The True Dangers of Stress

Published: 08th January 2009
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Most people in today's fast-paced world could not imagine life without stress. While stress is a normal reaction in some situations, a constant cycle of stress is dangerous and cannot be sustained. Stress starts in your brain and sends signals to all parts of your body, affecting you in ways you probably never imagined.

Stress can affect the immune system, heart, lungs and your mood. All of the physical reactions to stress are a direct result of the rush of hormones sent out by your brain, which cause a chain reaction throughout the body.

Let's appreciate for a moment the miracle of the human body. When we feel threatened, we have a reaction commonly called "fight or flight". This is a necessary function that can save your life in a serious situation when you may need to fight an enemy or run from danger. It came in really handy for our ancient ancestors who did not enjoy a civilized society, but nowadays, this function can be overused in less threatening situations and can become almost habitual.

As the brain senses fear, it increases the production of adrenaline that stimulates all parts of our body. The effect starts with the heart, which in reaction to the increased adrenaline, will beat harder and faster. The lungs will begin to hyperventilate, increasing the oxygen pumped into the lungs that is needed in the bloodstream to run from a threat.

This can exacerbate respiratory conditions like asthma. This hormonal reaction will also make your eyes dilate and make your hearing more acute for a short time. While this reaction is normal in dangerous scenarios, it can begin to happen in a lesser degree because of everyday stressors.

Money, work and children can all add up to feeling overwhelmed and stressed out, causing the same release of hormones and the physical chain reaction affecting the entire body. Even your skin and hair will react after long term stress: your hair can thin out and skin conditions like acne and rashes can appear or worsen. There are many of us that do not even realize that we are walking around every day in a constant state of nervous tension and causing damage to many parts of our bodies.

You know the familiar feeling of knots in your neck or back muscles after a particularly trying day? That is thanks to your brain telling your muscles to tighten up in preparation for a fight. There are even diseases that you become more susceptible to like shingles. Shingles is caused by a herpes virus but is very often triggered by stress. Over extended periods of time this hyper-stress starts setting off lifelong problems. So it is logical that stress must be dealt with in a different way: a way that does not allow stress to set off the hormonal reaction and thus the physical reaction.

There are many ideas out there for dealing with everyday stressors that offer new ways to react to problems but these must be put into practice in every situation. In order to address this issue one must look for tried and true methods. The answer must be a new way to look at life and a way to let go.

Letting go when you're used to trying to control everything around you is a difficult prospect but for the sake of your long term health it is worthwhile.

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