The Effects of Stress

The term “stress” is a highly subjective term; in some ways it defies definition. The way the term is generally used today dates back to 1936, when endocrinologist Hans Selye attempted to define “stress” as “the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change.” Alternately stated, it is the subconscious response to a tense situation, and the ways in which that reaction affects our bodies and minds. 

Physically, stressful situations can affect the body in ways that cause rapid breathing, tense muscles, headaches, stomachaches, adverse reactions to food (overeating or under-eating), pounding heart, and problems with sex drive and/or performance. Everyone processes their stress differently and can have completely different symptoms than others in the same situations.

Mentally, stressful situations can cause a feeling over being overwhelmed, which can snowball into other reactions such as irritability and anger, or sadness and depression. It’s common for these initial effects of stressful situations to cause greater reactions which include social withdrawal, angry outbursts, and sleep problems. 

Stress typically manifests in one of two ways: acute or chronically. Acute stress, which we all experience, is the result of everyday stressful situations (such as having to slam on the breaks while driving or getting into an argument). It’s a reasonable reaction to a situation. Chronic stress on the other hand lasts for longer periods of time. Chronic stress is often marked by overhanging challenges in life, such as financial struggles, personal issues, or professional strife. When stress lasts for weeks or even months, it is considered chronic stress. It’s not uncommon to acclimate to stress, so much so that it isn’t even a recognizable problem anymore. In the long term though, stress can lead to serious health issues. 

Regardless of the symptoms or the cause, stress is a reaction that requires a response. Whether it’s acute or chronic, it’s critically important to know how to manage stress. Learning how to better handle your stress won’t prevent stressful situations from occurring, but it can help lead to healthier responses. Learning how to manage stress and how to relieve stress in healthy ways will help to minimize health problems in the long term. A life without stress is nearly impossible, but a life where stress is properly managed can be beautiful! 


Posted on November 2 2020 in Blog

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