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Stress and Anxiety
In the fast-paced and goal-oriented world that we are living in, stress is inevitable. The pressures to achieve the different goals, whether in professional or personal life are difficult to handle. However, stress is difficult to define and, in most cases, is identified based on the triggers and stressors that affect people in everyday life. The main problem with stress is that we are not adequately equipped to handle the pressures that cause stress in our lives. Statistics on the prevalence of stress in the United States show that one in every eight Americans suffers some form of anxiety disorder. This number considers all people aged 18-54 years and translates to 19 million people (Muirhead 7). There are different forms and degrees of stress and anxiety, and they both can be either mental or physical. Stress can originate from any activity or event that causes frustration, anger, or nervousness. Anxiety, on the other hand, is a feeling of worry or unease caused by different events or situations in a person’s life.
Causes and consequences
Stress is a normal part of the human psychology and is a factor ensuring the performance of tasks when experienced in low levels. Not all people are affected by stress in a similar way. In many cases, stress depends on the level of stress experienced by the individual. Stress is the reaction to a normal threat to a person, either physically or psychologically. Anxiety is caused by worry, because the individual is unsure of the outcome of an event. Because of this distinction, stress is a long-term condition and can even last years in an individual. Anxiety is a short-term form of stress and results in stress if the stressor is left unattended. Stress and anxiety have many symptoms that differ from person to person. Stress results in both mental and physical complications for the individual, thus the need to deal with it immediately. Life situations are not the only causes of stress and anxiety since there are other factors that influence the occurrence of stress and anxiety. People that suffer from anxiety are also prone to panic attacks that can disrupt their lives, thus the need to recognize the consequences and symptoms of anxiety before the situation deteriorates (Stinson 21).
Stress and anxiety can also be caused by aggression in the individual’s daily activities. Aggression can result from the workplace and may result from hostility from the colleagues or superiors. These situations cause the individual to be constantly worried thus developing anxiety and stress if left unchecked for a long time. Other causes of stress are relationship breakups, moving to a new place or having children. Stress is also caused by sadness resulting from injury to a person close to him or her. Some medication is also known to cause stress or worsen the symptoms. These medications include asthma drugs, some dieting pills, thyroid drugs, and cold remedies (University of Maryland Medical Center par. 7).
Stress and anxiety has different symptoms, which range from cognitive, emotional, physical, and behavioral. The cognitive symptoms of stress and anxiety include memory problems and inability to concentrate on tasks. This results in poor judgment, constant worrying, anxious thoughts, and a tendency of the individual to be pessimistic about issues and situations (Stinson 23). Stress also influences the individual emotionally. The emotional effects of stress and anxiety are moodiness and irritability, and a constant state of agitation. An individual suffering from stress and depression also feels isolated and overwhelmed by events and situations. Depression and general unhappiness are also common when an individual is stressed or anxious.
The physical manifestations of stress and depression are general pains and aches. It also affects respiration by causing rapid heartbeat and chest pains. Stress also causes nausea and dizziness and may cause frequent colds accompanied by loss of sex drive and constipation or diarrhea. The behavioral symptoms associated with stress and anxiety include poor eating and sleeping habits. These conditions also cause nervous habits such as fidgeting and use of drugs such as alcohol and cigarettes in order to relax. Stress is also associated with procrastination or neglecting responsibilities, as well as isolation from other people in the community (Stinson 24).
Health risks associated with stress
Stress and anxiety result in health complications because the individual’s normal body functioning is disrupted. Stress results in poor eating and sleeping habits thus may cause poor fitness because of the lack of relaxation. Poor eating habits resulting from stress are also likely to cause weight gain in the individual; thus, exposing them to the risks of high cholesterol levels. The feeling of constant worry or dread is also a likely cause the distress in the individual and result in insomnia and paranoia, which result in lack of relaxation. This causes tension and restlessness, which results in heart pounding and respiratory discomfort. In the end, stress results in high blood pressure and may result in heart diseases.
Stress causes lose of attention towards health status or well-being. This may result in unhealthy eating, which is likely to cause weight gain and obesity. During stressful situations, the body releases different hormones that affect respiration and other important bodily functions. These hormones have a significant negative effect on the immune and cardiovascular systems. Therefore, stress predisposes an individual to infections and conditions like diabetes. Stress also predisposes to depression due to the constant triggering of the stress response. Another major risk associated with stress is the increased risk of heart attacks and strokes (Fink 318).
