Stress 101

11 out of 10 people you know will probably tell you that they are stressed.

While my statistics is clearly over exaggerated, it does strike a reality that majority of people across the globe feel that
they are stressed out. Especially in the Philippines where several industries, particularly the BPO arena are ever increasing
their workforce and raising the bar high in employee performance.

But what does stress or being stressed out truly means? How does it affect us and what happens when we let too much stress control our lives? 

Stress

While some people view stress as negative, stress is the body’s normal reaction to different demands of life. Stress in
medical terms is a factor or feeling that creates mental tension. It normally occurs as what we call “fight or flight”
mechanism in our bodies, whenever we face a situation that we consider as life threatening.

However, what the body cannot distinguish is the difference between physical or psychological threats. Paying the bills, a lover’s quarrel, or a difficult day at work can trigger our flight or fight mechanism thus creating stress in our bodies.

Statistics

Here are some of the worrying numbers about stress you might not be  aware of:

  • Work stress causes 10% of strokes
  • Stress is the basic cause of 60% of all human illness and diseases
  • Stress shrinks the brain literally which causes major issues with our relationships and decision making.
  • 40% of people who are stressed eat foods that are not health
  • 44% of stressed people do not sleep well.

(source: American Institute of Stress)

Causes of Stress

There are myriads of stress inducing factors – here are some of the most popular ones:

1. Happy Stress

There are times when our stress can be okay. Whenever you need to speak in public, take a high jump in bungee jumping, ride a roller coaster or sing in front of people you don’t know – stress helps you out to overcome those situations.

2. Survival stress

This is the most common type of stress that is wired in our bodies. This is the flight or fight
response that we feel whenever a dangerous situation or person is around. Our body produces cortisol that gives
us a boost of energy to give us the capability to either figh0,t or escape whatever situation or person we come
across to.

3. Internal stress

This is also known as episodic acute stress, which is when we make ourselves feel stressed.
The sad reality is that we tend to do it to ourselves consciously. Some people love to live and get addicted to a
tensed lifestyle. This kind of stress is the stress we can manage. Typically, internal stress can be classified as
either of the following:

a. The Competitive Stress – People who have this type of stress are those who are aggressive, impatient
and most of the time feel hurried about everything. While some may say that these are good qualities,
doctors say that these people normally acquire this because of their insecurities or the need to prove
something.
b. The Worry Stress – This type of stress is experienced by people who always worry. They get worried
about everything and feel that their environment is hostile and they need to be always on guard.

How stress can kill you

Can stress kill? Yes, it can. Let’s look at some of the ways chronic stress can have life damaging effects in our bodies:

1. Stress kills the brain

There are different ways on how chronic stress slowly kills our brains by changing its size,
structure and how it functions:

  • Chronic stress increases the activity level and neural connections in the part of our brain called amygdala.
    This is our brain’s fear center. And as it activates our fear center activates, our hippocampus – the part of
    our brain associated with learning, memory and stress control is slowly deteriorating due to cortisol
  • Cortisol literally causes our brains to shrink. When our brain shrinks, the prefrontal cortex which is where
    our decision-making abilities, social interaction and behavior comes from is majorly affected.
  • Chronic stress also prohibits the regeneration of brain cells which makes it harder for you to learn new
    things and may lead to depression and other serious mental problems.
2. Stress kills the heart

Stressed cause sickness such as depression heightens the risk for several heart diseases.
And whenever our hearts are constantly bombarded with stress hormones, it weakens it which causes the broken
heart syndrome. Asides from these direct effects, stress causes an individual to make unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as bad eating habits, which affects the heart

3. Stress kills the tummy

Your digestive system and brain are in constant communication always. Ever felt going to the bathroom whenever a stressful situation arises? That is because stress may cause IBS or irritable bowel syndrome. IBS patients showed abnormal levels of cortisol in their digestive system, according to a Mayer’s research. Asides from these 3 major areas of the body, stress also affects our immune system, our metabolic system and also our cells. Overall, chronic stress will kill you if left unchecked.

Asides from these 3 major areas of the body, stress also affects our immune system, our metabolic system and also
our cells. Overall, chronic stress will kill you if left unchecked.

Defeat Stress Today

While stress may be deadly, the good news is that it can be defeated.

1. Exercise

While this may sound stressful, the truth is that exercising releases a neurotransmitter that is called GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid). What GABA does is it regulates communication between brain cells. Particularly, GABA plays an important role in minimizing stress by controlling our anxiety and fear which is normally caused by our neurons getting overexcited.

2. Reflect

As stress is more of a mental tension, taking the time off to reflect helps your brain to alleviate stress. Spending some quiet time and helping yourself pause for a while will help your body recuperate from the hard demands of life. Spend your weekends of your rest days wisely by taking time to disconnect from other sources and connect to God.

3. Spend Quality Time with People who matters

One proven way to lessen stress in the body is through valid social interactions. Oxytocin, which is a feel-good hormone is secreted whenever we do quality time with people we enjoy life with. While this may seem non-prescriptive, it may actually be the most important. We are created to make fellowship together and that is why it is important to also connect to others. Here are some ways you
can do that:

  • Massage session with your partner – Massage is very intimate and it is also relaxing. Instead
    of getting massaged in establishments, consider having your own massage session at home.
  • Use topical oils that have a chamomile scent such as Oleia to make it very effective.
  • Chamomile is known to relax us and your partner massaging you will release large amounts
    of oxytocin. Asides from that, a loving touch makes all the difference.
  •  Schedule a vacation – Many people do not take vacation leaves because they think it will dampen, or
    make them less efficient at work but the wakeup call is this – Taking a vacation will rejuvenate you and
    make you better at what you do. That’s the Law of Pausing. Have fun and enjoy because it will make
    your body feel refreshed and will make you more alive when you come back.

You can win in life by controlling how life comes at you.

Reduce stress by making the right choices today.

 

About The Author

Manuel is a guy who loves books. He enjoys reading and does it whenever he can. If he’s not reading, he spends time with his family and also ministers to teenagers in a local church. He does public speaking and talks about issues concerning the youth and young professionals. An Oleia topical oil user and content contributor.

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