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Stress - today we are constantly exposed to it. Sometimes it is mobilizing, but when the state of tension lasts for a long time, it adversely affects our he alth. The effects of chronic stress include weakening of the immune system, exacerbation of the symptoms of many autoimmune diseases, diabetes. What are the causes and effects of stress, and how to overcome it?

What is stress and where does it come from?

Stress- we feel its effects almost everyone. Although the progress of civilization has made us live longer and more comfortable, we also pay dearly for it.

We feel more and more lonely, lost. We are busy, consumed with competition, weighed down with an excess of duties at work. The huge amount of stressors that surround us makes it impossible to escape from them.

Meanwhile, even goodstress , if it lasts too long or occurs too often, can be harmful. Therefore, we need to capture the moment when stress begins to work against us.

Stress: causes

There can be many causes of stress. And they don't always have to be negative. We are stressed by difficult relationships with the boss or colleagues, but also by our own wedding, which is a much anticipated event.

It can be stressful to move, take a loan, change the place of residence or for a child - school, but also collect an important prize or… leave. Preparing for it: finding accommodation or a means of transport also causes stress.

There was even a stress scale created by two psychiatrists - Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe.Doctors interviewed 5,000 patients - presented them with a list of 43 events, which they called Life Change Units (LCU ).

Each of these events had a different "weight" of stress - the more stressful, the higher its weight. Patients were asked to indicate which of these 43 events occurred in their lives. The more events, especially those with high severity, the greater the likelihood that a person will become ill.

The most stressful events according to Holmes and Rahe

According to Holmes and Rahe, the most stressful events in life are (in order of the most stressful):

  • death of spouse
  • divorce
  • separation
  • jail time
  • death of a close family member
  • sustained bodily injuries,disease
  • wedding
  • dismissal
  • reconciliation with husband / wife
  • retirement

Work is one of the most common stressors

  • As many as 44% of French respondents say that the most stressful element of everyday life is commuting.
  • Every 10 Britons suffer from chronic work-related stress.
  • The most stressful jobs in the EU countries are in order: teacher, nurse, journalist and presenter, social worker, transport worker, policeman, prison guard.
  • According to a study in Sweden, heart attacks are most common among working people on Mondays.
  • The threat of losing a job is one of the main causes of stress not only in Poland, but also in Germany and Finland, where unemployment is much lower than in our country.

Stress: Symptoms

Don't ignore the first symptoms of stress. Everyone reacts to stress differently. Some have stomach problems, others have an accelerated heart rate, suffer from insomnia, and memory deterioration. The harbingers of stress may be lack of appetite or hunger, irritability or lethargy. We are alternately hot and cold, our mood deteriorates, we may have anxiety.

Such signals should not be underestimated. The more that at this stage we can still help ourselves. Let's not wait for stress to wreak havoc on the body. Scientists warn that sooner or later we will have to pay for long-term stress. And its effects may appear even after several years.

Symptoms of chronic stress

The symptoms of chronic stress are:

  • heart and circulatory system diseases,
  • headaches - also chronic,
  • back pain,
  • diabetes,
  • osteoporosis,
  • digestive problems,
  • gastric and duodenal ulcers,
  • dysregulation of the monthly cycle in women,
  • obesity
  • skin problems,
  • hair loss.

See how stress works on the body!

Stress: effects

Stress weakens the immune system

Scientists say that as much as 80% of stress-related diseases are a consequence of a weakened immune system. Because under the influence of cortisol, which is produced almost continuously in chronic stress, the number of white blood cells decreases and the body's ability to produce antibodies decreases.

That is why people who have problems at work, marriage or care for bedridden relatives more often suffer from various types of infections, both viral,as well as bacterial and mycoses, and they react worse to vaccines.

More and more studies also suggest that people under stress are more likely to develop certain types of cancer. Swedish scientists have found that stress can also increase the risk of breast cancer.

Chronic stress also often triggers or exacerbates symptoms of autoimmune diseases, e.g. Hashimoto's, Graves', rheumatoid arthritis (RA), type 1 diabetes, mucosal dryness syndrome (mouth and nose, conjunctiva, genital organs), as well as ulcerative colitis (a disease of young, active people, which may develop polyps and even bowel cancer).

Prolonged secretion of cortisol may lead to a decrease in the body's sensitivity to this hormone. Then the immune system does not pick up the signals that lead to the end of the immune reaction. The organism behaves as if it was constantly in danger, so it fights with its own tissues.

Diseases caused by stress

The list of stress-induced he alth conditions is long. It often "attacks" the body's weakest point. Heart disease and cardiovascular disease are the largest group. Doctors pay attention to the broken heart syndrome, the symptoms of which resemble a heart attack (even the ECG picture looks completely the same), although they are not.

Contrary to myocardial infarction, patients do not have narrowing or occlusion of the coronary arteries, and patients recover after a few days, while convalescence in heart attacks often takes several months.

As a result of a sudden, even 30-fold increase in the level of adrenaline in the blood due to shock, e.g. sudden death of a loved one, car accident, assault, theft or other event that causes severe stress, the flow of calcium is blocked into the cells of the heart muscle. Then, due to the lack of the mineral, they stop contracting, giving disturbing symptoms.

Stress: how to overcome it? Ways to relieve stress

For stress to stop being our enemy, you need to control it. As? It's worth getting to know yourself and what causes tension in us and how we react to it, and then reduce the area of ​​worry in your life as much as possible and change your behavior.

It will be a relief to acknowledge that we are not perfect and to develop assertiveness, that is, the ability to express feelings and thoughts. You also need to learn positive thinking and believe that using other people's help is not a reason to be ashamed.

Stress must not be allowed to accumulate. Talking to a friend, and even crying, brings yourelaxation. After a hard day, you can take a hot bath with your favorite essential oil (e.g. lavender, rosemary or lemon balm - these have relaxing properties), or go for a massage. Such treatments relax muscles, improve blood circulation and get rid of excess stress hormones - cortisol and adrenaline.

Some people relax with a book, others with music or fitness. It is important to develop your hobbies and do what we enjoy. Special relaxation techniques also bring good results.

You must do it

Ways to relieve stress: a simple relaxing exercise

Sit back or lie down, put your hands behind your head.

  • Pull down your elbows, straighten your legs to the tips of your toes, tightening your muscles.
  • Flex your stomach, hold your breath, and count to seven.
  • Exhale slowly, relaxing all muscles.
  • Feel blissfully relaxed - enjoy the inertia of your body.
  • Stretch out like a cat after a nap and yawn for a long time.
  • Say the affirmation mentally or aloud: I am full of energy, focused and calm.

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