What causes stress?
All of us experience stress on an almost daily basis, whether on the job or in our personal lives – what causes stress, and how can we learn to cope with stressful situations more effectively? Stress is the body’s reaction to threats – when we are faced with more than we are used to dealing with, our body reacts as though we were in physical danger. The heart beats faster and increases the blood flow to the large muscle groups; large levels of adrenaline are released, providing a burst of energy and blocking the sensation of pain. This reaction can be helpful in certain situations, but when stress is constant and ongoing, it can have a serious negative effect. Under ordinary circumstances, once the stressful event is over, the nervous system is designed to calm itself and return to its normal state; however, with ongoing stress, the body is not able to recover and remains in a constant state of alert. Eventually, this can cause impaired immune system function, heart disease, and emotional disorders such as anxiety and depression.
In order to prevent long-term health effects, it is necessary to pinpoint the cause of stress. Sometimes this can be quite clear: the death of a loved one, a serious illness, the loss of a job, or a serious accident can all cause a great deal of stress. However, there are less obvious causes, as well. Getting married, having a new baby, starting a new job, or moving to a new city can cause a stress reaction in the body; even day-to-day stress from a face-paced lifestyle can add up and take a toll on your health.
How can I control the causes of stress in my life? While it is not always possible to eliminate stress completely from your life, you can take steps to improve your ability to cope with it. By getting plenty of exercise, eating right, and sticking to a regular sleep schedule, you will keep your mind and body healthy enough to overcome the effects of stress.
Can causes stress affect my emotional health? When the body is unable to return to its normal state due to prolonged stress, the stress hormones can have a huge effect on the emotions. High levels of the stress hormone cortisol deplete certain important neurotransmitters (chemical messengers of the brain), leading to anxiety, depression, and other stress-related emotional disorders.
What is the best way to treat stress? Eliminating the major sources of stress would be the ideal solution, but this is not always possible. To improve your ability to cope, make time to participate in a relaxing activity you enjoy. Maintaining good social relationships is also helpful in counteracting what causes stress.
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