Characteristics of stress

This article was endorsed by Néstor Zumaya Cárdenas - M.D & Medical Surgeon from the National Autonomous University of Mexico

What is stress?

Stress is a personal situation characterized by tension or lack of peace due to possible external threat or pressure either real or imagined. A degree of stress is normal and necessary to the demands of the outside world or changes of people organism.

Where does the word stress come from and what does it mean?

Stress is a term that comes from the English word “stress”, which means “tension”.

Function of stress

Stress is said to help an individual mature and grow as a person, but when this stress exceeds the individual’s ability to adapt, a state of restlessness occurs that prevents him from feeling good and is responsible for many of his illnesses.

What is post traumatic stress?

walk trees
A quiet walk among trees in a place where there are not many people is a good way to avoid stress.

Within stress, one of the strongest types of stress is called post-traumatic stress, which is the one that a person suffers after having lived through a very extreme situation, such as, for example, the person who has been the victim of an accident, a kidnapping, rape, flood, earthquake, fire, or getting lost in the mountains. Especially this type of stress requires psychiatric and psychological attention from professionals to overcome it.

Physical origin of stress

Stress is a bodily response to certain situations or thoughts in life and occurs as a consequence of a series of changes in the nervous and hormonal system.

These changes are produced by an increased production of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol in the blood by the adrenal glands at the signals sent by the hypothalamus.

Biological origin of stress

Stress is an adaptation of people and animals to the environment. Stress is necessary to successfully face the dangers posed by the world around us. For example, an animal becomes stressed at the danger of being hunted.

Stress puts the body on alert so that it can escape from another animal or person trying to hunt it down. at the same time, the hunter is also in a degree of stress to be able to see and hunt the prey better.

Why do we get stressed?

boat ride Bruges
Group of tourists relaxing with a boat ride through the city of Bruges

In the same way, in the face of an accident, the body reacts quickly, the muscles become more tense, the vision sharpens, the heart beats faster. The objective of all these changes is to be able to dodge the accident and, in case it cannot be dodged, to have the body prepared to suffer the least damage possible.

Without reaching such a critical situation, a certain degree of stress is necessary to face daily problems. This necessary degree of stress allows us, for example, to perform at work, endure the crowding of the subway, look at both sides of the street when we cross a crosswalk, win a race, pass an exam, etc.

So is stress good?

Stress is good when you respond to an emergency situation that has to be resolved. For example, it is important for a person to feel “reasonable stress” before a job interview.

This state of emotional tension will allow you to be more mentally attentive to answering questions. An athlete who wants to win a race must experience some degree of mental and physical stress in order to meet his challenge.

When is stress harmful?

Stress stops being good when you don’t respond to these emergency situations. It is what is scientifically known as “emotional tension” and, in colloquial language, as “having nerves”.

It is a type of continuous and latent stress (chronic stress) that, apparently, is not noticed, although it is present. Under these circumstances, the nervous system is permanently in tension, which causes a hormonal supply of adrenaline to the blood. This type of stress is very bad because it depletes the body and produces numerous abnormalities.

Effects of stress at work

Stress at work is a very clear example of the detrimental effect it has on biology. As explained previously, stress increases the body’s flight mechanism, raising blood sugar and preparing the body to “run away.”

Instead, people with stressful jobs often sit around a long time or have no mood for anything other than lying on the couch. Sitting still, without exercising, is a totally unnatural metabolic state. The natural thing would be to “burn adrenaline” and compensate for stress with exercise, to lower blood sugar levels. For this reason, the consequences of stress are further aggravated by sedentary lifestyle.

Consequences of stress

A permanent state of emotional tension is responsible, for example, for the appearance of the following diseases or can worsen them:

  • Metabolic changes due to stress
  • High sugar
  • Increased free radicals
  • Weakened defenses
  • Increased infections
  • Premature aging
  • Cancer
  • Lack of appetite
  • Thinness
  • Excessive appetite
  • Craving for sweet
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes

Problems in the circulatory system due to stress

  • Hypertension
  • Cholesterol
  • Bad circulation
  • Tachycardia
  • Heart attack

Problems in the digestive system due to stress

  • Heartburn
  • Gastric ulcer
  • Irritable colon
  • Persistent diarrhea
  • Constipation

Problems in the respiratory system due to stress

  • Increased respiratory diseases (bronchitis, cold, asthma, etc.)

Problems in the excretory system due to stress

  • Urinary incontinence
  • Cystitis
  • Nephritis

Nervous system problems related to stress

Skin and hair problems caused by stress

Sexual stress problems

How do you physically notice stress?

Stress, in an emergency situation, manifests itself with a series of physical and mental reactions produced by the aforementioned hormones.

Among the most important we have the following:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Fast metabolism

Physiological symptoms of stress

All this manages to increase the blood supply to certain parts of the body, especially to the muscles so that they can keep themselves prepared for a possible mishap.

The vision is accentuated with the dilation of the pupils of the eyes.

The metabolism is accelerated by the incorporation of a greater quantity of glucose in the blood, when the liver releases its stored reserves.

This increased metabolism leads to increased sweating. The sweat will serve to refresh the accelerated body.

How do you know that a person has emotional stress?

The response to stress varies greatly and depends on personal ability.

The main symptoms of continuous and permanent stress or what is known as emotional stress are the following:

  • Nervousness
  • Study and concentration problems
  • Personal anguish
  • Headache
  • Disinterest in everything
  • Loss of mood
  • Social isolation
  • Among others

Causes of stress

What is currently stressing us? There are many personal problems that can be stressors.

Some causes of stress are, for example:

  • Death of a family member or loved one
  • Love disappointments
  • Divorces
  • Feeling of lack of affection
  • Feeling harassed, violated, or physically assaulted
  • Loss of work
  • Not feeling valued at work
  • Working too hard without a break
  • Do many activities at once
  • Not getting enough sleep
  • Not being satisfied with what you have
  • Being too ambitious in life
  • Living in too noisy environment
  • Living or working in disorganized places
  • Places with too many people
  • Relationships with people we don’t like
  • Personal ruin
  • Separation
  • Retirement
  • Harassment at work
  • Among others

Diagnosis and treatment of stress

When the stress situation makes it impossible for the individual to lead a normal life, a visit to the specialist is required to assess what their real stress state is and what more appropriate therapy to follow, based on an evaluation of the medical history. It is recommended to go to a health professional, such as a clinical psychologist or doctor.

punto rojo More information about stress.

Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

13 July, 2020

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