Stress is usually thought of as a particular response of the body to threatening external events. Surprisingly, perhaps, The body’s natural reaction to any adverse condition is called stress. When a demand whether pleasant or unpleasant disturbs the homeostasis of the body, stress triggers in the body. The stressful effect of accidents or bereavements, or of simply trying to keep up with the many tasks you have to accomplish during the day, are obvious. But the physiological responses to happy events, such as getting married, having a baby, receiving an increase in salary, or falling in love, are strikingly similar to those brought about unhappy events.
Body Reactions to Stress
Throughout life, the component parts of the body strive to work together in efficient harmony, reacting constantly to the demands made on them from within and without. Many of these demands pose a threat to the body. The body’s response, which is both universal and primitive, is to prepare itself for fight or flight. First, in a reflex action, the muscles become tense. After this, a whole series of reactions comes into operation, as described below.
The Hypothalamus at the base of the brain becomes activated and stimulates the pituitary gland to release hormones. These stimulate the adrenal glands above the kidneys to produce other hormones, which have wide-ranging effects on the body. Some body activities are increased, others decreased.
Muscles might ache; pain might also result from the slow mobilization of lactic acid.
The liver discharges sugars into the blood to provide muscles with extra energy. It might also produce and release excess amounts of cholesterol.
Sweat production is increased, ready to cool down a body overheated by the exertion of fight or flight.
The salivary glands stop secreting saliva, making the mouth feel dry.
Breathing rate speeds up to supply more oxygen to the muscles.
Heart rate increases to supply more blood to the muscles.
Blood pressure rises.
Adrenal glands release adrenaline.
Kidneys work less efficiently because their blood supply is reduced.
Digestion ceases to slow.
Defecation and urination are prevented by the tightening of muscles. Alternatively, diarrhea or uncontrolled urination might occur.
The immune system is impaired, making a person susceptible to disease or to an allergic reaction.
When immediate danger passes, the gearing up process is reversed. And it seems that the act of fighting or running away actually helps the reversal process. In your everyday life, however, you encounter many threatening situations in which you cannot fight or flee.
Mental Symptoms of Stress
• Suffering from a phobia or obsession?
• Decreasing self-confidence and self-esteem?
• Do you suffer from guilt conscious?
• Do you fear about future too much?
• Do you think you can’t remember things and not able to focus on a work?
• Do you always think of next task before finishing the earlier properly?
• Do you always feel some sort of irritation or fury?
• Do you always feel isolated and lonely?
• Do you sleep more often than not to avoid tasks?
• Do you find it difficult to zero to one decision?
Physical Symptoms of Stress
Do you recognize two or more of the following in yourself or someone close to you? If so, the problem needs to be tackled immediately.
• Have you eating habit changes regularly?
• Do you find difficulty in sleeping?
• Are you suffering from frequent digestive problems?
• Have you developed any nervous problems?
• Is your blood pressure increased recently?
• Are you suffering from headache, cramps and muscle pain?
• Are you impulsive?
• Do you think your sexual performance decrease or change in libido?
• Do you smoke or drink frequently out of nervousness or tension?
Adaptation and Exhaustion in Stress
When the body is subjected to stress over a long period, it remains in a prolonged state of preparedness for fight or flight. Blood pressure is permanently raised, continuing muscular tension leads to digestive problems and aches and pains, and the body’s resistance to disease remains suppressed.
Unless action is taken to alter either the stress factor or the body’s reaction to them, the consequence will eventually be exhausted. How long it takes before this exhaustion occurs depends on the person’s physical constitution, which determined partly by heredity and partly by healthy habits such as diet and exercise; on personality and attitudes; and on social relationships. When the body is no longer able to cope, a major physical or mental breakdown results.