Stress is a response of the human body when it comes under pressure or strain due to some external stimulus or some demand. Due to fast paced modern lifestyles, stress has become commonplace. It triggers our ‘fight or flight’ response, which kicks in when we are exposed to danger or some other threatening or challenging situation. This allows us to meet challenges and take care of ourselves when faced with dangerous situations. Some amount of stress is useful in performing under pressure and for meeting deadlines. However, too much stress takes a toll on the body and mind, and raises danger signals for other more serious illnesses.
Effects of Stress
Chronic or long-term stress can lead to serious health issues and further affect all the systems of the body. Stress raises blood pressure, suppresses the immune system, increases the risk of cardiovascular problems such as heart disease and strokes, contributes to infertility, and speeds up aging. Stress can also affect the brain making an individual more susceptible to anxiety and depression.
- Physical Symptoms
- Any kind of pain, often chest pain and back pain
- Digestive problems, stomach upset, constipation
- Heart disease, high blood pressure, palpitations
- Decreased immunity
- Sleeping problems
- Sexual difficulties such as erectile dysfunction or a loss of sexual desire
- Muscular aches
- Mental Symptoms
- Constant worrying
- Lack of concentration
Symptoms of Stress: Chest Pain
Chest pain is one of the symptoms of stress and is often taken very seriously, as in the worst case scenario it could be a heart attack. However, chest pain can be caused by a number of other factors and heart-related problems are among those. Chest pain from stress and anxiety, is more common than a heart attack.
As part of the body’s ‘fight or flight’ response, stress hormones are released into the blood by the brain and tightening of muscles take place. This can also occur with the chest muscles, and may cause chest pain. It is important though that one should see a doctor on any occurrence of chest pain, so that heart-related illness can be ruled out or given due priority.
Depression is also caused by or exacerbated because of stress. Consider the following depression symptoms. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression symptoms may include the following:
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
- Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
- Insomnia, waking early morning, or excessive sleeping
- Irritability, restlessness
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
- Overeating or appetite loss
- Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
- Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
Stress can also be caused by experiencing a traumatic event which may lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Acute Stress Disorder.
As we have seen modern lifestyles are often a cause of stress to the individuals. Stress has many signs and symptoms ranging from physical to mental, and include emotional and behavioral symptoms. Physical problems, heart disease, anxiety, and depression can all be caused by it. In order to deal with it, we must consider some stress management strategies.
Stress Management Techniques
- Exercise: Stress management exercises improve overall fitness, boosts immunity, and is effective in reducing emotional stress and tension.
- Relaxation: Relaxation techniques for stress are necessary to get rest, proper sleep, and relax after work or physical activity. If you push yourself too much, there are increased chances of stress.
- Meditation: It is a way to control the mind and reduce worrying and anxiety. Proper meditation techniques as well as breathing exercises are useful in managing stress.
- Lifestyle Arts: Arts such as Tai-chi, Yoga, Qigong build up a good lifestyle which effectively deals with stress.
- Time Management: Effective time management is important in managing stress. It is one way to make sure that you are neither underutilized or overproductive.
- Support System: The help and guidance of family and friends as well as other members of our social networks such as colleagues, neighbors, and pets are key to developing a healthy lifestyle.
As you can see, stress is a serious ailment and a specialized task, and techniques are required in order to deal with it. Following the aforementioned techniques might prove beneficial in managing the same.
Disclaimer: This WellnessKeen article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.