The word stress is enough to unnerve someone. Everyone experiences stress at some point in their life. Some cope with stress much more effectively than others. It’s important to know your limits when it comes to stress in order to avoid serious health effects.
Stress has been defined as the brain’s response to any demand. There are many things that can trigger this response including negative changes, which can be real or perceived. These responses can be recurring, short-term, or long-term and may involve typical thinks like commuting to work, traveling, moving to another home, work stresses, family situations or more. Changes can be mild or relatively harmless, such as receiving a big promotion, watching a scary movie, or riding a rollercoaster. Some changes are major such as marriage or divorce, serious illness, or a car accident. While other changes are extreme, such as exposure to violence, which can lead to traumatic stress reactions.
Stress can be defined as the brain’s response to any demand. Many things can trigger this response, including change. Changes can be positive or negative, as well as real or perceived. They may be recurring, short-term, or long-term and may include things like commuting to and from school or work every day, traveling for a yearly vacation, or moving to another home. Changes can be mild and relatively harmless, such as winning a race, watching a scary movie, or riding a rollercoaster. Some changes are major, such as marriage or divorce, serious illness, or a car accident. Other changes are extreme, such as exposure to violence, and can lead to traumatic stress reactions.
Not all stress is a bad thing. In fact, all animals have a stress response, which can be life-saving in some situations. The nerve chemicals and hormones released during a stressful event prepares an animal to face a threat or flee to safety. When you face a dangerous situation, your pulse quickens, you breathe faster, your muscles tense, your brain uses more oxygen and increases activity – all functions aimed at survival. In the short term, it can even boost the immune system.
When someone experiences chronic stress, those same nerve chemicals that are life-saving in short bursts can suppress functions that aren’t needed for immediate survival. Your immunity is lowered and your digestive, excretory, and reproductive systems stop working normally. Once the threat is passed, other body systems stop working normally. Once the threat is passed, other body systems act to restore normal functioning. Where a person experience problems is when the stress response goes on too long, such as when the source of stress is constant, or if the response continues after the danger has passed.
There are at least three different types of stress, all of which carry physical and mental health risks:
Below is a graphic from the American Institute of Stress that clearly illustrates some alarming stress statistics.
If you are feeling stressed and your health is being impacted, schedule an appointment to see one of our physicians today. Call 251-414-5900 to schedule an appointment.