Stress is any pressure that the body is exposed to in the course of the normal functioning. Loosely applied, stress can explain any situation that causes anger, frustration, or anxiety in the individual. In the event of stress, the body reacts in a similar way psychologically causing a fight or flight response. The stress trigger causes the body to prepare in order to deal with the stressing situation immediately. This is achieved through the release of stress hormones in the blood stream (Carlson, Eisenstat and Diane 572). The brain sends signals to the adrenal glands, which are responsible for the production of stress hormones. The adrenal glands secrete epinephrine and norepinephrine hormones. These are the primary stress hormones and they cause the muscles to tense for action. Heart rate, blood pressure and breathing increase in order to provide enough blood and oxygen for the muscle cells. Stress hormones, such as adrenaline, also trigger the production of insulin, which breaks the stored energy in the body. The human body stores carbohydrates in the form of glycogen, insulin breaks down the stored glycogen into glucose in order to make it available for the muscles in their reaction to the immediate threat. This results in depletion of the body’s storage of energy and is the likely the cause of poor eating habits in people who are stressed. The increased levels of these stress hormones in the body and the state of constant excitation that they cause results in exhaustion. This state is responsible for the poor sleeping habits experienced by people suffering from stress (Bourne 348).
What nutrition has to do with stress?
Although stress is caused by many factors that are outside the control of the individual, nutrition is also a possible cause of stress. Nutrition in terms of what we eat and how we eat is important in reducing the occurrence of stress. Meat is one such cause of increased stress in individuals. These hormones stress the animals such as pigs and steers during the slaughtering, and some even die of heart attacks during the slaughtering. Although the evidence is not conclusive, many researchers believe that these hormones have a negative effect on the meat consumers. The hormone diethylstilbestrol (DES) has captured the attention of doctors because it is cited as a likely cause of breast cancer and fibroids (Bourne 348).
Nutrition also concerns the way people eat. Some of the issues about the way people eat that can cause stress is the lack of adequate time to eat. This results in hurried eating, which then results in poor chewing and digestion of food. The food, therefore, requires more energy to digest, thus stressing the digestive system. Overeating and drinking too much fluid with the meal also stresses the digestive system, since digestive enzymes have to be released in larger quantities in order to properly digest the food and assimilate it in the correct way.
Poor nutrition through eating of insufficient amounts of necessary food results in malnourishment. This stresses the body, because it has to function at a higher capacity in order to cover for the deficit. Poor nutrition may also result in indigestion and cramping, especially excessive consumption of refined foods low in fiber. Nutrition is also a crucial element in increasing the resilience of individuals towards stress. Having a balanced diet puts the body’s immune system at a better position to handle stress and increases the regulatory capacity of the body to the stress hormones (Johnson 351).
How your body can relax to avoid these consequences
The consequences of stress can be avoided by incorporating health promotion goals and coping strategies in the individual’s lifestyle. Some of the coping strategies that an individual can use are adopting a positive outlook towards life and work. This will be beneficial in reducing the constant worrying that result in stress. Stress and anxiety cause an individual to worry about the outcomes of events and have a pessimistic outlook. Changing the outlook can enable an individual to relax because they are confident that events will turn out well for them.
Social support from friends and family is also essential in reducing stress. Individuals that have a close relationship with families and friends have an opportunity to share the issues that are stressing them and have other people provide possible solutions that they can incorporate in their lives. Maintaining control over the stressful situation also enables the individual to relax. This is because the individual can control the outcomes of events thus having control over the stress trigger provides peace of mind.
Relaxation techniques are also beneficial for reducing stress. Some of the relaxation techniques used in controlling stress are the progressive muscle relaxation and relaxation using guided imagery. Relaxation training produces a response that counters the stress response. Relaxation training reduces the activity of the nervous system thus interrupting the psychological effects and symptoms of stress (Brunner, Smeltzer and Bare 825). Proper eating habits and eating a balanced diet can be beneficial for the body by ensuring that the required nutrients are available. This will aid the body in relaxing thus improving the overall well being of the individual.