Why Is Stress Bad?
Stress can have a considerably negative impact on both your mental and physical wellbeing. It can lead to numerous health complications, and significantly affect your quality of life.
Stress doesn’t just have a direct effect on your general wellbeing, it can also lead to other issues which damage your health further, such as insomnia and sleep deprivation.
It can also be a major disruption to your daily functioning, stopping you from working and going about your everyday life. In 2018, a study by the Mental Health Foundation found that 74% of people felt overwhelmed or unable to cope due to stress.
But what exactly is stress? And how can you prevent its negative impacts? This guide will take you through the causes of stress, why it’s bad and tips to help manage it and promote your wellbeing.
What Is Stress?
The Mental Health Foundation defines stress as “the degree to which you feel overwhelmed or unable to cope as a result of pressures that are unmanageable.”
At its most basic description, stress is a response our bodies have to certain situational pressures, such as taking an exam, moving house or other significant life events. What makes a person stressed varies considerably between individuals, their environment and their genetics.
Common things that can cause stress include:
- A new or unexpected situation or experience
- Something which makes you feel out of control
When we experience stress, the body is triggered into producing stress hormones, which then activate the “fight or flight” response.
Whilst this response can help people to effectively respond to certain situations, (e.g. speaking to a crowd of people or running in a marathon), sometimes this response can be excessive and damaging.
When stress becomes chronic, this response can lead us to feel overwhelmed, and damage both our mental and physical health.
How Is Stress Bad for You?
When stress becomes an issue, it can damage your quality of life by a considerable amount. Below are a few of the issues stress can bring to sufferers:
- Changes in emotions - stress can trigger a whole host of bad feelings, including anger, sadness, fear and anxiety. Stressful life events are even reported to increase the risk of getting depression.
- Physical pain and damage – sufferers of stress can also experience indigestion, headaches and nausea, in addition to negative changes in their sleeping and eating habits.
- Changes in your behaviour – those who suffer from stress may also start to experience changes in their behaviour, becoming more irritable, tearful, or even aggressive.
Stress can be bad for you in numerous different ways, and may lead to serious health complications when not taken care of. When suffering from unhealthy levels of stress, it’s important to take steps in managing and alleviating this.
Tips for Managing Stress
Managing and alleviating your stress levels can be a challenging task. Below are a few simple things you can do that might help in better managing your stress:
- Reflect on your lifestyle
- Eat a healthy diet
- Build a support network
Certain aspect of your lifestyle may be contributing to your stress levels. It can help to reflect on your lifestyle, considering whether you’re taking on too much, and try to reorganise your way of living to promote calm and reduce stress.
Another way to alleviate the stress associated with your lifestyle is through your environment. Optimising your home for relaxation through calming lights, scented candles and comfortable cushions and throws can promote a sense of calm and reduce stress and anxiety.
Weighted blankets can be a great addition to this, helping to provide proprioceptive input that reduces restlessness and stress.
Eating a healthy diet can also help to promote wellbeing and alleviate feelings of stress. There is an increasing amount of research showing the impact food can have on your mood. By eating a healthy, nutritious diet you may be able to promote your wellbeing and the feelings associated with this.
Additionally, cutting down on any smoking or drinking may also help to alleviate feelings of stress and anxiety. Whilst cigarettes and alcohol may feel like they reduce tension, they can actually exacerbate stress, and make the issue worse.
Exercise can also help to boost your mood by promoting the release of endorphins in the body. It can help to reduce the symptoms commonly associated with anxiety and mild depression, and can even help to promote healthy sleep that your stress might be disrupting.
Support networks can also play a vital role in helping to manage and further alleviate your stress. Confiding in close friends and members of your family who will offer support and practical advice can help to make you feel less alone with your struggles, and could also help you to find further ways to manage and alleviate them.
Whilst these tips may be effective in helping to manage your stress, it’s important to seek professional help when struggling with your mental health.
For more Calming guides on stress, sleep and more, please visit our blog.