2 articles Articles posted in Stress

Investigating The Impacts Of Stress

credit

I recently spent a lot of time researching a post on stress and was alarmed to find out it is a hugely far-reaching problem that impacts many households. According to research, 8 million British people are suffering from stress, anxiety, and panic – and that number is rising by the year.

It’s also a lot more dangerous than I first thought, and there is a broad range of incredibly severe conditions and problems it can cause, both in physical terms and its effect on the average family life.

With this in mind, I thought I would go through some of the impacts stress can have on people, and why, if you are feeling stressed out or anxious, it’s vital to pay a visit to your doctor sooner rather than later. Let’s take a close look at all the effects of stress you need to watch out for.

Depression and psychological problems

Stress can often lead to depression, and while the two conditions are certainly linked, there are some fundamental differences. Stress is the feeling that you are under a lot of mental and emotional pressure, and once you have sorted out a particular problem it can often dissipate. Depression, however, can last years, hit you from nowhere, and can occur even when life seems OK.  While some stress is unavoidable in life, once you reach a severe or chronic level it can quite quickly turn into depression, which can then lead to long-term problems, suicidal thoughts, and an incredibly debilitating experience. If you are feeling stressed, it is essential that you get help sooner rather than later, as the switch to depression can happen all too quickly.

Immune system

Stress also weakens your immune system, which leaves you body in a state where it can’t fight of illnesses quite so well. You will find you pick up a lot of those niggly little colds and flu – and that they will last a longer time than usual. Many people who are stressed find themselves in a constant state of sickness, too, as they can’t shift minor illnesses and keep picking up new ones, purely down to the fact their immune system is not working properly. In the vast majority of cases, it’s irritation – most of us can get through life when suffering from colds and minor flu symptoms, however uncomfortable you might feel. However, in some cases, stress can actually lead to autoimmune diseases, which is a different kettle of fish altogether. Autoimmune diseases such as Crohn’s, celiac, or Hashimoto’s disease can cause huge problems on a permanent basis, and leave people needing treatment for the rest of their lives. If you think your current stress levels will go away by themselves eventually, don’t leave it too long – you are facing a lot more grave danger than you think.

Hair loss

Hair loss is not just a male problem. Over 6 million women in the UK suffer from hair loss at some point in their lives, and many of these cases are down to psychological problems – including stress. Scientists believe that the stress hormone cortisol is responsible for prematurely kicking out hairs from the head before they are naturally ready, and in cases of long-term stress, it can result in bald patches and extreme hair thinning. It can also be permanent in some cases – people who develop stress-related autoimmune conditions can lose their hair for good. There are solutions available, of course – from wigs to a hair transplant – but ultimately you need to deal with your stress before it becomes a problem. The impact it can have on your confidence is extreme, and while I’m all for embracing and celebrating different body shapes, the fact is that a lot of women would struggle if they lost their locks.

credit

Diabetes

Stress leads to high blood pressure and a high blood sugar level – the combination of which could see you develop a diabetic condition. While diabetes is eminently treatable these days, it’s important to remember that it is still incredibly dangerous, life-changing, and could be the death of you. You might end up having to inject yourself with insulin on a regular basis, and the lifestyle changes you will need to make will be extreme. Again, if you don’t want your stress levels to result in this serious condition, you need to make sure you get yourself treated by a doctor sooner rather than later.

Heart disease

When you feel stressed, it can cause enormous pressure on your chest and heart. In the short-term, it won’t cause much of a problem, but when your heart is under this constant stress for weeks or even months, it’s no surprise it can lead to a more severe condition. Your risk of heart attack increases when you are stressed, and it could result in everything from irregular heart beats to fully-blown cardiovascular disease. Studies show that there is a link between stress and how the way your blood clots, too, which can increase your chances of a clot entering the heart’s chambers and causing cardiac arrest.

Relationships

Of course, not all of the impacts of stress are physical – there is also the emotional impact it can have. When you are stressed, you are more likely to have arguments and fights with loved ones, lose your temper more often, and feel like disengaging from family life altogether. You will lose your sex drive, too. You will be completely exhausted by the symptoms of stress, unable to sleep, and incredibly emotional; none of which are ideal for improving – or even maintaining – your family relationships. It’s important that you are able to recognise your stress, talk about it, and deal with it, or you could end up causing lasting damage not just to yourself, but also your loved ones.

OK, so there you have it – a good look at the impacts stress can have on you if you leave it unchecked. While stress is part and parcel of life – who doesn’t get stressed when they move house, for example? – if it gets too much, you must seek out medical help. Not only does the condition lead to other psychological and relationship problems, but you could also end up with serious physical illness.

