Is Your Stress Affecting Your Health?
Distress from Stress: Is Your Stress Affecting Your Health?
STRESS - if you were to define it on this very day, how would you describe it?
I’d probably go in for something like - the monster who can scare you till your last bone :/
Yup, some of us have not had a pleasant experience with it but then again, who does?
As we move forward in life most of us experience it in different ways - either through work, academics, personal struggles, etc. So sometimes, people rather make sure they’re keeping up with it so that it’s not that overwhelming anymore, but just a part of the average Joe’s life.
Well, when doing that….how many of us realize how stress affects health and well being? I’d say...very few.
When we try to keep up with the work, the baby sitting, the household work, the friends and family and everything in between, it does get a little chaotic (just thinking of it stressed you out, didn’t it? :p)
Effects of Stress on the Body
Let’s talk about how this stress can affect you - both positively and negatively. What is the effect of stress on your body? The positive impact of short term stress is that the pressure of additional responsibility could impact your performance before an event (e.g., before a cricket match). However, in the current times probably there is no greater danger that the human body could face than the multiple ailments that are brought on by stress. The human body is capable of handling those moments of stress, for once they pass the tense muscles can relax once again. But long-term stress could trigger many stress-related disorders. Migraine and headaches are frequently a result of muscular tension in the shoulders, neck and head.
Stress also has the potential to cause severe damage to your hair health. Your hair follicle are pushed into the resting phase and new hair growth does not happen. Your hair will fall out even when you are combing and washing your hair.
The capacity of the person to recover from these injuries is based on how he/she has responded to these injuries. Whether he has sought only a physical cure or whether the person has opted for a holistic resolution to the problem with expert medical guidance and deal with the manifold effects of stress on the body.
Stress hormones are those same hormones that affect the fight or flight mode. Unlike in animals where this can just trigger them to hide their head in the ground, us, humans? We’re designed a little differently ;) When this stress hormone is released, your heart rate increases, your breathing rate quickens and muscles are sent an alert. This is done as a mechanism of protection in an emergency. This emergency situation can be anything from a personal situation - death, accident to work and family-related matters. Now, though all types of stress can’t fall under the same umbrella, some stress is good for health.
Symptoms of Stress
However, if your stress hormones don’t stop signaling your body, that can negatively affect your health. It is very important to recognize those symptoms so that you can nip an oncoming crisis in the bud. There are several physiological effects of stress. The following are certain symptoms of the effects of stress on the body, and how does stress affect health in general:
- Taut and tense muscles, musculoskeletal pain in the lower and upper back
- Shortness of breath and rapid breathing
- Increase of heart rate and stronger contractions of heart muscles
- Heartburns, acid reflux and spasms in the esophagus
- Muscle spasms in the bowel
- Stomach discomfort
- Continuously active nervous systems produce a wear and tear of the body and is one of the significant effects of stress on the body
- Excess release of cortisol which can affect the functioning of the male reproductive system and also impact the sexual drive. This is one of the side effects of stress on the body.
If you find yourself worked up a little too much too often...you’ll begin to notice symptoms like irritability (ever just lash out at someone when they asked you about your day? Well, now you know!), depression, headaches, etc.
In terms of health, it can raise your blood pressure, cause acid reflux (feel nauseous every now and then?), tense up your muscles causing back and body pain, make your hair fall out in clumps and most importantly (at least during this COVID-19 situation!) weakens the immune system. It will help to be informed about the cause and effect of stress.
Causes of Stress
There could be a number of reasons for the feeling of stress including
- Being under pressure
- Facing huge problems
- Not having the capacity to handle a situation
- Overwhelming responsibilities
- Uncertainty of the circumstances that you find yourselves unwillingly in
There is no one single reason for stress and different people react to stress differently. However the effect of mental stress could be debilitating for some people.
How Do I Manage Stress?
With the type of life we live in India and hair loss being prevalent in about 1 million people, learning to understand it and manage it is growing in importance. It would help to be well informed about the different effects of stress on the body.
There are different ways of managing stress depending on the mental make-up of the individual. It depends on how the individual thinks (does he have a positive way of looking at problems), his self-esteem, his temperament (does he have a resilient nature ?) and the experience that the person has in dealing with these situations. It also depends on what the person is going through at that point of time and the support that he is receiving from different people. If you are going through a rough personal phase in life, even the things that you normally enjoy doing, will give you stress.
Ways to Deal with Stress
Stress is a reaction to any situation when the individual feels threatened or experiences a feeling of anxiety. Nervousness, unhappiness or loss of appetite may also be ways of reacting to stress. It is the time where you need to take a break and do things a little differently, and try and reduce the effects of stress on the body:
Talk about it
Share your problems with a friend or companion or go to a counsellor. Choose to talk it out with close ones (and when needed the most, a therapist). It helps release the bottled up feelings leading to added stress and anxiety. Sometimes, asking for help from a therapist too can be super constructive. So don’t be hesitant!
Meditation and Yoga
Try and meditate or do yoga. Meditation has a unique power of helping calm worked up nerves. It also has benefits of increasing one’s focus and minimize the effects of stress on the body and mind. Simple activities like deep breathing can help do exactly that and enhance a positive mood.
Get some exercise
What does stress do to your body? it also induces a feeling of inertia in you. When the body feels good, the mind also feels good. So, go for that walk, jog or swim. You will find that you become more positive about yourself. If you feel unwilling to indulge in any physical activity, coax yourself into doing those normal activities like walking to the neighbourhood shop or cleaning your house, as immobility will only aggravate your situation. The exercise helps your body release hormones like endorphins and endocannabinoids that help block pain and improve sleep. Take care not to exercise before bedtime as it could disturb your sleep.
Eat healthy de-stressing food
Certain foods have the ability of reducing and controlling stress hormones that linger around for a long time. Some of these foods are - dark chocolate, oatmeal, almonds. Stop yourself from having food that contain extra sugar or fat; apart from adding those extra inches to your waistline they could also be bad for your mental condition. A good immune system will help create the right mental mood and keep all those health parameters, like blood pressure, at the right level. Try and include food rich in vitamin C, magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids into your diet to control the effects of stress on the body
Spend some time by yourself
Simple activities like reading a book or taking a hot bath can be therapeutic activities to get yourself some “me time.” Studies say that stress reduces by 68% after reading for just 5 minutes. Plus, spending some time by yourself is absolutely healthy and helps people get to know themselves better and reduces the effects of stress on the body and mind.
Well, that’s it for now. We can’t give you the entire philosophy of life at one go so this was our 2 cents on stress and how one can handle it constructively and deal with the effects of stress on the body and mind.
Don’t forget, stress also has the capability of bettering yourself by making you a tough cookie, enhances cognitive function, etc. so it’s important to recognise whether it’s the good guy or the bad guy (not Billie Eilish’s song!). Plus, if you’re one of those people who are going through hair loss due to stress...don’t let it take the toll of the entire body. Head over to Traya. Dr. Shailendra who is a specialist in Ayurveda medicines offers the best hair loss care with 0 side effects.
So what’s stopping you from getting quality Ayurveda hair care? It's health and hair combined!
Visit the website and fill up the free diagnosis form.
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Dr. Shailendra Chaubey, BAMS
A modern-day Vaidya with 11 years of experience. He is the founder of Dr. Shailendra Healing School that helps patients recover from chronic conditions through the Ayurvedic way of life.