This is the first of a two-part series about Stress. In this post, I’ll talk about what stress is and how it affects us, physically and mentally.
In part two, which will follow on Thursday, July 1, I’ll talk about ways to reduce stress in our lives.
Got stress? Dumb question, hmm? I haven’t met anyone who has ever said, “Yea, I live a stress-free life.” Everyone I know has at least one stressor they’re dealing with, and some people seem to live in a constant state of stressness.
Second question: Would you choose to avoid stress altogether, if you could? Not me. I mean, really: Life without any stress would be dull and boring, don’t ya think?
After all, there’s good stress – moving into a new home, planning your wedding (unless, of course, you take lessons from those Bridezillas on television – in fact, that show will give you stress), having a baby, planning a second honeymoon, getting ready for college . . .
Then there’s the bad stuff – you or someone you love gets cancer, you have a car accident, you lose your job, a loved one dies . . .
So we really don’t need a complicated definition of stress: MedicineNet defines it as simply: “forces from the outside world affecting the individual.”
Based on that definition, it’s pretty darned hard to avoid it, even if we wanted to! I guess we could just build some kind of pod, and live in it, alone, with no television, computer, or other outside influence, but then we would go crazy from the solitude and wouldn’t that be stressful?
These forces cause a physical response in our bodies, called the “fight or flight response,” as shown in this Medical News Today article. This response from your body is meant to protect you in a stressful situation, for example, when you’re faced with a life-threatening challenge.
However, stress overload, which can happen when you’re dealing with several “outside forces,” can cause both mental and physical symptoms. Example: you’re going through a divorce and you’re the primary caretaker for an aging parent.
Mental symptoms of stress include:
- Lack of focus on tasks
- Feeling cranky and anxious
Physical symptoms from stress overload are described at eHealthMD, and the article also points out that many addictions are connected to chronic stress.
Here’s the bottom line: Too much stress can hurt us and its physical symptoms may even lead to those two life killers: heart disease and the Big C, cancer. Here are just a few of the examples of how chronic stress affects our lives. Yikes.
To learn about how to deal with stress, check out my post, Don’t let stress mess with you.
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