Friday, 23 Mar 2018
Can Stress Make Me Sick?
By Private Therapy Clinic
As we learn more about how our minds and bodies interact, we are getting more knowledgeable about the role of stress when it comes to our health.
Stress is a normal function and, at times, stress can be very useful. For example, when we are facing an imminent threat (for instance, if we are crossing the road and there’s a car barrelling towards us, or if someone is trying to attack us) we go into fight-or-flight mode. Our body secretes an extra burst of adrenaline, and we are better able to remove ourselves from danger. In emergency situations, stress can help us to stay safe.
In terms of our health, however, chronic stress can cause and/or aggravate health problems of all sorts. Basically, when we have chronic stress, we are in fight or flight mode all the time. That means that our bodies are making high levels of adrenaline and other hormones associated with stress, such as cortisol, even when there is no immediate risk to our well-being.
This puts our bodies under enormous pressure. If we already have an underlying health condition like diabetes or irritable bowel syndrome (or many more), our symptoms are likely to be worse. Addictive conditions like alcoholism, abuse of other substances, and over-eating can all be made much worse by stress, and all of those problems are a challenge to our health as well.
Psychologically, chronic stress can be very damaging too. We may find it hard to sleep well, and struggle with tiredness all day. Our temper is likely to be bad, and we may find ourselves snapping and lashing out at the people we care about. The more difficult things become, the greater the pressure on our self-esteem, and if our self-esteem is knocked, we can spiral into a pattern of ever greater stress.
The good news is that there are many ways in which stress can be treated. Simple approaches like getting more exercise can make a big difference, as can mindfulness techniques and psychotherapy. There is no one size fits all approach, and each person with stress has to find their own way towards greater happiness. It may not always be possible to eliminate all of the sources of our stress, but if we can remove or reduce at least some of them, all the better.
As our levels of chronic stress improve, we are likely to find improvements in our physical health too. Some health problems might never go away, but symptoms will be less severe and more manageable, and with a happier, sunnier outlook, we will find that they cause fewer problems in our daily lives.
Chronic stress is a common feature of modern living, but we don’t have to just put up with it.
WHO CAN I SPEAK TO FURTHER ABOUT THE ISSUES IN THIS ARTICLE?
For help with the issues discussed in this article speak to one of our therapists here at Private Therapy Clinic for a free initial chat or to make an appointment.