How Does Stress Affect the Human Body?
Stress is a term that is highly difficult when it comes to defining it. Scientists say the term itself defies its definition. There are many ways in which stress can be defined as; the difficult part is to know which definition you are looking for. Hans Selye, a Hungarian endocrinologist, is the man who discovered the theory of stress. Selye defines stress as, “the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change (Goldberg, The Effect of Stress on Your Body).
” Many individuals feel that an event might be threatening to them and this is where the human body kicks into defense mode known as the “fight-or-flight” response (the stress response). Have you ever felt your heart racing or your legs shaking right before an exam? Then you know you can feel stress on the inner and outer parts of your body. “When you perceive a threat, your nervous system, responds by releasing a flood of stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol (Smith, Stress Symptoms, Signs, & Causes: Effects of Stress Overload).
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” Stress can be positive or negative depending on the situation at hand.
Stress affecting the physical body is known as a negative stress factor. Stress can also be long term or short term. Financial problems would be long term stress. Arguing with a family member or a spouse would be short term stress. Where does stress come from? Stress can arise from many different areas in an individual’s life. Family, friends, boyfriend/girlfriend’s, work, home, and/or school are perfect examples of stress factors. Relationships can be very difficult to deal with and hard to balance out. School and work can definitely be frustrating. There are many long term and short term physical effects on the human body due to stress.
One effect symptom of stress is body aches and pains. Such as, headaches, back pains (muscle aches), stomachaches, and so on. When it comes to headaches caused by stress, there several types of headaches. Such as, tension headaches, migraines, and secondary headaches. A tension headache is also known as a stress headache. Tension headaches involve both sides of the head. Usually there is a tight feeling, or feeling with lots of pressure in the forehead and at the back of the neck. Tension headaches aren’t as painful; hence individuals usually go on with their daily activities and hobbies without any complaint.
Migraines are extremely painful headaches that can last an individual from about four hours up until 72 hours. Yikes! Migraines are unilateral; it involves one side of the head. Migraines usually get worst as an individual continues with his/her daily activities. Sensitivity to light and surrounding noises can also trigger migraines to get worst over time. These factors sometimes trigger nausea as well. “Stress alone does not trigger migraines but it does make us more susceptible to our triggers”, says Teri Robert. Finally, a secondary headache is headaches that are caused by much more severe conditions; strokes, brain tumors and so on.
Like migraines, secondary headaches are also not directly caused by stress. Just as headaches are painful, stomachaches tend to be much more painful and frustrating. Many wonder why and how it’s even possible for your stomach to be effected by stress. Well, the fight-or-flight response plays a big role in stress causing stomachaches. When the brain triggers the fight-or-flight response, “it slows digestions or even stops it completely so the brain can focus all of its internal energy to facing the threat (Miller, Why Stress May Cause Abdominal Pain).
” Scientists say that the stomach and intestine have its own nervous system known as, the enteric nervous system (Cherry, Understanding the Link between Stress and Stomachaches in Children). Stress that is relating to eating can definitely trigger stomachaches. Stomachaches eventually lead to nausea, bloating, cramping, diarrhea or constipation, lack of appetite or even big appetites. Lack of appetite cause weight loss as to big appetites would cause obesity. Obesity and weight loss itself has its long and short term effects on the human body. Another physical effect caused by stress is acne and other skin problems.
“Acne is generally associated with high levels of sebum, the oily substance that coats the skin and protects the hair (O’Connor, The Claim: Stress Can Cause Acne). ” Students in high school and college are mostly affected by acne due to stress. During periods of high pressure such as exams or projects, students tend to suffer emotional stress. Acne is only the beginning. When anyone sees a pimple or a zit on their face, they don’t let it sit on their face. Instead, they pick at their face until the bump is flattened. Picking at pimples relieves the individual and makes them feel a little more comfortable with their skin.
Other skin problems such as eczema, hives, rosacea, psoriasis, alopecia (hair loss), trichotillomania (hair pulling), and so on are also caused by stress. One last major physical effect caused by stress would by insomnia. Insomnia is the inability to sleep. Being up all night trying so many different things to fall asleep isn’t fun at all. It causes a whole bunch of chaos. You’re waking others up, you’re already tired and frustrated, and you can no longer think properly, you feel worthless. Insomnia is no joke. Insomnia has its own negative side effects to it. You begin to lack energy and lose focus.
What happens when you lose energy and focus and you have to work or go to school the next morning? More stress is added on. These factors lead to not being able to complete tasks properly or on time, feeling as if you have no control of anything, forgetfulness, short temper, and sometimes even poor self-esteem. Stress is a normal part of an individual’s everyday life. Others may put stress on you or you may put stress on yourself. Stress is all around you. Being stressed over a long period of time can lead to chronic stress. Chronic stress is when stress starts to interfere with your ability to live a normal life.
The longer you are stressed, the more dangerous and hazardous it becomes to your mind and body. Chronic stress can alslo cause different diseases and health issues. Some people think smoking is a great way to cope with stress. It’s NOT! Smoking is only putting your body more at risk of shutting down. It also leads to lung disease and failure of the lungs. Chronic stress can be so dangerous that it can lead to suicidal thoughts, depression, and anxiety and so on. That is the wrong way to go. There are many positive and safe ways of coping with stress as well as avoiding stress.
The biggest way to cope with stress is to identify what is causing you to be stressed out. There’s no better start then to know who or what is causing you to be unhappy and live a normal life. This is where you can put your foot down and put a stop to that stress factor. Another way to cope with stress is to relax. Relax your mind and relax your body. Taking deep breaths helps muscles relax and ease up. Stretching can loosen up muscle tension. Massaging your muscles can also loosen up any muscles tension and release toxins from the muscles and body. Taking care of your body is a great way to cope with stress.
Eating properly, getting enough sleeping, exercising, and putting a stop to smoking, drinking alcohol or even drugs is a perfect start to a healthy life. Talking to a family member, a co-worker, or a friend is a great way of coping with stressful events in your life. Don’t hold anything in, try to connect with others and express your emotions. When it comes to arguing with a significant other, give in once in a while. There isn’t anything positive you can get out of arguing. Be healthy, take care of yourself, and keep yourself motivated and moving, you should be less stressed!