Stress has become a part of human life and affects all of us. But due to Covid-19, accompanied by high inflation around the world, stress in society has reached epidemic levels. It’s everywhere; some experience less, others a little more. Some stress is normal – though not good – but regular stress in life can be physically and mentally harmful.
Before we can prevent stress from entering our bodies and lives, we must understand what stress is and what its symptoms are. In the 21st century, stress has become a part of us, so recognizing its symptoms is difficult. We’re all so addicted to stress that we often don’t realize when we’re stressed until we’ve reached the limit.
Stress: what is it?
Simply put, it is our body’s reaction to a dangerous situation, real or imagined. When you’re worried or stressed, a cascade of chemical reactions is set off to protect you from danger. It is our body’s fight-or-flight survival mechanism in both real and imagined life-threatening situations. This is an instant reaction that helps us either fight the threat or run away to safety. This is how we, humans and other mammals, defend ourselves.
When we are under stress, our blood pressure rises, our muscles tense up, our heart rate increases, and we begin to breathe shallowly. Stress negatively affects our lives and health, but it has a different meaning for all of us. When our body is in a constant state of perceived threats, our internal relaxation system has no time to kick in. We are built to deal with small doses of stress, not long-term chronic stress.
What happens in our brain and body when we are stressed?
Stressful stimuli can be external or internal, but the stress response is initiated in the brain. There is a small part of the brain called the amygdala, the most primitive part of our brain, which is responsible for all the stress and anxiety in the body. Even before we notice or consciously register a threat, the amygdala picks up this hidden danger and begins to do its job – flooding our body with chemicals, cortisol and adrenaline. These chemicals increase our blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, and blood sugar levels. And blood is diverted from the intestines to the muscles so that we can fight the threat with all our strength and strength or run at the speed of the wind (the fight-or-flight response).
This is not the case in the modern world. Most threats are invisible and unrealistic, and our lives are not in danger.
Cortisol is the biggest culprit as it stops the immune system, healing, and fertility because when survival is at stake, everything else goes out the window. All our resources are focused on confronting this danger or threat and focusing on overcoming it.
What are the symptoms of stress?
Before looking for a cure for any problem, you need to know its symptoms. Stress affects our physical and mental health, as well as our emotions, behavior, and thinking abilities. However, since we all have different coping mechanisms, the symptoms vary. Check what symptoms are showing up in your body and behavior.
Easily irritated and upset
Inability to relax and calm your mind
Feelings of loneliness, bad attitude towards yourself and worthlessness
Avoidance of social situations, feeling overwhelmed
Low energy, headaches, insomnia, chest pain and indigestion
Low immunity, frequent infections and colds
Loss of sex drive
Jaw clenching and teeth grinding
Constant worry and racing thoughts
Poor concentration, poor judgment and forgetfulness
Be a pessimist (see only the negative side)
Loss of appetite or overeating
Addiction – alcohol, drugs or sex
fidgeting, nail biting and pacing
How can mindfulness help?
Mindfulness is a centuries-old practice that helps us be more present and see things with greater clarity and without judgment. When we are mindful, we can notice and recognize the symptoms of stress. The more aware we become, the better we deal with them.
Simply put, mindfulness practices reduce stress, anxiety, and even depression by making us more present.
Bhupinder Sandhu is a mindfulness coach based in London who believes in the ability of people to build a happy world together.
The opinions expressed are personal.
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