Stress is a double-edged sword. We need to absorb a certain amount of stress to get through life and to succeed in living it well. If we’re running in a race, we need that stress to push us over the finish line.
Some stress is healthy and part of being human. It’s our inner gladiator, winning the daily war. But when stress gets out of control, it can gravely impact your health.
Your mental health is only part of how stress can affect you. Your physical health can also be a victim of excessive stress.
If you’re reading this, you’ve probably been wondering how stress is affecting you. But how stress is affecting you is as individual as you are. Too much of it can make as a big a dent on you as it can on anyone else, but stress is going to manifest in different ways, for different people.
Stress flash points are sudden events which cause moderate to extreme stress. These can anything from the loss of a job to a natural disaster to being robbed at gunpoint.
Any sudden interruption in your emotional landscape can trigger a stress response. And when that stress is acute, it can lead to heart attacks. While these usually occur in those with heart disease, it may never have been diagnosed. It was the stress that raised the issue and ended a life.
When Stress Is a Lifestyle
Unrelenting stress at work, home or in your immediate environment is chronic. It becomes a lifestyle, as you find ways to cope. For some that’s smoking cigarettes, drinking or gambling. None of these are constructive habits.
The longer you’re living the stressed-out lifestyle the worse the effects become. You’re tired, cranky and demotivated, daring the world to come at you. But it’s the physical effects which may get your attention.
Type “D” personalities (people prone to chronic stress) tend to have worse outcomes with cardiac treatment because of the effect of long-term stress on the heart.
In fact, stress isn’t just bad for people who have unpredictable or weak hearts. It’s bad for all our cardiovascular health. The stressed-out lifestyle creates a continual “fight or flight” response in your body, wearing it down as the result of constantly being on red alert.
What to Do
Stress shouldn’t be running your life. That’s your job.
Make an achievable plan for self-care. Build activities into your day that inspire you and which nurture your wellbeing. Just the act of doing something for no other reason than to make yourself happy will improve your attitude and your stress levels.
And don’t neglect your relationships. Your friends and family love you, so let them in. Build trust and in so doing, build more solid support structures. Feeling connected is one of the most important aspects of being human. And a strong network of love is a great defense against the debilitating effects of stress.
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