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Stress: Causes and Effects

Stress is a physical and emotional response to overwhelming responsibilities, events, and changes. Anything that brings on feelings of stress is called a stressor. Today, we often face many stressors. Read on to find out how stress affects you and how you can gain control.

Your Body’s Response to Stress

When you’re faced with stress, certain hormones (chemicals in your body) are released. These hormones trigger many changes in your body. For instance, your:

  • Heart may pound.

  • Blood pressure may rise.

  • Stomach may become tense.

  • Muscles may tighten.

Things that May Cause You Stress

Stressors may include the following:

  • Adapting to constant, rapid change.

  • Worries about your finances and the economy.

  • Handling a major life event, such as changing jobs or moving to a new home. Even positive life changes, such as getting married or the birth of a child, often cause stress. More than one of these events may happen at the same time. For instance, we may have to deal with a family illness while changing jobs.

  • Juggling many roles and responsibilities. Many people have more than one role that comes with many responsibilities, including that of spouse or life partner, parent, friend, employee, and caregiver for aging parents.

  • Going from one stressful situation to the next without taking time to relax.

  • Being overwhelmed by the technology designed to help us. Keeping up with our cell phone messages, e-mails, and text messages can be hard to do. Computers and other technology make doing things faster, so we’re expected to get more done in the same amount of time.

The Long-Term Effects of Stress

If you’re often under stress, you need to learn to manage it well. Stress can affect your well-being. Over time, you may show some of the symptoms listed below.

  • Physical effects: You may have frequent colds or flu, headaches, or trouble sleeping. Your muscles may be tense. You may develop skin problems. And you may have trouble with digestion.

  • Mental effects: You may have trouble concentrating or remembering. It may be hard to learn new things. And you may have frequent negative thoughts. 

  • Emotional effects: You may feel anxious, depressed, angry, or irritable. You may feel helpless or a lack of purpose. You may also develop relationship troubles.

  • Behavioral effects: Too much stress may lead you to eat poorly or drive recklessly. You may abuse alcohol or drugs. You may have more accidents and slip-ups. And you may be more aggressive or irritable toward others.

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 5/15/2011
Copyright © The StayWell Company, LLC. except where otherwise noted.
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