The Causes and Signs of Stress

By admin / February 12, 2009
By: Valerie Balandra NP
Category: Stress Management

Most people live their day-to-day lives believing that it is common and normal to have stress, and do not find it unusual that they are more often stressed than not. There are many causes of stress in daily life, many of which are beyond our control. Although the cause may be beyond control, the way in which we react to and deal with these stressors is within our control. The truth is, people who suffer from stress are unaware of the adverse health effects that their stress is causing.

We are bombarded daily by physical, emotional, and environmental stressors. When the body senses a threat, stress hormones are released by the nervous system. The hormones released are adrenaline and cortisol, which trigger the body's primal fight-or-flight reflex. The body's physiological reaction to these hormones include an increase in blood pressure, rate of breathing, heart rate, a tensing of the muscles and a sharpening of the senses. All these changes serve to better prepare the body for its chosen threat reaction; namely the fight or the flight.

When functioning correctly, the threat reaction can save lives. The stress caused by the vast majority of modern-day issues, however, are not life-threatening and do not require the triggering of the fight or flight reaction. When stress takes over your life, it becomes a threat to your health instead of a way to react to danger.

A stress response cannot differentiate between a physical and psychological threat. Major concerns at work or in your relationship will invoke your threat reaction just the same as an aggressive person would. Since many of us live with daily stress, we are more acclimated to it and further threat reactions will be triggered more quickly.

Once your body is in "Alarm Mode" more often than it is not, serious health problems are very near. This is considered to be "chronic stress", which leads to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Long-term stress has also been associated with anxiety, depression, sleep problems, obesity, pain, heart disease, autoimmune disease and digestive trouble. The body is simply not built to live in a constant state of threat-alertness.

Everyone's stress triggers are different; some experience stress due to rush hour traffic, some are stressed by deadlines at work, and some people are set off by trouble at home. Anything and everything can be stressful, however the top causes of stress across the board are usually the same: the death of someone close, divorce and separation, marriage, jail and legal trouble, injury, illness, job loss and retirement.

To help stave off serious medical problems, learn the signs of excessive stress. The most common physiological manifestations of stress are diarrhea, constipation, aches and pains, a fast heartbeat, nausea, lack of sex drive, significant change in appetite, dizziness, change in sleep habits, and an increased occurrence of illness.

Some simple ways to reduce stress are:

*Manage your time. A hectic schedule with no time for relaxation is can contribute to increased stress levels. Set priorities and try to eliminate some activities and give yourself time to relax.

*Exercise is a great stress reliever. Yoga, Tai Chi, and walking help relax your mind and body.

*Talk with friends and family. Maintaining close personal contacts and communicating are vital to improving your stress level.

*Get your 8 hours of sleep! Your mind and body need that down time to repair and rejuvenate.

*Change your employment. Although an extreme measure, if your job or career is causing you too much stress, it may be time to consider a change in order to improve your physical and mental health.

Remember, stress affects each person differently and the above signs are only the most common. Not every person will have the same symptoms. If you feel that your life is being taken over by stress, do not hesitate seek help.

Learn more about stress and natural stress supplements by visiting Valerie Balandra is a nurse practitioner that takes a naturopathic approach to healthcare. Valerie is available for phone consultations at 941 371-7337.

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