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The Causes And Effects Of Stress On Your Body

by | Mental Health

Apr 25, 2020

I have outlined the causes and effects of stress in this article. I hope you find it helpful. 

What stresses one person may not stress another. Stress itself is not necessarily harmful. However, learning how to deal with it is important to your physical and mental well-being.

What is Stress

Stress is a natural response that enables you to deal with challenging or dangerous situations. Any intrinsic or extrinsic stimulus that evokes a biological response is known as stress. 

Stress is a normal part of life. You can experience stress from your environment, body, and even thoughts. The causes and effects of stress can vary from one person to person. The body reacts to these changes with physical, mental, and emotional responses. 

5 common causes of Stress on Your Body

1. Insecurity—financial, job, or otherwise

While most of us feel insecure sometimes, some feel insecure most of the time. This can come as a result of different factors:

  • Financial problems
  • Job search
  • The kind of childhood you had
  • Past traumas
  • Recent experiences of failure or rejection
  • Loneliness
  • Social anxiety
  • Negative beliefs about yourself
  • Perfectionism
  • Having a critical parent or partner.

All these can contribute to insecurity.—which can subsequently lead to stress.

2. A demanding routine

Demanding routine can take a huge toll on everyone. Demands can come from work, relationships, financial pressures, and other situations. 

These demanding routines can pose a real or perceived challenge or threat to a person’s well-being—which in turn can cause stress.

Also, when there are too many stressors at one time, it can undermine a person’s mental and physical health and become harmful.

3. Interpersonal conflicts

Interpersonal conflicts happen as a result of quarrels, arguments, an uncomfortable atmosphere during a conversation, or activity, negative attitudes or behavior between two or more persons. 

The most studied organizational stressors are interpersonal conflicts with supervisors and/or coworkers, lack of control, work overload, role conflict, role ambiguity, lack of autonomy, lack of support, job insecurity, long work hours, and situational constraints.

4. A traumatic experience

When you experience a traumatic event, your body’s defenses take effect and create a stress response, which may make you feel a variety of physical symptoms, behave differently and experience more intense emotions. 

A study by psychologists has found that traumatic life events are the biggest cause of anxiety and depression, but how a person thinks about these events determines the level of stress they experience.

5. Childhood stress

Apart from adults, children also suffer from stress. Many kids are bullied at school or neglected at home. 

Others are abused physically, emotionally, or sexually. Many are anxious about tests or exams and school grades. Still, others see their family torn apart by divorce, quarreling, and fighting. 

Stressed children may have nightmares, learning difficulties, depression, or a tendency to be withdrawn. Some seem unable to control their emotions. A child suffering from stress needs urgent help.

8 Effects of Stress on Your Body

Stress seems to worsen or increase the risk of conditions like 

1. Insomnia—sleep disorder

Sleeping problems are one of the effects of stress on our bodies. Stress keeps people awake at night due to worry, anxiety, or uncertainty about the future. 

Some people worry about their jobs, while others are concerned about family issues or health problems. 

2. Obesity

Stress can also cause obesity. A medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may have an adverse effect on health, resulting in severe health problems. 

3. Heart disease

Stress can make anyone’s heart beats rapidly, strongly or irregularly, and increase pulse rate as well as blood pressure. Over time, severe stress can damage the heart with increased wear and tear for the reasons just mentioned.

4. Diabetes

Diabetes develops when the amount of sugar in your blood becomes very high. It could come as a result because of the following reasons. Either because your body doesn’t produce enough insulin or because your body doesn’t respond to insulin.

5. Depression

Stress can make a person feel angry or hopeless, which can lead to depression. Also, stress can make you feel less able to maintain positive habits, which are important to managing depression. 

For this reason, the symptoms of depression feel more intense. Therefore, resulting in further stress, which can then make depression symptoms worse.

6. Emotional exhaustion

Stress can emotionally exhaust you completely. Thereby making you feel tired most of the time. 

Additionally, emotional exhaustion is a state of feeling emotionally worn-out and drained due to accumulated stress from your personal or work lives, or a combination of both.

7. Deteriorating relationships

Stress can cause and have a massive effect on relationships. Someone who is absorbed by their own stress may become less emotionally available to their partner. 

Subsequently, their partners will start thinking about leaving the relationship. Also, this then becomes an additional source of stress for the couple.

8. Stress disrupts healthy coping strategies

When people experience stress, they often stop engaging in some healthy coping strategies that usually help keep their mood on track. 

In other words, when stress triggers a lowered mood, it’s more likely that the person will skip their typical healthy mood regulation strategies, thus resulting in further mood problems.

10 Ways to manage and reduce the causes and effects of stress

  • Try to give yourself some downtime and get adequate rest
  • When someone upsets you, try to stay calm. 
  • Eat a well-balanced, healthy diet
  • Get enough sleep and exercise.
  • Confide in a trusted family member or friend
  • Limit caffeine and alcohol intake, and don’t use nicotine, cocaine, or other street drugs.
  • Take breaks from work
  • Spend time with family or friends
  • Learn to make things with your hands or learn to play a musical instrument
  • Do not continually focus on worst-case scenarios. Such thinking does little more than drain emotional reserves.

If you do not believe you are successfully managing the stressors in your life, get help from your healthcare provider or mental health professional. 

By Aleksandra Nico

Dr. Aleksandra Nico is a licensed clinical psychologist. She is in private practice in Brunswick and has experience in a wide variety of areas, including mood-related difficulties, anxiety, psychosis, trauma, addictions, personality disorders, and anger management. Dr. Nico completed a Ph.D. at the University of Nevada.

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