management, stress symptom, stress relief, what is stress:
Stress: We hear about the negative effects
of stress daily. Many of us believe we’re under more
stress today than our parents were 30 years ago. If you believe
this, you are correct.
Time magazine's June 6, 1983 cover story
called stress "The
Epidemic of the Eighties" and referred to it as our leading
health problem. There can be little doubt that the situation
has progressively worsened since then.
Numerous surveys confirm that adult Americans perceive they
are under much more stress than a decade or two ago.
A 1996 Prevention magazine survey found
that almost 75% feel they have "great stress" one day a week with one
out of three indicating they feel this way more than twice
a week. In the same 1983 survey only 55% said they felt under
great stress on a weekly basis. One can assume that today’s
level of perceived stress is even more impacting than it was
It has been estimated that 75 - 90 percent of all visits to
primary care physicians are for stress related problems.
Job stress is far and away the leading source of stress for
adults but stress levels have also escalated in children, teenagers,
college students, and the elderly for other reasons, including:
- increased crime,
- violence and other threats to personal safety;
- pernicious peer pressures that lead to substance abuse
and other unhealthy life style habits;
- social isolation and loneliness;
- the erosion of family and religious values and ties;
- the loss of other strong sources of social support that
are powerful stress busters;
- the more increasingly sense of loss of control.
What is stress?
Stress is a complex phenomenon. It has
been defined in many ways, but simply put, “it is the wear and tear of everyday
As we all know, some days seem more stressful
than others and some times it seems there is no letup. Daily
stress is unavoidable and if it was properly managed, it
cause too many health problems. On-going stress, however, when
not managed well, is at the root of a great many illnesses.
Common medical opinion suggests that 96% of all illness is
either a direct result of stress, or greatly aggravated by
The majority of people know what the basics of stress often
look like, but we often miss the more intricate workings of
stress and its affect on the body and mind.
Stress is a physical and psychological response to perceived
demands and pressures from without and from within.
To respond to these demands and pressures, we mobilize physical
and emotional resources (which produce stress hormones to increase
in the body).
Too frequent, extreme, or prolonged mobilization strains us
and generates distress signals. The body can convey distress
signals in a variety of ways, often in the form of symptoms
- tension headaches
- migraine headaches
- heart conditions
- and a number of other possible symptoms (many that are
listed in the Anxiety Symptoms section of this website)
Eventually, stress can lead to even more serious illness,
such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes or thyroid dysfunction.
Heart related diseases rank #1 in the top ten causes of death.
Cancer ranks #3
Diabetes ranks #7
What kinds of things can cause stress?
There are many factors that can cause stress, such as financial
pressures, relationship difficulties, career pressures, heavy
workloads, unrealistic expectations, child problems, and aging,
to name a few.
While these factors can result in stress,
it’s our perception
of these events (how we think and feel about them) that actually
causes the chemical and psychological responses that can either
help or harm the body and mind.
What are the physiological effects of stress?
Both pleasant and unpleasant stress affects the body and mind
in similar physiological ways. For example, winning a large
sum of money may result in pleasant stress that produces an
excited and happy response (when we think about the many things
that a large sum of money may bring). The physiological aspects
may include increased heart rate, blood pressure, energy, and
mental activity, to name a few. A difficult relationship breakup,
however, can also cause an increase in heart rate, blood pressure,
mental activity, and other similar biological reactions.
These physiological consequences occur because stress causes
an immediate and proportional release of stress hormones (as
well as a number of other chemicals and components) to flood
into the bloodstream whenever we sense we are being stressed
(the member's area of this website contains an in-depth description
of the biological and physiological consequences of stress).
What are the psychological effects of stress?
In addition to the many physiological consequences associated
with stress, we also pay psychological and emotional prices
when we experience unrelieved stress. For example, anxiety
and panic attack conditions, depression, Post Traumatic Stress
Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorders, drug addiction, and
alcoholism can result from, or can be aggravated by, unrelieved
Other symptoms such as persistent anger, frustration, feeling
overwhelmed, lack of motivation, fear, low mood, unhappiness,
sleep problems, difficulty thinking, short-term memory loss,
and depersonalization (feeling detached from life or feeling
that you are living in a dream-state) frequently occur when
stress is allow to build and remain high.
What are the implications of long-term stress?
Persistent unrelieved stress can negatively
affect our lives. It can even prove deadly. No longer is
stress just a “buzz” word.
It’s a vast epidemic.
What can I do to prevent the negative effects of stress
from impacting my life?
- Seek to truly understand stress, what it is, what it can
do, and how to better manage it.
- Become aware of the stress in your life.
- Take immediate action to better manage it and your health.
- Make the necessary changes in your lifestyle and approach
to life permanent.
- Make a life-long commitment to better managing stress.
The more proficient you are at managing it, the healthier
your life will be.
This is a brief overview of stress and
its implications. For more detailed information about stress
and its affects on our life, the member’s area of our
website contains a wealth of stress information including
a detailed listing of the biological and psychological aspects
associated with stress, complete descriptions of common stress
and anxiety symptoms, numerous stress management and reduction
strategies, as well as tips on how to develop your own personal
stress management program.
To see what your stress level is
Finally, help and lasting relief from panic
attacks, anxiety, fear, phobias and stress.