How does emotional stress have physical effects?

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How does emotional stress have physical effects?

Do you feel too much emotional tension and that too much is required of you? Do not sleep well worried about exams and homework? Do you hurry because you’re too busy? You’re not alone. Everyone – adults, teenagers and even children – go through stressful times. However, there are ways to reduce it and deal with what is inevitable.

What is stress?

Stress is a feeling we create when we react to certain events. It is the way in which the body faces a challenge and prepares to act in a difficult situation with focus, strength, vigor and mental acuity.

The events that cause stress cover a variety of situations – from being in physical danger to making a presentation in class or taking a semester with the most difficult subject.

The human body responds to these situations by activating the nervous system and certain hormones. The hypothalamus sends signals to the adrenal glands to produce more adrenaline and cortisol and send these hormones into the bloodstream. These hormones increase heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure and metabolism. The blood vessels widen to allow more blood circulation to the muscles, putting them on alert. The pupils dilate to improve vision. The liver releases part of the stored glucose to increase the body’s energy. And the body produces sweat to cool down. All these physical changes prepare the person to react quickly and effectively when they feel emotional tension.

This reaction is known as a response to stress . When it works properly, this reaction is the best way for the person to function under pressure. But the response to stress can also cause problems when it is extreme.

Good and bad stress

The response to stress ( combat response or flight ) is critical in emergency situations, such as when a driver has to stop the car suddenly to avoid an accident. It is also activated in a more simple way when the person is tense, although not in danger – like when your hit can win the game; when you prepare for a party or when you are doing a final exam. A little stress of this kind can help you stay attentive, ready to face any challenge. And the nervous system returns to normal, ready to respond again when necessary.

But stress is not always a reaction to immediate or momentary things. Progressive or long-term events, such as a divorce or moving to a new neighborhood or school, can also cause stress. Long-term situations can produce a stress of low intensity, but lasting, causing difficulties for the person. The nervous system feels a continuous tension and remains relatively active in order to continue releasing additional hormones for a prolonged period of time. This can deplete the body’s reserves, causing the person to feel exhausted or overwhelmed, weakening the body’s immune system and causing other problems.

What causes an overload of stress?

Although a sufficient amount of stress may be good, an overload is something apart – no one benefits from too much stress. For example, having a little stress because you have an exam can motivate you to study more. But when the exam causes you a lot of stress, you focus less on the subject you need to learn.

Pressures that are extremely intense, that last for a long time, or the problems that need to be faced without help, can cause an overload of stress. Here are several situations that can be overwhelming if they continue for a long time:

  • be a victim of intimidation or be exposed to violence or physical injury
  • tensions, family conflicts, sadness caused by a broken heart, or the death of a loved one
  • ongoing problems at school caused by a learning problem or any other problem such as (ADHD) – attention deficit disorder due to hyperactivity, which stops causing stress once it is recognized and treated with the appropriate support.
  • always be in a hurry, not having time to rest and relax, and always be in movement

Sometimes the stress is extreme and needs special attention. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a very strong reaction that can occur in people who have gone through an extremely traumatic situation, such as a serious car accident, a natural disaster such as an earthquake, or an aggression such as rape.

Some people have anxiety problems that cause extreme stress reactions, turning small difficulties into major crises. If a person feels tense, angry or worried or tense frequently, they may suffer from anxiety. Anxiety problems usually need attention, and many people seek the help of a professional counselor to overcome them.

Signs of stress overload

People who are going through stress overload show some of the following symptoms:

  • anxiety or panic attacks
  • constant pressure, confusion and hurry
  • irritability and melancholy
  • physical symptoms: stomach problems, headaches and chest pains
  • Allergic reactions: eczema and asthma
  • sleep problems
  • Too much drinking, overeating, smoking or using drugs
  • sadness or depression

All people feel stress in a different way. Some people get angry, behaving inappropriately and taking revenge on others. Other people hide it and begin to suffer from food problems or abuse of illegal substances. People who suffer from a chronic illness also notice that the symptoms of their illness increase when they have an overload of stress.

