The word ‘stress’ is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as "a state of affair involving demand on physical or mental energy". Stress is a condition or instance which can disturb the normal physiological and psychological functioning of an individual. This demand on mind-body occurs when it tries to cope with constant changes in life. A 'stress' condition seems 'relative' in nature.
Extreme stress conditions are detrimental to human health but in moderation, stress is normal and, in many cases, proves useful. Stress normally is synonymous with negative conditions. Today, with the rapid diversification of human activities, we come face to face with numerous causes of stress and the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
In a challenging situation the brain prepares the body for defensive action the fight or flight response by releasing stress hormones, namely, cortisone and adrenaline. These hormones raise the blood pressure and the body prepares to react to the situation. With a concrete defensive action (fight response) the stress hormones in the blood get used up, entailing reduced stress effects and symptoms of anxiety.
When we fail to counter a stress situation, (flight response) the hormones and chemicals remain unreleased in the blood stream for a long period. It results in stress related physical symptoms such as tense muscles, unfocused anxiety, dizziness and rapid heartbeats. We all encounter various stressors (causes of stress) in everyday life, which can accumulate, if not released. Subsequently, it compels the mind and body to be in an almost constant alarm-state in preparation to fight or flee. This state of accumulated stress can increase the risk of both acute and chronic mental illnesses and weaken the immune system.
Stress can cause headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, eating disorder, allergies, restlessness, backaches, frequent cold and fatigue to diseases such as hypertension, asthma, diabetes, heart ailments and even cancer.
Everybody- men, women, children suffer from stress. Relationship demands, chronic health problems, pressure at workplaces, traffic jams, meeting deadlines, growing-up tensions can trigger stress conditions. People react to it in their own ways. In some people, stress-induced adverse feelings and anxieties tend to persist and intensify. Learning to understand and manage stress can prevent the counter effects of stress.
Medically, it has been established that chronic symptoms of anxiety and stress can deteriorate our body's immune system. Irrespective of the nature of the causes of stress — real or superficial — our subconscious mind reacts with the same body response by releasing stress hormones equal to the degree of our fear, worry or sense of threat. It also induces increased palpitation and blood pressure in the body with mental manifestations such as anger, fear, worry or aggression. In short, stress creates anomalies in our body. When the extra chemicals in our bloodstream don't get used up or the stress situation persists, it makes our body prone to mental and physical illnesses.
Aging is a natural and gradual process, except under extreme circumstances such as stress or grief. The constant stressors or stress conditions result in a loss in neural and hormonal balance. This loss of balance will cause increased oxidative damage, accelerating aging in our body. That's because, chronic disturbances in body ultimately affect our hormone secreting glands, cell repair and collagen in our skin and connecting tissues. Immune and neural degenerative diseases prevent this otherwise inevitable process from following the normal and healthy course of events.
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