Are you constantly feeling stressed? Stress is something we all encounter on a regular basis, but when it starts to have a negative effect on your body and mind, it means you are distressed.
April is National Stress Awareness Month, a time to do an honest self-assessment and see if you suffer from any negative effects of stress and how to reduce its impact on your life and health.
We live in stressful times. But what many people don't know is that stress can be detrimental, especially when stress is chronic and negatively impacts the body. In fact, stress has a bigger impact on our bodies than most of us realize or care to acknowledge.
Facts About Stress and Your Body
There are some pretty scary facts about the toll that stress takes on the body. When you look at these facts it is hard to deny that we all need to learn how to manage our stress more effectively. Some of these facts include:
43% of all adults have health problems related to stress
75-90% of all doctor visits are stress-related
82% of workers are stressed in the workplace
Stress is known to cost American businesses more than $300 billion each year
Seven Ways in Which Your Body is Affected By Stress
There are two kinds of stress. The "good" stress is called eustress but we generally only hear about the "bad" stress known as chronic stress or distress.
Chronic stress gradually affects your health at first; in fact, you may not even notice the symptoms at all! And if the stress is not managed, the symptoms will get worse and its effects may even be irreversible. There are a few common early warning signs. Learn the hidden signs of stress.
Seven ways in which stress may manifest itself in your body are:
1. Depression. When you are stressed out, it is very common for people to become depressed. There are only so many chemicals in the brain to help a person deal with stress, and when they are used up, they're used up. This can lead to a person becoming profoundly depressed in what seems like a relatively short period of time.
2. Anxiety. Those who are stressed are likely to deal with uncontrollable levels of anxiety. Anxiety and depression often go hand in hand, and this can cause many different changes in the physiological functioning of the body.
3. Heart disease. Stress is very closely linked to heart attacks and death associated with cardiovascular disease. When stress is not managed, the body breaks down quickly and the heart is often profoundly impacted.
4. Diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is one of the fastest growing epidemics in the world and both mental and physical stress can cause rapid fluctuations in blood sugar levels. The long-term effects associated with this include heart disease, blindness, liver problems, kidney disease, and more.
5. Hair loss. We often tease our friends and family when they begin to lose hair, but this can be a symptom of unmanaged stress. If your hair is falling out prematurely don't blame genetics, look closely at how you are dealing with the stress in your life and see if there are things you can do to control it more effectively.
6. Obesity. We often cope with stress by consuming unhealthy, fattening foods. Plus, stress prohibits the control of necessary chemicals that are needed to break down fat, which can lead to obesity.
7. Sexual dysfunction. Stress is one of the most common reasons associated with impotence in men.
As you can see, stress can affect your health in many ways. This is by no means an all-inclusive list of how stress affects your body and overall health. You may also suffer from hyperthyroidism, obsessive-compulsive disorder, tooth and gum disease, ulcers, and even cancer. Stress is serious stuff! This is all the more reason to start actively managing your stress today.
How do you manage chronic stress and keep it from impacting your health? Start in small ways. I like to use this 'red light' affirmation to remind myself to stop and pause.