Updated: May 28
… and what you can do about its damaging effects on your health.
You may be aware of the effects of stress when you ARE stressed.
Things like how we feel and react
in traffic jams
when the boss calls you in her office for an unexpected meeting
The power gets cuts off when you thought you HAD paid the bill
But are you aware of the effects of chronic or ongoing stress on your health?
Things like digestive issues are tied to chronic stress. So are reproductive diseases.
Some reactions continue “behind the scenes” in our bodies AFTER the traffic jam, the unexpected meeting, or the bill finally getting paid.
Let's briefly look at what stress is. Then we'll take a closer look at health issues related to chronic stress.
In the simplest of terms, stress is our body's way of reacting (physically, mentally, or emotionally) to any pressure (good or bad) put on us. Check out this blog for a closer look at stress.
I think you've probably heard of Fight or Flight. Fight or Flight is the body's self-preservation system that allows us to "fight off" or "run away" from an attack.
In our modern society, our minds and bodies don't differentiate between a real threat (to our lives) versus a perceived threat to our way of life (money, prestige, the comfort of living, etc.).
Someone pulling out in front of us in traffic and then going 30 mph isn't a real threat to our existence. Maybe to our pride. Or our rightful place in the line of traffic but not in our existence.
(I'm not referring to a near accident. I'm referring to there was plenty of room for us to apply the brake- but we didn't want them in front of us going 30 mph.
However, our reaction to someone pulling out in front of us-- causing us to slow down, be late, get in our way, etc.,-- can cause health issues. If it's our default reaction to get upset in traffic- especially if it's everyday accordance.
Most of us have been sheltering at home - and maybe not working. We're concerned about our finances, and we're worried about our health and the health of our loved ones.
It's our negative actions and responses to the stress around us that threaten our health.
Let me explain.
Chronic stress is being in the 'Fight or Flight" response for an extended period of time.
It could be daily. Several times a day. Weekly.
The point is - chronic stress is ongoing, and you are in the "Fight or Flight" more than you are in the "Relaxation" Response.
Being in that constant state of 'fight or flight' causes havoc with our bodies.
Inside and out.
Havoc- noun, widespread destruction.
verb, lay waste to; devastate.
You may be thinking, “Missy, really ‘havoc’? Didn’t ya go overboard just a bit with that word choice?”
Well, check out the information below from WebMD. I think it will help prove my point.
WebMD.com lists the symptoms of stress.
EMOTIONAL SYMPTOMS OF STRESS: Becoming easily agitated, frustrated, and moody. Feeling overwhelmed, lonely, worthless, and depressed. Having difficulty relaxing and quieting your mind. Avoiding others