The Major Stresses of Life And How They Damage Your Health
What is Stress?
By Websters definition stress is;
"a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation"
The Medical Dictionarydescribes a stressor as;
"A stimulus or event that provokes a stress response in an organism. Stressors can be categorized as acute or chronic, and as external or internal to the organism"
No matter what our education level, family upbringing, financial status, ethnic background,employment status, relationship status and so on. We are all human and have all experienced some sort of stress in our lives. And are very likely dealing with some level of stress right this very moment.
It is true, some stress in our lives can be helpful. Whether it pushes you to stay up an extra hour studying for tomorrows exam, pushing you to meet that deadline at work, or helping you out run that angry bear. Some stress can not only be beneficial but some people need it in order to give them that extra push.
It's the bad stress that we worry about and that can be harmful to our health. The kind of stress that keeps you up at night, takes over your life so much that you forget to eat. Or maybe it's gotten so bad that you are are even afraid to return to your own home. This type of stress can have a huge impact on ones health.
Top Life Stressors
- Relationships- whether it be family relationships, friendships, or significant others. The people you care about most make a huge impact on your life.
- Money/Finances- Being financially stable can be a huge struggle for many people. And can cause a lot of stress in ones life. Worrying about whether or not you can pay your bills this month can have a negative effect on your health.
- Employment/Job- This can range from finding a job, job security, poor working environment, or working in a high stress environment.
- Health- Your personal health, your friends health, your families health or even your pets health. All of these factors can affect your health.
- Safety- The safety of your friends,family or pets can have a huge impact on the stress in your life. Living in fear can cause a lot of unwanted stress.
- Home- Your home life can be a stressful environment to live in. Having a huge negative effect on your health.
- School- A heavy course load, the fear of failure, how are you going to pay your tuition. There could many reasons that school is causing stress in your life.
- Death- Whether the death causes financial stress, role stress, emotional stress or all of the above. Death is a major life stressor.
- Retirement- As much as you hear the line "I can't wait to retire". Many people fear whether or not they can afford to retire. Or wonder what they are going to do with their lives after they do retire.
Negative Health Effects Due to Stress
When the stress in our lives becomes bad enough it can lead to what we call "distress". This is when our bodies are in continuous fight or flight mode. As we continuously have obstacles in our path making life difficult to navigate, and manage.
Health problems due to stress include;
- Elevated blood pressure
- Stomach aches
- Substance abuse
- Sleep problems
- Hair loss
- Sexual dysfunction
And the list goes on.....
Stress Coping Mechanisms
- Sleep - Ensure that you are getting enough sleep. You need around 8 hours a night to completely refuel. And even more if you are sick. Coping with stress and day to day activities are always easier when you are wide awake opposed to dragging yourself through the day.
- Exercise- Unless there is some medical reason that you can't exercise it is always good for you. If you are limited to the amount of exercise you are able to do. Go for a walk in the fresh air.
- Relaxation- Try new relaxation techniques. Deep breathing, yoga, meditation, soothing music. Or even just closing your eyes and counting down from ten.
- Set Realistic Goals- We often expect too much from ourselves. Trying to get everything done without asking for any help can be very stressful. Start with small goals and work your way up as you complete each of these.
- Say No - If too much is being asked of you and you are struggling to balance everything. It is time to start saying no. Don`t try to squeeze more than you can handle into your life.
- Ask for Help- There are professionals out there specifically trained to deal with how you are feeling. Don`t be afraid to ask for help and guidance. If you are not ready for that yet. Then ask a close friend or family member. Sometimes just admitting you need help and asking for it is all you need.
- Avoid Self Medicating -Abusing alcohol or drugs can blur your view of reality and may seem to help alleviate your stress for the time being. But when you sober up and take a look at your life again you may find yourself more stressed out than before.
- Remove Yourself from the Situation- Take a few moments each day to just do nothing. And if some event is becoming too stressful for you, walk away from it. If you do not need to go back to that situation then don`t. However, if it is something that you need to deal with, walking away and clearing your mind can give you a new view on how to deal with things.
- Pick Your Battles- We have all heard this line and it`s true. Don`t let the small things bother you. They aren't worth the stress.
- Talk About it- Sometimes just talking about the problems in your life is enough to reduce your stress. And can help you look at these issues from a different view.
- Looking Back- Look back at previous stressful situations and remember how you dealt with them. What worked and what didn't work.
- Nutrition- A healthy mind and body can help your better deal with stressful situations.
- Laughter- Laughter truly is the best medicine.
- Sex- Sex seems to help many things. Stress being one of them.
- Distraction- If it is a worrying type of stress, distraction might work best for you. Find a hobby or a group you can join.
How Not to Deal With Stress
- Alcohol- Alcohol is often turned to when dealing with stress. It may take your mind off your situation momentarily. However, it will not solve your problems and they may worsen once you sober up.
- Drugs- Sometimes your doctor will prescribe you drugs for your anxiety, depression ect. This drug and dosage has been specially chosen for you. It is important to only follow the directions of these drugs that had been given to you by your doctor. Abusing prescription, over the counter, or illegal drugs. Will not help you in dealing with stress.
- Caffeine- Caffeine is a drug, a stimulant. Which means it is doing the same thing that stress is doing to your body. Stimulating the fight or flight response. If you can`t completely cut out caffeine, reduce your intake.
- Denial- Pretending that everything is alright and ignoring your problems will not make them go away.
- Food- Over eating or pigging out on your favorite high calorie foods may make you feel better momentarily. However, it will not solve the stress in your life. It may even add to the stress if you start gaining unwanted weight.
- Withdrawal- Backing away from the problem and others, keeping things to yourself is not an effective coping mechanism.
- Blame- Blaming yourself and/or others will not make you feel better.
- Revenge- This can be very dangerous and will likely only add to the stress in your life.
How to Deal With Stress Conclusion
We all not only experience stress but we all experience it differently. What causes one person's life to turn upside down may not even phase someone else. Therefore, we all deal with life's stressors differently as well. The trick is is to prevent as much stress from entering our lives as possible. And when we are unable to do that we must find strategies that work best for us personally. Once we understand what causes the stress in our lives and how to deal with it. It makes life a little bit easier.
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