapid heart rate

  • Constipation, Nausea, Diarrhea

  • Dizziness and constipation

  • Loss of sex drive

  • Frequent colds, flu

All these can be the signs of stress overload in a person’s life (they can even be signs of more serious health problems). Everyone relates to stress overload differently, different situations will affect people in different way and the symptoms of stress overload might also be different.

What are the effects of stress overload?

If we are kept in the state of stress overload for long periods, we may feel aggressive towards other. High levels of stress or “stress overload” is detrimental to our health and can lead to serious health problems.

Stress overload is no laughing matter – it can affect a person’s body and mind, rewire their brain to become more vulnerable to anxiety, depression, and other mental health problem. Stress overload can cause other physical and mental problems, ruining a person’s physical and mental health in no time.

 

Here are some health problems caused or exacerbated by stress:

  • High blood pressure:

Several research studies show that stressful situations can cause your blood pressure to spike “temporarily” – Researchers aren’t sure about the link between stress and “long-term” blood pressure, but different symptoms of stress – such as increase in alcohol consumption and poor sleeping habits can cause high blood pressure.

  • Heart disease:

Stress may affect behaviors that increase heart disease risk. People with stress overload may choose to drink too much or smoke to manage their stress level – these behaviors can increase the risk of heart disease.

  • Weakened immune system:

Stress overload has been linked to the weakening of the immune system – it results in high levels of cortisol circulating in the blood, making the body resistant to cortisol. This can make you more susceptible to illness.

  • Digestive problems:

Stress can affect every part of your digestive system” – Kenneth Koch, MD, professor of Medicine.

Stress causes inflammation of the gastrointestinal system, stress can make you more susceptible to irritable bowel syndrome and other kinds of gastrointestinal diseases.

  • Skin problems:

Stress overload can make skin problems worse – From acne to eczema, rosacea, and even vitiligo. Acne, for example; the body naturally releases stress hormones when one is tense and these stress hormones may increase the skin’s oil production and cause pimples.

  • Weight problems:

Stress is a trigger for weight gain. This is pretty straightforward – people normally overeat when they’re feeling a lot of pressure and stress can turn overeating into a habit.

  • Neurological disorder symptoms:

Stress overload comprises the blood brain barrier – leading to headaches, nausea, dizziness, and other neurological disorder symptoms. When stressed, drugs taken into your body enter the brain.

People with stress overload may also experience mental health problems;

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Panic attacks and panic disorders

  • Social phobia

  • PTSD

  • Bipolar disorder

How much stress is too much? – When you should seek help:

We must pay attention to stress and know “how much” stress is too much. What is stressful for you? – Some people are terrified of speaking in front of a crowd, while others may find the demands of caretaking very stressful.

Everyone has their limit and “stress tolerance level”, you must know your own limit.

Here are 7 factors that influence your stress tolerance level:

  1. Your knowledge of stressful situations and how to prepare for stressful situations:

Can you figure out where the stress is coming from? Can you cope with stressful situations? – you can easily cope with stress when you become familiar with situations you find stressful, how long they will last, and what to expect from these situations.

  1. Your ability to deal with your emotions:

Having the ability to identify and deal with your emotions can help you bounce back from everyday stress and increase your tolerance to stress. First learn how to calm and soothe yourself when you’re feeling angry, sad, or troubled – this is very (very) important because it can help you handle stress better.

  1. Your sense of control:

Do you have confidence in yourself? – Do you have confidence in your ability to persevere through challenges? Are you hopeful and optimistic? Do you believe you can make changes? – If you have control over your life, it’s easier to take stress in strides – stress is less likely to knock you off course.

  1. Your attitude and strength:

If you embrace challenges, accept changes, and develop a stronger sense of humor; life’s experiences won’t seem as overwhelming. The way you react to life’s inevitable challenges determines your stress tolerance level.

  1. Your personal time (the “me” time):

We all need a break every now and then. Believe it or not – If you regularly make time to rejuvenate yourself, you’ll be in a better place to handle stress.

  1. How you manage your time:

Lack of time can lead to stress. Unfortunately, many people don’t have the time to do what they enjoy – they wish for more hours in the day to check off their to-do-list.

  1. Your support network:

Family members and a network of supportive friends can help you overcome stress – spending time with family can reduce stress. On the other hand, the more isolated you are, the greater your risk of succumbing to stress.

 

Read also 8 practical ways to maintain a healthy stress level

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