Stress is a normal part of life, as it is our body’s natural response to certain situations. Stress can come from something as simple as getting stuck in traffic, resulting in you being late to work or an appointment, or it can be something more severe such as losing your job. More often than not, stress is chronic and causes physical and mental issues. This has a huge impact on our overall health, especially when large amounts of stress are occurring over a long period of time.
What causes stress?
As mentioned above, stress can come from simple daily activities and from more long-term occurrences. Three of the main causes of stress are money, poor health, and work— almost all sources of stress can be traced back to one of these three, whether it affects you personally or someone close to you. According to more recent surveys, 25% of U.S. workers stated that work is the main cause of stress in their lives, whether they’re unhappy with their position, working long hours, working under dangerous conditions, or it’s just simply a heavy workload. Work stress can also tie into money-related stress.
Work stress is also a part of life stress, which includes health and also money. Some common life stressors include positive changes such as getting married, moving to a new home, and getting a new job or promotion at work. This type of stress is usually short-lived and only stresses the person out until the change has been completed. On the other hand, divorce, taking care of a sick family member, and any type of traumatic life event cause long-term stress that can have physical effects on the body and mind.
How can stress affect the body?
Most people are already aware of how stress can affect the mind. Stress leads to more worrying, and worrying can lead to anxiety. Fear and uncertainty are two factors that come about as a result of stress, but they can also become a part of a cycle. Everyone’s personality is different, so this means that everyone responds to stress in a different way. Some people are good at not letting anything get to them— at least for a long period of time— while others suffer mentally and physically from stress.
Stress can also present itself in a variety of physical symptoms, making the person suffering from stress believe that they may have a serious physical ailment. An upset stomach and other digestive issues are some of the most common physical manifestations of stress. These symptoms can be easily soothed with OTC (over-the-counter) antacids, but unfortunately, some antacids have been causing more problems (and stress) than solving them. Antacids containing high levels of NDMA have been linked to cases of stomach cancer in individuals taking medications, such as Zantac.
What can be done to manage/reduce stress?
It’s never a good thing when you try to do something to alleviate your problems and it ends up causing you more problems; in turn, more stress. This is why stress management techniques are essential in keeping up with both your mental and physical health. Stress relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and meditation are very effective when it comes to managing stress. In the same way, regular exercise is also effective in relieving stress. Regular exercise doesn’t mean you have to hit the gym every day, but it does mean that you should be active, whether by simply walking, doing yoga, playing sports, or even dancing.
Research suggests that eating a healthy diet can help reduce the negative impacts that stress has on the body. Unfortunately, when we’re stressed, we’re more likely to gravitate towards “comfort foods” which are often unhealthy. This further contributes to the unhealthy effects that stress has on our bodies, such as inflammation and oxidation. To combat this, try a diet high in anti-inflammatory foods (such as the Mediterranean diet) and foods high in antioxidants (such as dark berries).
As always, consult with your doctor if you have any concerns about your health. Stress is real and has real effects on the mind and body, so don’t hesitate to reach out for help in any way you can.