Feeling overwhelmed? Finding it difficult managing day-to-day tasks? You may be trying to juggle chronic stress.
What is stress?
Stress is an emotional and/or physical response to a situation when an individual feels an uncontrollable and robust demand to perform. Stress describes a broad range of mental and physical reactions, including excitement, worry, anger and fear.
Examples of stressful events include being under time constraints, experiencing complex social interactions and performing a task beyond one's ability. In many cases, people experience stress when they have limited resources, including time, money, and energy. The trick is to manage one's stress so that it doesn't become overwhelming.
To put it simply...
The body responds to pressure from any outside influences. When a threat is detected in the body, it triggers a rapid auto reaction called a fight-or-flight reaction or the stress reaction in the body. This response protects us from stressful situations.
In an ideal situation, managing stress helps keep your mind energised. During emergencies experiencing stress may even be helpful. For example, experiencing this stress response gives you the strength to protect yourself, or it may force you to hit the throttle of your vehicle to avoid an accident. Stress can also help a person to overcome obstacles.
What happens when the body experiences stress?
When a person experiences stress, their body releases Adrenaline and Cortisol hormones. These hormones help the body cope with stressful situations. The stress response is designed to ensure our survival. However, when stress becomes chronic, it can cause significant health problems. It also increases the "fight or flight" response and can have long-term effects on the body, mind, and emotional state.
The effects of chronic stress
When you are in a constant state of stress you are less able to recognise physical threats and you also become unsure of the difference between them. Whether your life has been negatively affected due to arguments or being overwhelmed by the growing pile of debts, the body will react to it strongly.
If your stress level is raised you will have less difficulty shutting down. If we are often stressed and our bodies feel more stressed than expected, our bodies can be at an extreme level. This can lead to serious illness and burnout.
The stress that is experienced daily disrupts almost everything else. Physical symptoms can even manifest as a result of dealing with chronic stress. This article discusses the seven most common ways chronic stress manifests as physical symptoms which usually impact one's body.
Stress affects oral health
Stress is a normal part of life. We all experience it to some degree. However, when stress becomes a daily part of your life, it can manifest as physical symptoms, significantly impacting your oral health and damaging your oral tissues. This significantly reduces the health of your teeth and gums.
Stress can also cause more severe dental problems. This is due to the stress response of grinding one's teeth as a coping mechanism. In addition, teeth grinding can cause gingivitis. "Gingivitis" is a chronic inflammation or condition of the gum and is also interconnected with stress.
Furthermore, stress can cause dry mouth, making it difficult to swallow, eat and drink. A dry mouth thus makes it difficult to eat due to a lack of salivation, causing food to stick to the roof of the mouth. This could possibly lead to weight loss.
To see our Mouth Care information page, click here.
Stress-related hair loss (SRHL)
Stress is the most common cause of hair loss. In addition, SRHL has been linked to a wide range of adverse psychosocial outcomes that impact your body in the following ways:
Telogen Effluvium is a type of SRHL which causes critical pressure and drives vast quantities of hair follicles into a resting stage. After a couple of months, hair could fall out significantly while washing or simply brushing the hair.
Trichotillomania is a hair-pulling mental disorder which tempts one to pull out hair from their scalp, eyebrows or other regions of their body. Hair pulling can be an approach to managing pessimistic or awkward sentiments, like pressure or stress, strain, depression, boredom or dissatisfaction.
According to the statistics and facts of the UK, every 2 in 1000 people suffers from Alopecia areata.
In Alopecia areata body condition, the body's immune system attacks the hair follicles, which causes hair loss.
An Alopecia UK report shows that alopecia areata causes crushing feelings in patients, adversely influencing their confidence, self-perception, self-esteem and overall mental health.
Stress-related hair loss (SRHL) is a social stigma affecting over 6 million people in the United States and is associated with poor mental health. Although hair loss and stress are not permanent, your hair might grow back soon if you control the stress.
If you have noticed any unusual, strange hair loss while washing or combing your hair, you should discuss it with your primary health care physician.
To see our Hair Loss page, click here.
