We worry over stress, but actually, stress is GOOD! Everyone suffers with it from time to time but you might be asking, what is stress? As we said, stress is meant to be good. Can you believe it, we are actually telling you that it’s good. Before we get to why stress is good though, let’s find out more about stress.
What is Stress?
The definition of stress is “the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressure or other types of demand place on them” (HSE)
Now, just so we’re all on the same page. Adverse means that it’s unfavourable.
What happens inside our body?
We think of stress as something that is only mentally affecting us. However, it creates changes in our body when this adverse reaction (stress) occurs. The first thing that happens is the body goes into ‘fight or flight response’, Inside our body what is happening in the adrenal glands, are producing cortisol and adrenaline:
- Cortisol – increases glucose in the blood and energy production.
- Adrenaline – increases blood pressure and speeds up the heart.
The combination of the two hormones can then make us more productive. It gives us the energy we need to complete a task on time, it makes us ace that exam, helps us keep running during that 10k run.
Short-term these changes in our body can be good for us. This is why stress can be good for us, it can keep us getting up in a morning and keep us focused on a task.
HOWEVER, then comes the own side of when the stress is too much for our body to cope. This is different for everyone. We all have our thresholds. You may be a person who can handle a lot of stress before it’s too much or you may be a person who can’t be stressed too long.
When does stress become a problem?
If stress is starting to become a problem for us, our body and mind will start to tell us. Take a look at some of the emotional, physical and behavioural effects of stress:
Mental Effects of Stress:
- Low self-esteem
- Constant worrying
- Racing thoughts
- Lack of concentration
- Difficulty making decisions
- Chest pain
- Muscle tension
- Outbursts of anger
- Undereating or overeating
- Changes in sex drive
- Social withdrawal
- Exercising less often than usual
Long term effects of stress
We now know what stress is, what it does to our body and the signs/symptoms of stress. These are all short term signs/symptoms. Long term, stress is one hundred percent not good for us. The effects of having increased blood pressure and glucose can cause both mental and physical health problems.
Here are a few examples for you:
- Mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and personality disorders.
- Cardiovascular problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.
- A weakened immune system, leading to lower resistance to infections.
- Digestive problems, such as stomach ulcers, diarrhoea and appetite loss.
- Changes in behaviour such as alcohol and substance misuse.
As you can see, stress doesn’t just affect us mentally. It affects our body physically too. It can be good for us, to help motivate us and keep us on track. However, eventually, it will get too much and we need to watch out for the mental, physical and behavioural signs/symptoms. Otherwise, in the long term, we could have both physical and mental problems occur.
If you want to find out more about mental health, why not take a look at our wide range of first aid for mental health courses. Don’t worry if you can’t make it to an open course classroom course, we also offer the Level 3 Supervising First Aid for Mental Health as distance learning.