Keep stress under control

What can you do to manage stress overload, or better yet, eliminate it? The best method to cope with stress is to learn to manage the stress that accompanies any challenge; either good or bad. The art of managing stress is perfected if it is used regularly, not only when under pressure. Knowing how to eliminate stress and doing it during calm situations can help you through difficult circumstances that may arise. Here are several suggestions that help control stress:

  • Do not overload yourself with activities. If you feel tense, think about eliminating one or two activities, choosing to keep the most important.
  • Keep it real. Do not try to be perfect – nobody is. Expecting perfection from others increases the level of your stress (not to mention the pressure you exert on others). If you need help with something, like school work, ask for it.
  • Sleep well. When the amount of hours needed is asleep, the body and mind are kept in good condition, being able to handle any negative situation that causes stress. Because the biological “sleep clock” changes during adolescence, many adolescents prefer to go to bed later in the night and sleep later in the morning. But if you go to bed late and have to get up early to go to school, you will not sleep the necessary amount of hours.
  • Learn to relax. The body’s natural antidote to stress is called the relaxation response. It is the opposite of stress and creates a sense of calm and well-being. The chemical benefits of the relaxation response can be activated simply by relaxing. You can provoke the relaxation response if you learn some simple breathing exercises and use them when you are in a situation that causes you stress. (Click on the button to learn about one). Make sure you stay relaxed and take time to enjoy activities that calm you down and are pleasant: read a good book, take time to enjoy your favorite pastime, play with your favorite pet, or take a relaxing bath.
  • Take care of your body. Experts agree that exercising regularly helps people manage stress. (Excessive or compulsive exercise can contribute to stress, therefore, should be done in moderation) Eat well so that your body works in the best way possible. When you feel stress, it is easy to eat hastily and eat fast foods or foods that are not nutritious. When you have stress, your body needs more vitamins and minerals than ever before. Some people use drugs to escape emotional stress. Although it seems that alcohol and drugs relieve emotional tension momentarily, the reality is that relying on them causes more stress because it affects the natural ability of the body to recover.
  • Take care of your thoughts Your perspectives, attitude and thoughts greatly influence the way you perceive situations. Is your glass half full or half empty? A good dose of optimism will help you get ahead in difficult situations. Even if you do not practice or are somewhat pessimistic, we can all learn to think more optimistically and enjoy the benefits.
  • Solve simple problems. Learning to solve everyday problems makes you feel in control. Avoiding them can make you feel that you have little control of the situation, causing you even more stress. Learn to assess the situation calmly, to think about the options you have, and to take the necessary steps to solve the problem. When you feel capable of solving small problems, you will have the confidence to solve more complex problems – which will help you in situations that cause you a lot of stress.

Increase your resistance

Have you noticed that certain people seem to adapt to difficult circumstances without getting upset? They remain calm under pressure and can solve problems as they arise. Researchers have identified the qualities that make certain people naturally resistant even when faced with stressful circumstances. If you want to increase your resistance, try to acquire these attitudes and behaviors:

  • Think of changes as normal challenges in your life.
  • Recognize the delays and defeats as a momentary problem that you can solve.
  • Think you will succeed if you continue to advance toward your goal.
  • Solve problems when they arise
  • Establish strong relationships and fulfill your commitments with your family and friends.
  • Get a good support system and ask for help.
  • Participate in activities to relax and have fun regularly

Learn to think that challenges are opportunities and difficult situations are not disasters, but momentary problems. Solve problems and ask for help and advice from other people, instead of complaining and allowing stress to build up. Set your own goals and keep up with your progress. Take time to relax. Be optimistic. Believe in yourself. Breathe Allow a little bit of stress to motivate you to take positive action that will help you reach your goals.

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