September 26

How Stress Affects You Physically

By Richard East

September 26, 2021

Health, Lifestyle, Meditation, Mental Health, Mindfulness, Stress, Wellbeing

Due to the hectic pace of modern life, it has become increasingly difficult to avoid stressful situations in and out of the home. Common sources of stress include financial hardships, issues at work, unsuccessful relationships and familial obligations. Individuals from all stages of life experience stress to varying degrees. However, while we do not usually think of stress in positive terms, we oftentimes fail to really examine the physical toll it takes on our bodies.

Physical Symptoms of Stress

Stress can result in a number of physical ailments. As a matter of fact, one of the most widely reported symptoms of stress is insomnia. This is because individuals experiencing stress frequently have a hard time falling or staying asleep. Over time, this can lead to fatigue, which can impact one’s ability to concentrate or focus.

Acute Stress

Acute stress, which is a short-term response to agitating or alarming stimuli, can also trigger panic and asthma attacks in those that are predisposed to those conditions. Other physical manifestations of stress include headaches, digestive problems, muscular pain and chest aches—all of which have the potential to disrupt our everyday performance in the home or workplace.

How Can Chronic Stress Affect You?

Chronic stress is the outcome of a prolonged state of emotional distress. Symptoms of chronic stress include backaches, abdominal soreness, disrupted sleep and migraines. More worryingly, chronic stress can increase one’s risk of developing more serious long-term physical disorders.

Chronic stress can heighten one’s chances of developing cardiovascular disease, a leading cause of the death in many countries. It has also been found to aggravate heart disease symptoms and can contribute to the risk of stroke and hypertension. Likewise, the immune system can also be hampered by chronic stress. Studies have found that, after a period of time, chronic stress weakens the immune system. This can leave the body susceptible to illnesses.

Here is an infographic depicting types of both Acute and Chronic Stress.

Mindfulness and Stress

The good news is that there are many ways to manage stress. Practicing mindfulness, the art of directing one’s focus to the present, is a strong aid in the battle against stress.

Mindfulness can take many forms. Yoga, meditation, going for a walk and deep breathing exercises—these are all stress-relieving practices that anyone can do on any given day of the week.

Mindfulness helps combat stress by improving one’s ability to concentrate on, confront and control thoughts about stressful situations in a productive and beneficial way. Rather than attempting to ignore or suppress feelings of stress, mindful acknowledgement and management of one’s concerns and frustrations is the key to a healthier life.

I have found being mindful so interesting and helpful. I practice it everyday at some point. I am constantly trying to remind myself to be aware of where I am and what I am doing. Personally my go to mindful moments usually involve nature wether it is in my garden or when I go for a walk. If I am imagining a place then again it will be a place I have been personally. I have been so lucky to have visited The Himalayas when I did the base camp trek. The mountain landscape gives me so much calmness and happiness. The Himalayas were out of this world in beauty.

You can see below Mount Everest with the moon just rising above it. This was taken from Kala Pattar summit literally just as the sun had set behind Mount Everest.

I also use beach imagery. I have again been lucky enough to travel to Mauritius and The Maldives. They are places of absolute beauty and my memories of those locations are very strong and emotive.

Use your memories that you hold dear or close to your heart for your mindfulness meditation imagery. Not in the way of worrying or wishing for the past but in a positive way. Thinking about a place or a time that you felt happy and safe.

Happy meditating.

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