Physical Impact of Stress

Prolonged or negative stressful events, such as the continuing concern about terrorism, can take an especially heavy toll on your physical well being. According to the Genesee County Health Department, being aware of your body's physical signals when under stress and knowing how to deal with stress in a positive way will prevent you from developing physical symptoms, such as headaches, stomach problems and indigestion.

Stress affects the body in a variety of ways. Your body is able to regulate itself in extreme stress, such as fear. It will experience many different physical reactions, ranging from increased adrenaline and blood pressure to dilated pupils. But, such physical reactions can actually be harmful if you keep yourself in a state of stress for too many hours each day.

You may experience certain symptoms if you are under extreme anxiety and stress. These include: back pain; muscle tension; headaches; hand tremors; diarrhea; constipation; pounding heart; chest pains; sweaty, cold hands; shortness of breath; indigestion or gas pains; burping; a burning sensation in the chest; feeling faint and dizzy; a lingering head cold; ringing in the ears; teeth grinding; hives or skin rashes; loss of appetite; nausea; vomiting and stomach pain. These symptoms may also relate to a physical disorder. If the symptoms appear suddenly, are severe or persist, see your health care provider.

Too much stress can affect your immune system, weakening it and making you more susceptible to colds, coughs and infections, as well as arthritis flare-ups. Extreme and prolonged stress can also destroy the immunological balance of friendly and unfriendly organisms that co-exist in the digestive and urinary tracts, leading to an infection and an overgrowth of harmful bacteria.

There are a number of things you can do to reduce stress. Take time out for yourself, focus on personal strengths, know your limitations, and ask for help when you feel overwhelmed with school, work, or household chores.

Take time to stop and focus on what it is that overwhelms you and causes stress. If you can analyze what makes you feel stressed, you may be able to pinpoint a particular problem and be able to deal with the stress more effectively.

Physical and emotional changes that happen in your life such as illness and environmental factors such as extreme heat, cold, altitude and toxins cause stress. Pushing your body too hard at work or at play depletes your body of the energy it needs to restore itself and can result in stress.

The Genesee County Health Department advises that while no one can completely avoid stressful situations, it is possible to influence how these situations affect you. You can learn how to effectively manage your stress.

Most likely, you will not need medication or therapy to relieve the physical symptoms of stress. Instead, after you recognize what is causing you to feel stressed, take a few minutes each day and try one or more of these stress-relieving techniques:

  • deep breathing
  • relaxation exercises
  • tightening and then loosening muscles
  • physical activity

When you begin to feel overwhelmed, take time out for yourself. Physical activity, such as walking, dancing and swimming will also help reduce stress and tension. Don't forget to follow a healthy eating plan, and get eight hours of sleep every night.