Stress is one of those misunderstood health issues that can lead to serious problems. While a little stress is fine, stress overload is dangerous. Today we’re going to discuss the causes of stress, and what happens in your body when too much stress accumulates.
What Is Stress?
Stress is a system of physical and mental changes that takes place in response to a demand or threat. Some people perform better with a little bit of stress, but too much quickly becomes detrimental to performing tasks effectively. Stress is caused by the remains of our caveman ancestor’s fight or flight system. When threatened by a saber tooth tiger, that ancestor was able to see better, run faster, jump and climb higher. His or her muscle strength increased, blood pressure increased, and peak performance was available for a short burst.
All of this happened due to hormonal changes. Their nervous system released a flood of adrenaline and cortisol, and their chances of survival in a crisis improved.
Unfortunately today, we live in a very stimulating environment, and your body doesn’t really realize that the “threat” of traffic, deadlines, or your favorite team’s scoring record just isn’t on the same level as a tiger. Depending on how you respond to challenges, stress can be an almost constant part of your life, and your body isn’t designed to handle that type of ongoing stress well.
Signs and Symptoms of Stress
Stress has more wide ranging impact than most people realize. It effects our minds, emotions, body and behavior.
Mental/cognitive problems include:
- memory issues
- anxiety and worrying
- poor concentration
- focus on the negative
- poor judgement
Emotional symptoms of stress overload include:
- losing one’s temper
- feeling overwhelmed
Physical symptoms include:
- indigestion, heartburn or acid reflux
- diarrhea or constipation
- nausea, dizziness, or faintness
- frequent cold and flus
- aches and pains such as chest pain
- rapid heartbeat
- weight gain (or sometimes loss)
- loss of libido
Behavioral symptoms of too much stress:
- “stress” eating
- breakdown in relationships
- sleeping too much or too little
- procrastination and failure to achieve
- “self medicating” with alcohol or drugs
- nail biting or other nervous habits
Health Problems Caused Or Made More Severe By Stress Overload
As you can see, that’s a pretty grim list, and it takes a severe toll on the body. Stress overload can cause health problems, or make existing ones worse. Sometimes a vicious cycle develops, since the health issue causes stress, which makes the health issue worse, which causes more stress…
- chronic pain
- digestive issues
- high blood pressure
- heart condition
- risk of stroke
- sleep issues
- obesity or overweight
- autoimmune disease
- eczema or other skin problems
Recognizing Your Stressors
Typically, life changes, even those you choose such as moving to a new house, can be big stressors. Caring for children or elderly parents, or illness in the family are big causes of stress for some people. Changes at work or in relationships cause stress. Financial worries or difficulties can be a major source of stress overload, and of course so can your personal health issues.
One of the reasons the team of doctors and therapists at our integrative health practice is so effective at helping our patients is that we know there’s more to health than a physical checkup. We have a full range of services to support you when your level of stress gets too high. You don’t have to handle it alone. Call the practice at (+852) 2523 8044 for an appointment. We understand dealing with stress overload and we can help.