Stress. It's most likely not a new term for you. You most likely stress when you are in traffic, when lines are too long at the grocery store, or you break a dish. But the real question about stress is...why? Why do we stress so much over the most trivial things? Let's start with what stress was made for:
Stress was made as a survival mechanism (Stanford University & National Geographic, 2008). We are supposed to stress when our lives are in danger. We are supposed to stress when a lion is about to pounce on us. That is when Glucocorticoids and Epinephrine (Adrenaline) are released (Stanford University & National Geographic, 2008). It is to help our blood pressure rise, our heart beat faster, and for us to Fight or Flight. The point it...stress is supposed to be the reaction to some legitimate fear, fear of something lethally damaging, fear of death.
So why are we running around stressing out about a dent in our car or stepping on some gum? I'm not a doctor, but I can say with confidence I'm sure those two things won't kill you. Because in today's modern world, we are not hunted, we simply live. So now instead of physiologically stressing ourselves to survive, we are psychologically stressing ourselves (Stanford University & National Geographic, 2008). And it's come to a point where it's literally killing us!
Just look at this list of what Short term stress is believed to cause:
• Acne • Alcohol abuse • Allergies • Anger issues • anxiety • Asthma • Back, shoulder or neck pain • Chest pain • Chronic fatigue • Cold hands or feet • Colds • Conflicts with co-workers or employers • Constipation • Depression, moodiness • Diarrhea • Domestic or workplace violence • Drug abuse • Feeling out of control • Flu • Gas • Hair loss • Headaches • Heartburn • High blood pressure • Increased arguments • Infections • Insomnia and sleep disturbances • Irregular heartbeat, palpitations • Irritability, frustration • Irritable bowel • Muscular tension/cramps • Memory problems • Nervousness • Pain exacerbation (increase in existing pain) • Phobias • Poor concentration • Reproductive problems • Road rage • Shortness of breath • Skin problems (hives, eczema, psoriasis. itching) • Sweaty palms • Tics and twitches • Trouble thinking clearly • Thought disorders • Upset or acid stomach • Weight gain or loss
More serious disorders stress is believed to cause are:
• Alzheimer's • Arthritis • Cancer • Diabetes • Heart disease • Obesity • Stroke
Not only this but stress can exacerbate any type of existing injury or illness!
It is scientific proof that stress literally makes a person accumulate more fat on their body, kills brain cells, and even unravels chromosomes (Stanford University & National Geographic, 2008).
You can see how stress kills. It really is not just this abstract concept or cliche people use...stress literally is a murderer! So what can we do?
Nutrition and exercise-Eat better, it will certainly help you feel better which will in turn help you deal with issues better. Aerobic exercise will actually raise your heartbeat, make you breathe faster. It is Eustress, this type of stress is good for you and can combat distress (the stress that's bad).
Channeling stress-Exercise, journaling, listening to music, singing, writing lyrics/poems, punching a punching bag, deep breathing, making a to-do list, find something that will make you laugh, combating negativity with positive thoughts, talking to a friend about your stress, seeking professional help for your stress, improving your communication skills, etc...
Try to distance yourself from people who cause you to feel stressed. Also, be sure to acknowledge yourself for combating stress and channeling it every time you succeed in doing so. This way you can condition yourself to avoid stressing, take a time out, and tackle the problem with a clear mind.
Stress is definitely something that is in the modern world, and it won't be going away anytime soon. The best thing you can do is find a healthy way to channel your stress so that it won't end up being your enemy. Stress can be your ally if you transform it to your needs. On the contrary, it can be deadly if you let it rule your mind, body, and life.
Stanford University & National Geographic. (2008). Killer Stress. Boston, MA: Public Broadcasting Service.