Stress-related stomach problems
Stress can upset the stomach and cause digestive disturbances, including diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps or cramp-like pain. In addition, stressed stomach muscles relax and cause breathing difficulty.
In addition, stress dials back absorption for certain people, causing bloating, pain, and constipation. While in others, it speeds up metabolic processes, resulting in continuous outings to the loo. However, specific individuals might lose their appetite completely.
To see our IBS information page, click here.
Stress-related muscle pain
Stress can cause your muscles to tense up, which can lower performance, worsen moods, and cause you to be more easily distracted.
Stress and tension can cause muscles to contract, resulting in muscle fatigue. In addition, when you are physically tense, you lose control over your muscles, which can cause you to do something you would typically not do.
Stretching your muscles can relieve stress naturally by increasing blood flow and can also help build muscle strength.
Stress-related fatigue & dizziness
Stress increases your heart rate rapidly and can cause your heart to beat faster than it should. It can give you a feeling of dizziness, light-headedness and numbness.
If you are under stress, your body can react by releasing adrenaline, which can cause your heart to beat faster and your body to respond by sweating.
This is a widespread problem of prolonging and can cause you to breathe very quickly and shallowly.
Stress impacts sexual desire & hormonal imbalances
The hormone testosterone is the male sex hormone produced in the testes. When men stress out, the testes can lose their ability to make it. The result is a reduced amount of testosterone. It is a risk factor for erectile dysfunction, which leads to a lack of sexual desire.
When a woman is stressed, she may experience irregular menstrual cycles and raised acne on the face caused by a hormone imbalance.
To see our Erectile Dysfunction information, click here.
The eye is an especially susceptible organ. It can be easily affected by stress. Stress can cause an increase in eye pressure, which can cause excessive tear production. The tear production can result in a decreased amount of blood flow to the eyes.
Researchers found that the increased pressure of the eyes causes a decrease in the activity of specific brain cells. The cells become especially active when subjects experienced stress. When a person is fearful or anxious, these cells become jam-packed.
To see our information and products relating to Eye Care, click here.
What's stressful for you?
Whatever is causing you stress, there can be ways to cope with that stress. The most frequent factors that cause stress are:
Job loss and unemployment stress
Lost jobs are the most challenging experiences in life. It is normal to feel upset, angry or depressed and you may grieve your loss or worry about the future. Job loss and unemployment involve very big changes in one's life which can affect self-esteem. Even though stress can look daunting, there are a few steps you can take to overcome traumatic situations and you can come through your difficult time feeling a renewed sense of purpose.
Grief and loss
The grief of losing your loved one is the most challenging part of your life. Sometimes losing someone can be especially painful. You may have unexpected emotions and experiences that are hard to describe, from shocks and anger to despair and even guilt.
When you feel overwhelmed, you may find yourself in a situation where you don't know what's going on. When caregiver stress is ignored, it can cause stifling physical, emotional and financial stress, which can lead to burnout or illness.
Stress at work
While workplace stress can be normal, excessive stress can negatively impact your performance and productivity. Excess stress can even mean the between successful or failed performances. Whatever your job requirements are you can take steps to reduce or eliminate stress in your life, improve your career satisfaction, and improve your overall mental health.
Many people across the planet are dealing with financial difficulties during this tough period in their lives. Financial worries can be one common stressor in our modern life. There is still an effective way to deal with economic difficulties such as speaking to a financial advisor.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms of stress, consult your physician.
It is essential to get your doctor's approval before taking any medication or supplements to manage stress. In addition, your medical history can provide you with a better understanding of your hormonal and chemical balance.
- Healthline. (2018). Hair Loss: Cause, Treatment, Prevention, and More. [online] Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/stress/stress-hair-loss#types-of-hair-loss [Accessed 16 Apr. 2022].
- Nih.gov. (2018). Brain Basics: The Life and Death of a Neuron | National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. [online] Available at: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Life-and-Death-Neuron.
- Psychology Tools. (n.d.). Fight Or Flight Response. [online] Available at: https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/fight-or-flight-response/#:~:text=The%20fight%20or%20flight%20response.
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