Popping The Stress Bubble

Stress has become one of the most commonly used words in our vocabulary. Sometimes, it can seem like we’re living in a stress bubble where everyone we meet has something going on, and there’s a shortage of time that makes it impossible to get everything done. If you feel like you’re always rushing or you’ve been struggling to deal with your emotions of late, you’re not alone. Almost everyone will endure at least one bout of severe stress in their lifetime. If you’re keen to pop the stress bubble, here are some tips to help you cope when times get tough.

Image taken from https://www.flickr.com/photos/firesam/5242760927

Managing your time

Many of us feel stressed not because we’re unhappy, but because we don’t have enough hours in the day to get through our to-do lists. If you’re running around like a headless chicken day in, day out, this is going to take its toll eventually. Time is a luxury for many, but often, making changes to the way you manage your diary can help. Firstly, work out why you’re struggling. Have you got too much on at work or have you been working overtime for as long as you can remember? If this is the case, it’s time to take control over the working day. If you’re exceeding your contracted hours, talk to your boss. It may be possible to reduce your workload, and it’s important that they are aware that you’re working too much. If you’re a parent, you may be finding it difficult to cope because you’re trying to be in a number of places at the same time. If you’ve got school runs and after school clubs to fit around work, it can be tough to make everyone’s schedules work. Ask for help from friends and family and try and join forces with other parents. If you can share lifts, for example, this could be mutually beneficial.

When you’re planning your week, use a diary or an app and make sure you have everything written down. If it looks like it’s going to be a hectic week, make some calls and see if people can help you out. Recognize that it’s ok to say no sometimes. If you can’t work longer hours or it’s going to be impossible to make your child’s swimming class this week, don’t pile more stress on yourself by trying to make everything work. When you’re scheduling, always remember to fit in some time for yourself. Life should never be all work and no play.

Image credit https://www.flickr.com/photos/santinet/9645395694

Addressing the cause

There are so many different reasons why people feel stressed. Sometimes, life gets hectic, and you feel like you’re under pressure. In other cases, there’s a trigger or an event, such as losing your job, a bereavement, illness or money worries. Whatever the situation, it’s always beneficial to think about why you feel stressed. Write down how you’re feeling and try and work out why. If you know what’s making you upset or anxious, it will be much easier to try and find ways of easing stress and making you feel happier and more comfortable.

Image by https://pixabay.com/en/photos/stressed/

Working on yourself

When it comes to thinking about how to deal with stress, everyone is different. We all respond to stress in different ways, and coping mechanisms are much more effective for some than others. When you’re stressed out, it’s important to recognise the triggers and symptoms and work on yourself. Put yourself first and try and combat symptoms before they get worse. There are lots of different self-help techniques you can try, and it’s also a good idea to seek medical advice if you’re struggling or the situation is getting worse.

Different methods work for different cases. If you’re exhausted, you’re under pressure at work, or you’re struggling to sleep at night because your mind is active, you may find techniques like meditation, yoga or creative activities beneficial. Write things down or paint a picture, note down some song lyrics or do some colouring in. Run a bath and listen to some music or download some guided meditations and find a quiet space for five minutes. Exercise can be hugely beneficial, and you can choose an activity to suit your mood. Pilates and yoga can help you relax and wind down while something like a spin class, a boxing session or high-intensity interval training can help you release tension, frustration, and anger. Getting more sleep and off-loading can also help. If you have a friend, a partner or a relative you can confide in, share what’s going on in your head. If you don’t feel comfortable ranting or pouring your heart out to somebody you know, it may be worth talking to your doctor about counselling.

In some cases, self-help techniques can be effective, but they’re not powerful enough to get you back on track. Therapies such as talking treatments and medication may be recommended.

Image source: https://pixabay.com/en/yoga-asana-sarasvati-sports-1694565/

Spotting early signs

When you’ve battled stress before and won, it’s really beneficial to keep an eye out for triggers and early warning signs. If you feel like you’re getting stressed again, don’t let it get worse. Take some time out, sort your diary out or see your counsellor again. Use any methods you found effective last time to help reduce symptoms this time around.

Image courtesy of https://www.flickr.com/photos/pedrosimoes7/8578279742

We hear people talking about stress all the time. Sometimes, we’re guilty of saying that we’re stressed out without stress really being an issue, but there’s no denying that stress has a significant impact on our lives. If you are under pressure, you’re worried or anxious about work, money or relationships or you’re trying to come to terms with illness or the loss of a loved one, it’s important to try and manage stress and to understand that it’s fine to ask for help. Stress is often something we can shrug off, but if it’s left to fester, it can become more serious, and it can have a damaging effect on both physical and mental health. If you are finding life a challenge, there’s no harm in trying some relaxation therapies and seeking advice from your doctor.