How Stress Affects Your Health

woman staring out a window

We’ve all experienced stress at one time or another, but do you know what stress actually is?

Stress is your body’s reaction to any demand or change in your environment that requires you to respond or adjust. Stress-provoking changes are often negative (such as a job loss or death in the family) but can also be positive (such as a promotion or a baby being born). Whatever the reason for stress, your body reacts to it with mental, emotional, and physical responses.

Here are a few more things you should know about stress, how it affects your health, and how to keep it under control.

Not All Stress Is Bad

We often think of stress in a negative way, but it’s not inherently bad. Stress is actually part of the body’s built-in fight or flight response, which causes physiological changes (quickening pulse and breath, tensing muscles, increased oxygen supply to the brain, and so on) that prepare your body to face a challenge. In emergencies, this stress response could help you survive.

Stress can also help encourage you to achieve something: It might prompt you to prepare for an upcoming job interview or trip.

[Related: How Life Stressors Affect Work Productivity]

Effects of Chronic Stress on Your Health

Stress becomes problematic when it turns chronic. The source of your stress may be constant, or you may continue to feel stressed even when the stressful situation has passed. Routine or constant stress is especially hard to notice, as your body gets no signal to resume normal functioning and a strained state becomes your new normal.

Whatever the cause of your chronic stress, the same physiological responses that help during fight or flight situations will start to affect your health negatively. Different people experience stress in different ways, but side effects often include:

  • Headaches
  • Upset stomach
  • High blood pressure
  • Chest pain
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Skin conditions
  • Sleeplessness
  • Depression
  • Panic attacks
  • Anxiety and worry
  • Weight loss or gain

And while you may think that stress doesn’t affect you, stress is actually highly prevalent

  • Between 75% and 90% of all doctor’s visits are related to stress-induced complaints.
  • 43% of adults experience adverse health effects because of stress.
  • According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), stress is a hazard in the workplace and costs American industry over $300 billion every year.

 

[Related: Why Self-Care Is Crucial, and How to Make the Time for It]

How to Manage Stress

Luckily, certain steps can help you reduce and manage your stress and lead a healthier, happier life. Try to:

  • Practice self-care.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Exercise.
  • Eat well.

 

[Related: 15-Minute Habits That Add Balance to Your Day]

Of course, one of the best ways to feel less stressed is to call in some help.

Pepper’s Personal Assistants can help when you’re overwhelmed with a messy house, family visiting, the upcoming school year, an approaching trip, or all of the above. In addition to handling chores, household management, and errands, we can organize, plan trips and events, and get your house ready for guests. Stressful situations are our specialty.

Contact us today for a complimentary consultation!

Featured image via Unsplash

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