About Stress and the Health Effects of StressDefinition of stress?
Stress has become the number one malady of our time. The constant pressure associated with living in a fast-paced world has created an environment where nearly everyone feels the effects of stress.
Stress is a term used to describe the wear and tear the body experiences in reaction to everyday tensions and pressures. Change, illness, injury or career and lifestyle changes, are common causes of stress, however, it's the effects of stress, like pressure and tension, that we feel in response to the little everyday hassles—like rush hour traffic, waiting in line, and too many emails—that do the most damage.
Stress is the body and mind's response to any pressure that disrupts its normal balance. It occurs when our perception of events doesn't meet our expectations and we are unable to manage our reaction. As a response, stress expresses itself as resistance, tension, strain or frustration that throws off our physiological and psychological equilibrium, keeping us out of sync. If our equilibrium is disturbed for long, the stress can become disabling and create numerous health problems.
Stress and the effects of stress are often misunderstood. We look at outside events as the source of stress, but in fact stress is really caused by our emotional reactions to events. The stress we experience in today's world often goes unnoticed and unmanaged. Many people have simply adapted to stress in an unhealthy way, resigned to thinking it's “just the way it is”. Unfortunately, lack of stress management has created a pandemic of low-grade anxiety and depression.
Health Effects of Stress?
The effects of stress in people are seen physically, mentally and emotionally. According to the American Institute of Stress, up to 90% of all health problems are related to stress. Too much stress can contribute to and agitate many health problems including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, depression and sleep disorders. Additional studies confirm the debilitating effects of stress on our health:
- Three 10-year studies concluded that emotional stress was more predictive of death from cancer and cardiovascular disease than smoking. People who were ineffectively managing stress had a 40% higher death rate than non-stressed individuals.
- A Harvard Medical School study of 1,623 heart attack survivors found that when subjects got angry during emotional conflicts, their risk of subsequent heart attacks was more than double that of those remained calm.
- A 20-year study of over 1,700 older men conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health found that worry about social conditions, health and personal finances all significantly increased the risk of coronary disease.
- Over one-half of heart disease cases are not explained by the standard risk facts, such as high cholesterol, smoking or sedentary lifestyle.
- According to a Mayo Clinic study of individuals with heart disease, psychological stress was the strongest predictor of future cardiac events, such as cardiac death, cardiac arrest and heart attacks.
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