How Stress Affects the Mind, Body and Behavior

Young girl worried or stressed about many things.

Do I dare ask the question — what has you stressed? For the purpose of this blog and the time (mere seconds) you have to spare, these are some of the leading stress conducers that come to mind. Feel free to toss in your favorites.

  • Work (Deadlines, bosses, long commutes, little pay)
  • School (Homework, tests, student loans, after-school events)
  • Bills (House, daycare, utilities, gardeners, cable service, etc.)
  • Family (Where are the kids? Is it time to have kids? Summer vacation or not?)
  • Health (Is there a treatment for chronic nerve pain?)

Did anything jump out at you? Perhaps, a reminder that your phone bill is due soon? If anything, you were probably able to think of a few more stress related topics, or like 20!

When it comes to stress, no one is immune. Not even our cats and dogs at home. They too experience the pain, headaches and turmoil that come with stress. Whether we’re stuck in traffic, on deadline at work or waiting for results from our doctor, stress can affect our bodies, minds and behavior.

Did You Know?

About 70% of doctor visits and 80% of serious illnesses may be exacerbated or linked to stress.

Two Types of Stress

There are two kinds of stress — the good and the bad. It might surprise you to learn that stress can play a positive role when it comes to specific situations. Have you ever noticed how a job interview may inspire you to prepare harder? Or a promotion riding on a certain presentation at work keeps you at the office longer?

This type of stress is motivated by your “flight or fight” response. Our bodies are trained to either run from a dangerous situation or take action to defeat it. In the case of a job interview, we are ready to give it our all as the stakes are high. However, if stress becomes chronic, our health overtime will succumb to its detrimental side effects.

Here are the many ways stress make it difficult to perform routine tasks.

  • Insomnia
  • Neck, Back and Muscle Pain
  • Severe Headaches
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Stomach Complications (constipation, diarrhea)
  • Gain and Lose Weight
  • Depression, Anxiety or Mood Swings
  • Reduce Productivity
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Tired, Weak and Fatigue

Individuals experiencing severe stress are more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcers, certain cancers and cardiovascular disease. Stress can take a heavy toll on those suffering with nerve pain as it can escalate discomfort levels.

The sad reality is it’s stressful to have stress. Literally! From our heads to our toes there’s nothing off limits. Now, before you stress yourself out about the side effects, let’s consider how to tame the beast.

First, recognize the signs. If you are experiencing any one of the signs listed above, please see your physician. It’s important to learn how to manage your stress early on. Maintain regular exercise, a healthy diet and enjoy a relaxing activity like painting or writing.

The next time you have the Monday blues when it’s not Monday, don’t stress. Give yourself the time to regroup and rethink how you approach work, school or other daily activities with a more positive attitude. If all else fails, remember to breathe and ask for help.

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