What is stress?

What is stress?

Stress is one of the biggest killers across the globe. In fact, it has been dubbed the ‘silent killer’ due to its link with global top causes of death including heart disease and stroke.

Stress has evolved as a survival mechanism – a natural response to the perception of pressure, threat or danger.

While today we are not being hunted by predators, there are many things in our everyday lives that cause a stress response in our bodies. From work pressures, financial difficulties, and relationship problems to existential despair, global events and big life changes, we all face stressful situations that may impact our health.

Stresses impact on the body

Sometimes, stress can be beneficial. We’ve all heard the adage that people work better under pressure, for example, when we are competing, meeting deadlines or taking on challenges – stress can motivate us to succeed.

However, chronic, long-term stress can wreak havoc on our health. Being stressed triggers the body’s flight, fight and freeze response, raising the heart rate, increasing blood pressure, tightening muscles and causing the release of adrenaline and cortisol.

Cortisol is the body’s main stress hormone, which, during a stress response causes the release of sugar in the body to help improve energy and inhibit pain. However, high levels of cortisol in the body for a prolonged period can cause a cascade of health problems including anxiety, high blood pressure, headaches, mood swings and fatigue.

Additionally, chronic stress can impact our heart, nervous system, immune system, sleep and mental health, and some research has even suggested that it can trigger autoimmune diseases such as arthritis or lupus.

Coping with stress

How we deal with stress can hugely affect the impact it has on our bodies and minds.

Some people may deal with stress in unhealthy ways such as overeating, smoking, or drinking alcohol, which can lead to further health problems and more stress.

So, ensuring you have useful tools and positive coping mechanisms for dealing with stress can make a world of difference to our physical and mental health.
For example, activities such as exercise and meditation can be effective ways to keep stress at bay.

In fact, research suggests that regular exercise is associated with increased emotional resilience to acute stress, and meditation has been found to improve symptoms of stress, depression and anxiety.

Spending time in nature, going for a walk, talking to a friend, or taking up a new hobby that helps you clear your mind can also be excellent coping strategies.

Ensuring you are practicing a healthy lifestyle is vital to help with stress management. This may look like implementing a hygienic bedtime routine, limiting caffeine intake and screentime, kicking unhealthy habits to the curb, and taking time for yourself to relax and unwind.

By having a better understanding of stress, we can adopt effective strategies for navigating its challenges and limiting its impact on our physical and mental health.

← Previous Post Next Post