How Stress Affects Health
Stress is any change in your normal routine or health. Stress occurs when bad things happen, as well happy things. Getting a raise or promotion is stress, just as getting fired from your job is stress. Because of the overabundance of stress in our modern lives, we usually think of stress as a negative experience, but from a biological point of view, stress can be a neutral, negative, or positive experience. People’s behaviors and stress responses are major influences on health and disease.
Stressful life events are related to the risk of infected individuals developing an illness. Under stress your body instinctively goes into the fight or flight reaction. Immediately your body responds by releasing stress hormones, causing your blood pressure to rise, your mind to become alert and ready for the danger, your heart rate to increase, and your muscles to tense up (“How Does Stress Affect Health?”). Naturally, these changes are safe because they are meant to be temporary, the problem occurs when your body is repeatedly subjected to stressful situations. This is called chronic stress and occurs when the fight or flight reaction is constant and does not cease. At this point the hormones that were released for your protection now have free reign of the body (“How Does Stress Affect Health?”). Chronic stress can result in increased risk of many illnesses including heart disease, cancer, depression and obesity. It can also raise blood pressure, suppress the immune system, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, contribute to infertility, and speed up the aging process. Long-term stress can even rewire the brain, leaving you more vulnerable to anxiety and depression (Smith, R. Segal, J. Segal).
The secret to dealing with this stress before it gets to the stage of no return is to be aware of the changes in the body. By reacting to this change and altering your behavior to limit the stressful events you can reduce...