High-pressure jobs, bringing up children, not getting enough sleep or exercise, financial worries and personal problems all contribute to our stress levels. From premature aging to health problems, the effects of stress can damage our health in many irreversible ways.
Stress can promote disease
Some people are more prone to certain diseases, and chronic stress can give these conditions the green light. Stress has been linked to illnesses that include heart attacks, cancer, lung disease, and suicide and researchers at Johns Hopkins University have discovered that children exposed to chronic stress are more likely to develop a mental illness if they are genetically predisposed.
Stress can make it difficult to control our emotions
Some people believe stress makes them perform better, but that’s rarely true and research consistently shows the opposite. Stress usually causes a person to make more mistakes. It’s no secret that stressed people can fly off the handle. But new research reveals just how little stress is actually required for you to lose your cool and a study in 2013 found that even mild levels of stress can impair our ability to control our emotions.
Stress can damage your heart
Stress can physically damage your heart muscle because stress hormones increase your heart rate and constrict your blood vessels. This forces your heart to work harder and increases blood pressure. According to the American Institute of Stress, the incidence rate of heart attacks and sudden death increases, after major stress inducing incidents.
Stress can affect your love life
We all know that sex is a pleasurable and effective way to relieve stress. But stress can also get you out of the mood and spoil the occasion quicker than you think. Numerous studies have shown that stress especially performance anxiety can lead to impotence.
Stress can make you gain weight
Researchers at the University of Miami found that when people find themselves in stressful situations, they are likely to consume 40 percent more food than normal. We all have the tendency to comfort eat or reach for those sugary snacks at times of stress.
Stress can make you look older
Chronic stress contributes significantly to premature aging. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, discovered that stress shortens the structures on the end of chromosomes so that new cells can’t grow as quickly. This leads to the inevitable signs of aging such as wrinkles, weak muscles and poor eyesight.
Stress weakens your immune system
The connection between mind and body is often underestimated. But everyone has experienced a cold when they can least afford to. That’s because the high demands stress puts on the body make the immune system suffer.
Stress can lead to long term disability
The potential dangers created by even mild stress should not be underestimated. They can lead to long-term disability serious enough to render you unable to work. Researchers reached this conclusion after their five-year study of 17,000 Swedish working adults, ages 18 to 64, published in 2011 by the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
25% of participants who had mild stress were awarded disability benefits for physical conditions like angina, high blood pressure, and stroke while nearly 66% drew benefits for a mental illness.
Stress doesn’t care whose life it touches. In the last 16 months since the world got sick, Covid-19 has also shown us just how stressful life can be and why it is important we work together, so that everyone can keep on top of their emotions. Away from other life stresses, Covid-19 has shown just how easy it is for us to continually live with stress.
It has become even more important that we all work together, and whilst it is clear not everyone is doing it, it’s bringing more stress for the rest of us, who are doing our best to get through the pandemic. We all need to work together to help reduce the impact of every day stress, even more so through Covid-19.