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How Stress Affects the Quality of Your Life and Overall Health

How Stress Affects the Quality of Your Life and Overall Health

Stress affects us all. It is a feeling of physical or emotional anxiety that can come from any incident or thought that frustrates, upsets, or makes you anxious. Uncontrolled stress may lead to various health problems such as hypertension, heart conditions, obesity, and diabetes. The first step is to understand the causes and effects of stress, as well as the symptoms of anxiety.

Stress and anxiety are inter-related. Stress is the body’s reaction to a threat (often an external cause), whereas anxiety is the body’s reaction to the stress (often internally, even if the threat is gone).

Anything that induces stress is called a stressor, and it is these stressors that you need to be on the lookout for; stressors can come from a variety of sources.

In this article, you will learn what are the causes of stress, the effects of stress on your life, and how you can regain control.

Stressors: The Causes of Stress

Stressors are events or conditions in your environment that cause stress. In fact, any time you make quick changes or adjustments in your life, this can lead to anxiety and stress. These events may include managing a significant life occurrence, like changing jobs or moving to a new community. Or it may be coping with more serious events, like a family illness.

Even small actions like worrying about the economy or personal finances can contribute to stress. Or a combination of daily tasks can be stressors. When you handle multiple roles and duties at the same time – such as being a spouse, a parent, and the family’s breadwinner – daily life can be a significant source of anxiety.

Our modern lives are particularly prone to the causes and effects of stress. Being overwhelmed by technologies such as mobile phone calls, e-mails, and texts all play a role as stressors.

The Long-Term Effects of Stress

When faced with stress, your body releases hormones. These hormones cause changes in your body. For example, your blood pressure may rise, your heart may pound, and your stomach may become tense. Over time, this stress reaction leads to more serious conditions like hypertension and heart disease.

Make no mistake about it: Stress will affect your well-being. Through the years, you can experience some of these symptoms:

  • Physical – Recurrent colds or pneumonia, nausea, sleeping difficulties muscle spasms, skin problems, acid reflux disease
  • Mental – Poor concentration, forgetfulness, learning problems, recurrent negative thoughts, speech problems
  • Emotional – Panic attacks, distress, rage, mood swings, impudence, sense of hopelessness, issues with relationships
  • Behavioral – Eating terribly, driving carelessly, abusing drugs or alcohol, being prone to accidents, and violence

Most of us are so stressed that we don’t know exactly when we fall apart. Oftentimes, when the symptoms of stress interfere with work and relationships, this is called anxiety.

Symptoms of Anxiety Include:

  • Low energy
  • Headaches
  • Upset stomach, including diarrhea, constipation, and nausea
  • Aches, pains, and tense muscles
  • Chest pain and rapid heartbeat
  • Insomnia
  • Frequent colds and infections
  • Loss of sexual desire and/or ability
  • Anger, irritability, or restlessness
  • Feeling overwhelmed, unmotivated, or unfocused
  • Racing thoughts or constant worry
  • Problems with your memory or concentration
  • Making bad decisions

How to Protect Yourself from Stress

Controlling our emotions is difficult, particularly if these emotions are overwhelming. That’s why the list below can somehow help an individual relieve the causes and effects of stress.

  1. Exercise – This can sound contradictory, but placing physical stress into exercise may relieve mental stress.
  2. Consider Supplements – Some supplements help relieve stress and anxiety. However, before taking any medicine, consult your doctor.
  3. Chew Gum – Chewing gum can help you relax, according to several studies. It can also promote well-being and decrease stress.
  4. Take a Yoga Class – For stress reduction, man around the world practice yoga. It has been found to lead to lower blood pressure and lower levels of stress hormones.
  5. Spend Time with Your Pet – Spending time with your pet is a soothing and fun way of decreasing stress.
  6. Reduce Your Caffeine Intake – High levels of caffeine can increase both stress and anxiety. Cut down on caffeine or remove it from your diet.
  7. Spend Time with Friends and Family – Strong social relations will help you to cope with stress and reduce the risk of anxiety.
  8. Listen to Soothing Music – Listening to music can be a perfect way to reduce stress.
  9. Deep Breathing – Concentrating on your breathing will teach you to breathe differently.

Stress and anxiety can occur at work and in your personal life, but there are many easy ways to minimize pressure. All of the methods mentioned above will help to ease the causes and effects stress.

The Causes and Effects of Stress: Key Takeaways

The causes and effects of stress are many. Seek to find constructive ways to deal with stress. Unsuccessful approaches to handle stress – for example, watching TV, browsing the internet, or playing video games – can seem to relieve your anxiety but in the long run, may increase stress. Lead a healthy lifestyle, get a lot of sleep, and eat a healthy, balanced diet. Stop or avoid cigarettes, caffeine alcohol, and illicit substances.

If you’re not sure what is triggering your stress or if you’ve taken measures to control your stress but symptoms persist, see your doctor. Your healthcare professional may want to test other potential triggers. You may also consider seeing a qualified counselor or therapist who can help you identify your stress factors and learn new ways to manage anxiety.

If you have shortness of breath, jaw or back pain, vomiting, dizziness, nausea, or pain that radiates through your shoulders and arms, get emergency treatment right away. These may be signs of a heart attack and not just symptoms of stress. So be sure to seek medical help, if needed.

Learn more about Stress Management here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Picture of the author
Written by Karla Pascua on May 01, 2020
Medically reviewed by Marie Bianca Angelica Tech, M.D.
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