Stress affects everyone no matter their lifestyle choices. It is talked about in mountains of health articles and generally known as something to be avoided as it is linked to various illnesses and is a major factor in strokes and heart attacks. But really, what is stress? And in this world set in overdrive, how can stress be avoided?
We usually think of stress as a feeling of being overwhelmed, overloaded, wondering whether or not we can cope with the tasks at hand. But in reality, anything that poses a challenge to our overall peace of mind or body is a stressor. Stressors cause stress.
Stress is defined by help guide.org, as “your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand or threat. When you feel threatened, your nervous system responds by releasing a flood of stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, which rouse the body for emergency action.”
That being said, some stresses are good for us. They get us up and keep us going forcing us into an active lifestyle. However, when stress builds up and you cannot find a positive outlet for it, it becomes a health hazard unlike any other and can be a very dangerous thing. So how do you control stress before it builds into something harmful? We each perceive and process stress differently. Some studies suggest that stressful strain on our physical bodies all boils down to how we mentally perceive our daily stressors. Mind over matter more or less.
Medical news today suggests that how we perceive the stressful events in our lives could be directly related to our physical health. What matters more than the actual stressful event is how we perceive it. If we perceive it in a negative overwhelming way, the stress we endure is more acute than if we perceive that same stressor with a positive outlook. In other words, we can control our stress by perceiving the world around us in a different light.
Researchers at the University of Western Ontario have found that “perception of stress affects heart attack risk. - people who believe their stress is affecting their health in a big way are twice as likely to have a heart attack ten years later.”
A study produced by Pennsylvania State University found that stress was not the problem. The problem lies in how we react to the stressors. It was found that how patients react to daily stress can affect their overall health up to a decade later.
The lead researcher on the project, Professor David Almeida said, “For example, if you have a lot of work to do today and you are really grumpy because of it, then you are more likely to suffer negative health consequences ten years later from now than someone who also has a lot of work to do today, but doesn’t let it bother her.”
How we perceive our daily lives and the work we do goes a long way in determining our overall health and future. So how to cut down on our stress in this hyperactive world of ours is simple. Change our negative outlook into a more positive one. Seeking meditation, getting a better night’s sleep, taking daily vitamin supplements, and getting regular exercise all help to change our outlook on life and also help to reduce the stress within ourselves thus improving our health for decades to come.