Stress is a natural physical and mental reaction to life experiences. A situation that may cause you to stress is a big test coming up or a job interview. No matter what is happening next, we tend to overthink to the point we start to stress and not feel so well.
Let’s discuss the difference between good stress and bad stress. Good stress is adrenaline and bad stress is cortisol. Good stress tells your body to invest a lot of energy right now because you have a good opportunity to meet your needs. For example, a new job you start tomorrow will open the door for new opportunities and you are ready to take on this new journey. Bad stress tells your body that you have failed to meet your needs so you better try something else. An example of this is “I won’t do well at this new job, why am I even going to start at that place.”
How your body reacts to stress? Chronic Stress can cause a variety of symptoms such as irritability, anxiety, depression, headaches, and insomnia. Now I will not give you all the details I learned in psychology, because I do not want to bore you lol, but I will share examples.
Stress can intensify tension headaches. You know that strong pain you get while driving?, it happens because you are in a stressful thought or situation in your life and you just can not stop thinking about it.
Stress can cause heart burn. It can increase the production of stomach acid, which could make heartburn worse. Rapid breathing happens when you are stressed, the muscles that help your breath tense up, which can leave you short of breath.
Stress causes the rush of hormones, rapid breathing, and an increased heart rate, it can also upset your digestive system. You are more likely to have heartburn or acid reflux thanks to an increase in stomach acid. Stress can also affect the way food moves through your body, leading to diarrhea or constipation. You might also experience nausea, vomiting, or a stomachache.
Stress affects your sex drive, and your reproductive system. Stress is exhausting for both the body and mind. It’s not unusual to lose your desire when you’re under constant stress. If stress continues for a long time, a man’s testosterone levels can begin to drop which can interfere with sperm production and cause erectile dysfunction or impotence. Chronic stress may also increase risk of infection for male reproductive organs like the prostate and testicles. For women, stress can affect your menstrual cycle. It can lead to irregular, heavier, or more painful periods. Chronic stress can also magnify the physical symptoms of menopause.
Lastly, stress can affect your immune system by stimulating it, which can be a plus for immediate situations. This stimulation can help you avoid infections and heal wounds. But over time, stress hormones will weaken your immune system. People under chronic stress are at higher risk to viral illnesses like the flu, the common cold, as well as other infections. Stress can also increase the time it takes you to recover from an illness or injury.
In my next article I will cover stress management. These tips and information will help you manage stress. Stress management was one of my favorite topics in group therapy. When I was a Recovery Counselor, I use to teach people how to manage stress mentally and physically. Stay tuned.