Physiological Effects of stress and stress symptoms – a natural and vital aspect of life that allows you to stay motivated and kick-start your goals. However, if stress spirals out of control, it will probably end up going against you. That said, stress can be your companion if you keep things under control. However, it can turn the tables quickly if it gets to your nerves.
So the question is, how do you know if the stress is good or not? Let’s find out!
What is Stress?
The way your body responds to any form of danger or threat is stress, whether they are imaginary or real. When you detect danger, your body’s defenses go into overdrive quickly, the automatic process usually known as a stress response or fight-or-flight reaction.
Stress usually occurs when the sense of homeostasis is upset, and the body relies on internal resources to keep up with the balance. But, if it escalates up to the point where the internal resources run out, and our mind and body lose the ability to cope – that’s when we get to the psychological and physiological tripping point known as stress overload.
What is Stress Overload?
Stress overload usually happens when our bodies react cognitively, emotionally, and physically to a stimuli/change that requires action. It refers to the sensations when we believe that the responsibilities are too much to handle.
Consider the following scenario that helps understand better what stress overload is:
For instance, you are given a task that is not according to your abilities and skills. Now, you may develop negative feelings about that particular task since you lack the required knowledge. In such a case, you won’t be able to give your best, and the output will differ from the expected one because you did it under pressure.
However, not everyone perceives stress overload the same way. That is, what’s overwhelming for you might not be overwhelming for others.
For instance, in the above example, the task wasn’t given to the right candidate; otherwise, it wouldn’t have been hard for someone that had the required skills.
With that, stress overload isn’t only limited to the workplace but, you will experience it in all spheres of life, from relationships to finances to self-development.
Stress has the potential to disrupt every part of your life that includes emotions, actions, cognitive abilities, and physical health. No part of your body is immune to stress, and it affects you differently. You don’t realize how much it’s affecting you until it’s too late. Hence, it’s critical to recognize the stress symptoms and the Physiological Effects of stress overload.
#1 Cognitive Stress Symptoms
The cognitive stress symptom includes the following stress symptoms:
- Inability to concentrate.
- Poor judgment.
- Worrying a lot.
- Seeing the negative aspects only.
- Keep forgetting things (i.e., a form of memory loss).
#2 Behavioral Stress Symptoms
Following are the behavioral stress symptoms:
- Procrastination and neglecting responsibilities.
- Appetite changes; either eating excessively or not eating at all.
- Increase in consumption of alcohol or drugs.
- Nervous habits such as fidgeting and nail-biting.
#3 Physical Stress Symptoms
Physical stress symptoms include:
- Difficulty in swallowing and a dry mouth.
- Feeling low.
- Rapid heart rate and pain in the chest.
- Loss of sex drive.
- Sweaty or cold feet and hands.
- Sleeping too much or too little.
- Muscle tension and pain.
- Frequent infections and colds.
#4 Emotional Stress Symptoms
Emotional stress symptoms include:
- Agitation, irritability, and moodiness.
- Avoiding people or preferring loneliness.
- Not feeling good about yourself (poor self-esteem), isolation, and worthless.
- Feeling overwhelmed as if you have lost control or need to reclaim it.
- Unable to relax your mind.
Physiological Effects of Stress on Your Body
How does stress affect the body – intrigued? Stress affects nearly all of your body’s systems. It weakens your immune, reproductive, and digestive systems. Stress overload can even cause brain rewiring, making you more vulnerable to anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. Following are some of the long-term effects of stress on the body.
#1 Immune System
Did you know stress boosts immunity? Yes, stress not only helps in wound healing but prevents infectious diseases. However, in the long run, stress hormones weaken our immune system. People experiencing overstress are more likely to develop viral infections such as cold, flu, and other infectious diseases. In fact, overstress can also prolong the time you take to heal from an injury and illness.
#2 Digestive System
Our liver tends to produce more sugar (glucose) under stress that boosts the energy level of the body. If you are under too much stress, the body will not be able to cope with that excess amount of glucose. Overstress can raise your chances of getting type 2 diabetes.
Hormonal surge, fast heartbeat, irregular and quick breathing all contribute to digestion issues. However, stress doesn’t cause stomach ulcers directly, which are normally caused by helicobacter pylori, yet it raises the chances of developing ulcers or making them worse.
Also, stress alters the way food passes through your digestive system that leads to stomach problems such as constipation and diarrhea.
#3 Muscular System
Under stress, the muscles contract to protect themselves from injury. They usually release after you go into rest mode, but if you are frequently feeling overwhelmed, your muscles may never get the opportunity to relax. Some of the symptoms of tense muscles include headache, general body pain, and pain in the shoulders and back. Ultimately, it will lead to an unhealthy pattern where you turn to painkillers and quit exercise.
#4 Central Nervous System
The fight-or-flight action is normally controlled by the CNS (central nervous system). Hypothalamus is a region in the brain that stimulates the adrenal glands to produce stress chemicals known as cortisol and adrenaline. Stress hormones speed up the heartbeat and send blood to different parts of the body where it is needed the most, like the heart, muscles, etc.
Hypothalamus signals the system to go back to its usual state once the fear phase has gone. However, the action won’t stop if the stressors persist and the nervous system will not go back to its normal state.
Appetite changes, drinking or drug abuse, and social disengagement are all behaviors that are influenced by overstress.
#5 Reproductive System
Losing sexual desire isn’t uncommon under constant stress; it’s exhausting for both the mind and the body. At times, stress may cause men to create more testosterone (a male hormone), but this impact is temporary Physiological Effects.
However, overstress may end up dropping the level of testosterone. This will further disrupt the production of sperm and may cause impotence and erectile dysfunction. Overstress increases the chances of developing infectious diseases in the reproductive organs (prostate and testes) in males.
Furthermore, stress disrupts the menstrual cycle in women. It can cause periods to become irregular, heavier, or more uncomfortable. Moreover, overstress ends up magnifying the symptoms of menopause.
#6 Cardiovascular and Respiratory System
Stress influences both the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. You tend to breathe quicker during a flight response to quickly transfer oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. It can make breathing considerably more difficult if you have respiratory problems such as asthma.
Your heart tends to beat faster under stress, and it stimulates the contraction of blood vessels, which further allows the oxygen to pass through your muscles and enhances your strength to perform. However, on the other side, it causes hypertension (high blood pressure).
Ultimately, chances of suffering a stroke or heart attack increase when the blood pressure rises.
Stress, no doubt, helps us to overcome obstacles. It’s what keeps us striving hard to achieve our life goals. However, beyond a certain limit, it ceases to be beneficial and easily creeps up on you that has both physiological and Physiological Effects of stress on your wellbeing.
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