What is stress?

What exactly is stress? People use the term stress to describe a variety of different symptoms and circumstances. Stress is sometimes seen as difficult situations occurring, or feeling overwhelmed, mentally and/or physically. 

Most people are sedentary, malnourished but overindulge, and are psychologically overstimulated. Overstimulation can occur through electronic devices such as computers, phones, televisions, overworking, and dealing with instability or change. All these factors will have an accumulative toxic effect on the body causing it to operate in overdrive. 

Stress is an indicator that you are finding it hard to adapt to the challenges you may be facing in your life. Our ability to adjust will depend on our internal systems functioning adequately, including our immune, hormonal and nervous system. These challenges do not just include stressful events or situations but also stress on the body resulting from poor diet, lack of exercise, poor sleep, and exposure to toxins. Stress can be a thought, a physical entity, or a reaction to something.

Challenges will come and go, but it is our reactions to them, that will determine whether they will affect us adversely or not. If you are thriving both physically and mentally, then you will be more resilient to the difficulties that you may encounter in your life. This resilience will help you lead a happier and more productive life. 

Many of us do not realise the consequences of ignoring stress until more noticeable symptoms occur. We may be accustomed to carrying on with our lives feeling under par. To struggle along may seem the norm because we may have forgotten the experience of having abundant energy and enthusiasm. We simply may continue just as we are, usually until something goes wrong somewhere along the line. 

Our health may deteriorate either from a physical perspective such as an ailment or a disease may develop, or a mental problem such as depression or anxiety. When we do finally seek help, we are often offered treatment for the symptoms, but the underlying cause of the stress continues to create havoc within our bodies, so we do not notice any long lasting improvements.

When facing stress, our body perceives these situations as a threat and reacts accordingly. However, most of the stressful situations we face do not need this physical response from us. It is the physical response that leads to chemical, and hormonal changes to occur, resulting in the symptoms associated with stress. 

Just one stressful thought may give rise to a cascade of physical reactions within the body. If these responses are triggered continually such as with chronic stress, it can lead to fatigue. The purpose of the stress response is to help protect us from harmful threats, (the 'fight or flight response,') but if it remains in overdrive, being re-activated over and over again, it will cause damage to our bodies instead. When our system becomes overloaded, this can result in us feeling ‘wired,' nervous, edgy and tense.  If the stress is left unmanaged, this chronic tension and anxiety can lead to exhaustion and finally burnout.

Recognising the signs and symptoms of stress is vital to managing it effectively. There are many different techniques of stress management, but the best results arise from using a mind, body and soul approach. This combines a variety of holistic methods to allow the body to rebalance. I shall discuss these in more detail in further articles.

Article written by Dr Aleesha Dhillon
Dr Aleesha Dhillon
Disclaimer: This article is solely for information purposes. It is not to replace a consultation with a qualified health professional. It should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. The article is based on the opinions of the author who retains copyright. You are advised to make your own health decisions based on your research and alongside a qualified health professional. Please consult a doctor if you have any health concerns.

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