How does stress affect health?

How does stress affect health? 

Whether it is day-to-day stress like being stuck in traffic or financial concerns, or a major life event such as the loss of a loved one, divorce, or job loss; research shows that stress can affect your body, your thoughts, and your behavior.

Stress is personal. One person's stress may be another person's adventure. While a little stress is good for motivation it is said that stress precipitates up to three quarters of all doctors visits. 

Too much stress for too long can lead to high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. The common effects of stress can be broken up into

  1. the effects of stress on your body,
  2. the effects of stress on your mind, and
  3. the effects of stress on your behavior.

1. How does stress affect health and the body

Stress has served an important survival function throughout the human race. Thanks to the boost of adrenaline the caveman was able to escape the jaws of the saber-tooth tiger to live another day.

While our causes of stress today are more likely to be concerns over finances, an irate boss or colleague, or excess demands on our time - we have inherited the stress response from our ancestors.

When stressed your body activates the stress response and secretes the adrenaline, nor-adrenaline, and cortisol into the blood stream. These three hormones are implicated in a variety of medical problems. 

So how does stress affect health? At the physical level it can do this a number of ways.

2. Some common effects of stress on your mind

Stress can have an impact physically. But did you know that it can also affect your thoughts. Under stress your thoughts can go more towards survival at the expense of rational thinking.

Some of the common impacts of stress on your mood include increased anxiety, restlessness, a lack of motivation or sadness, and/or feelings of anger and helplessness.

3. Some common effects of stress on behavior

If you like a glass of wine at night with your meal, under stress you may have several more. This highlights that stress can have an impact on behavior. 

While each person struggles differently with stress, some common changes in behavior include:

  • more angry outbursts
  • more drug and alcohol use
  • greater tobacco use,
  • withdrawal from friends, family, and recreational pursuits, and
  • trouble sleeping (either trouble getting to sleep or going back to sleep).

› How Does Stress Affect Health

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