We generally think of stress as a blanket term, but in reality, stress shows up in many forms and can impact our well-being in more ways than we realize.
First off, let’s define stress.
Put simply, stress is a reaction to a change or challenge.
In more detailed terms, stress happens when you experience a stimulus that triggers your brain enough to send specific signals and chemicals throughout your nervous system. When this happens, your kidneys release stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, which set off a series of events that alert your entire body that “danger” is present. As these hormones course through our bodies, they can cause an array of side effects.
Sweaty palms, an uneasy stomach, and general nervousness are all symptoms that we recognize. They might pop up on a first date, before a presentation, or as you’re about to get on a rollercoaster. These are all forms of acute stress or short-term stress. Our body is equipped to handle acute stress because it’s only temporary.
Chronic stress is what can cause issues. Poverty, discrimination, abusive relationships, and stressful jobs can all be sources of chronic stress. In fact, even if you experience acute stress frequently enough, it can turn into chronic stress.
Why is chronic stress so much worse for the body? Basically, the longer and more frequently that you experience stress, the more your body has to adjust to keep functioning normally. Over time, your resting heart rate will increase, as will your blood pressure, breathing rate, and levels of muscle tension. In other words, chronic stress creates a new “normal” inside your body, which can lead to serious health consequences.
How do you feel like stress affects your life? What about your physical health? Do you feel like you regularly experience symptoms of stress?
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