Stress are linked to some physical, psychological and emotional disorders. To name them; depression, anxiety, heart attacks, strokes, hypertension, immune system disturbances that leads to higher risk of infections, host of viral linked disorders ranging from common cold, herpes to AIDS and certain cancers, autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. It affects as well our skin causing rashes, hives, atopic dermatitis, the gastro intestinal system [GERD, peptic ulcer, irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis] and can contributed to insomnia and degenerative neurological disorder like Parkinson’s disease.
Signs and Symptoms of Stress are the following:
- Frequent headaches , jaw clinching or pain
- Teeth grinding
- Tremors or trembling of lips, hands and feet
- Neck pain, back pain and muscle spasm
- Cold or sweaty hands/feet
- Frequent colds/ herpes sores/ infection
- Heartburn, stomach pain, nausea
- Increased anger/frustration/hostility
- Loss of appetite/swallowing problem
- Trouble learning new information
- Depression and mood swings
- Forgetfulness, disorganized, confused
- Overwhelmed and unproductive
- Social withdrawal
- Constant mistakes
How our Body System affected by stress?
Nervous System– if psychologically or physically stressed the body systems shifts into a ” Fight or Flight” response, the sympathetic nervous system signal the adrenal glands to release adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones make the heart beat faster, raises blood pressure, change the digestive process and boost glucose level in the blood stream.
Musculoskeletal System –under stress muscle tense up. Once muscle contracted for long period of time triggers headache, migraines and various musculoskeletal conditions.
Respiratory System –makes a person breathe faster or hyperventilating and leads to a panic attack to some people.
Cardiovascular System –acute stress increases heart beat and prolong contraction of the heart muscles. Blood vessels that direct blood to the large muscle and to the heart dilate, increasing the amount pumped to these parts of the body. Repeated episodes of acute stress can cause inflammation to the arteries and leads to possible heart attack.
Endocrine System – Adrenal Glands-Once body is stressed, the body send signals from the hypothalamus causing the adrenaline and cortex to produce cortisol and the adrenal medulla to produce epinephrine oftentimes called “stress hormones”. Liver –when epinephrine and cortisol are released , the liver produces glucose,a blood sugar that give us a“fight or flight”in an emergency.
Gastrointestinal System – Esophagus– stress may prompt you to eat more or less than you usually do.Stomach –You feel like there are “butterflies “, you may vomit if you are really stressed. Bowel –you feel that food move easily or you may have lose stool and constipation.
Reproductive Systems –In men if having high level of cortisol in the body can affect the normal function of the reproductive system. Chronic stress can impair testosterone and sperm production and cause impotence. In women stress can cause absent of irregular menstrual cycle or painful period. It also decrease sexual desire.
Coping Mechanism of Stressors
- Avoid Caffeine, Alcohol and Nicotine
- Indulge in Physical Activity
- Get more Sleep
- Engage in Relaxation Techniques
- Talk to Someone
- Keep a Stress Diary
- Take Control
- Manage your time
- Learn to say NO
- Rest if you are iLl
Take good care of your own body, we only live once! Don’t abuse it, rather nurture it!
Reyna Loreto Holly
References: Dealing with Stress; Skills You Need; American Institute of Stress; WebMd