Stress can be defined as the body’s reaction to harmful situations and events. When stressed, the body releases hormones like cortisol and adrenaline to prepare to defend against perceived physical or emotional threats. While occasional stress can benefit performance, chronic stress causes wear and tear on the body and mind. This article will explore the multidimensional nature of stress – how we test for it, how it manifests physically, tools to manage it, if it can make us sick, and more.
Stress tests are diagnostic procedures designed to analyze the effects of stress on the cardiovascular system. There are several types of cardiac stress tests:
Cardiologist Dr Maya Nath says:
”Stress tests help determine if adequate blood flows to the heart muscle when demand rises, which could indicate blockages in the coronary arteries.”
In contrast, non-stress tests like resting ECGs analyze heart function under normal non-stressed conditions. They do not assess how the cardiovascular system performs when under duress. Both stress tests and non-stress tests provide valuable but different diagnostic information.
The effects of stress extend beyond mental strain – stress can also manifest physically in the body. One example is stress acne, a skin condition aggravated or triggered by anxiety. The scientific term for stress-induced acne is acne excoriate.
According to dermatologist Dr Sheena Kohli:
”In acne excoriate, picking and scratching acne lesions causes additional comedones and scarring, which leads to more stress about the worsening skin condition. It becomes a vicious stress-acne cycle.”
There are several ways stress contributes to acne:
To treat stress acne, Dr Kohli recommends:
Controlling stress is critical to managing stress-induced flare-ups and preventing acne scarring.
The stress ball is a simple yet effective tool for managing and reducing stress. These small, squeezable balls provide a productive outlet for nervous energy and anxiety.
How do stress balls help relieve stress?
Occupational therapist Amy Fuller states:
”Stress balls provide sensory input which shifts the mind and body\’s focus away from stress and anxiety.”
Regularly using stress balls can reduce anxiety, improve mood, and boost stress resilience. They offer a simple, portable way to manage daily stressors.
We all know stress takes a toll mentally, but can it make you physically ill? Chronic emotional stress weakens the immune system\’s ability to fight off illnesses.
Immunologist Dr Charles Smith explains:
”Stress hormones like cortisol interfere with the body\’s normal immune response by reducing the proliferation of immune cells needed to fight infection.”
The body is more susceptible to illness when stressed without adequate immune defences.
Studies indicate that chronic stress increases the likelihood and severity of:
An infection or illness primarily triggers fevers. Therefore, stress alone cannot directly cause a fever. However, prolonged stress suppresses immunity and raises susceptibility to fevers from infectious diseases. It can also heighten and extend fever and flu symptoms due to its effects on inflammation.
The risk of stress-related sickness can be mitigated by learning to manage stress effectively.
Beyond mental exhaustion, workplace stress also jeopardizes employees’ physical health. Combining job strain and chronic stress creates an unseen threat to well-being.
Strategies employees can use to minimize work stress include:
As clinical psychologist, Dr. Reeves suggests:
”The key is taking preventative steps to manage stress before it causes health problems.”
How long we remain sick from a stress-weakened immune system depends on the illness and reducing the underlying stress. Acute illnesses like stomach bugs or sinus infections may last days to weeks. Chronic stress-aggravated conditions like autoimmune diseases can persist and relapse for months to years.
You may be suffering extended symptoms if stress has:
To minimize the recurrence and duration of stress-related illness:
One way to decrease stress levels is by changing your daily routine. Be sure to consult your physician with any lasting concerns.
While this article has focused on ”stress”, some synonyms for stress that also describe its effects include: Pressure, Tension, Strain, Distress, Anxiety, Worry, Burden, Load
Learning new words to describe stress can offer a variety of nuanced viewpoints.
Using alternative words for stress can make conversations more straightforward when describing complex experiences. It also reduces the overuse of the word ”stress” itself.
Stress\’s profound impact on physical and mental health highlights the importance of managing stress effectively. While removing all stress is unrealistic, proactively mitigating its harmful effects can help us avoid stress-induced illness and lasting impairment. To stay healthy, practice self-care set boundaries, rely on support, and cope with stress.