Medically Reviewed by Dr. David Costa Navarro
What is that
Stress is a state of physical and mental tension, due to factors external to the organism. However, these factors are an integral part of the individual’s life itself. They subject the body to a real physical and mental “fatigue”, demanding a continuous “state of alert” to deal with the situations that arise daily. Thus, for example, trafficking, study, work, children’s problems require constant attention and great psychophysical commitment to be dealt with efficiently, to be up to the situation at all times. But it is in moments of particular concern, of intense pain (such as the death of a family member), of examinations, of change and instability of one’s life that one feels the influence of these factors on the nervous system, which reacts causing extreme fear and anxiety to the individual.
How it manifests itself
The organism, alarmed by such intense stresses, releases hormones into the bloodstream that increase heart rate, breathing, glandular secretion and muscle contraction. So you can hear your heart beat faster, sweat your hands, be more tense. We are nervous and agitated, we get upset by a dispute, we blur in having to stand in a queue, we get impatient for the liveliness of the children. When the state of apprehension is too strong and persistent you feel like you are gripped in a vise and you feel a lump in your throat that prevents you from breathing. You cannot sleep and this generates more and more tiredness. The irritability threshold decreases more and more: we get irritated at the slightest setback, we get angry in any discussion and even small difficulties become problems that seem insurmountable. We become unable to act, to decide, to listen to others; more and more worried, more and more anxious.
What are the risks
The amount of stress that can be tolerated varies from person to person. The more anxious people are more predisposed to suffer the insults of stressful situations, compared to people who, of a calm nature, manage to overcome them in a better way. Too much stress can lead to problems especially of a psychological nature, reduce the state of well-being and lead to real diseases affecting different parts of the body, including the stomach, intestines, skin, mouth, bladder, lungs and the heart. We can note, for example, how frequently associated with stress: ulcer, constipation, herpes, acne, dermatitis and arrhythmias. Especially in old age stress can be the cause of heart attacks.
What should be done
To prevent daily stress from building up, it is good to:
- take moments of rest during the day; moments of pause in which to practice a psychophysical relaxation, closing the eyes and breathing deeply;
- exercise regularly. Physical exercise practiced at a slow pace such as cycling, walking, swimming, soft gymnastics, help to reduce tension and promote sleep;
- eat a balanced diet; eat slowly, enjoying food and forgetting the problems of work, trying to make lunch a pleasant moment;
- sleep long enough; remember that calm and serenity allow you to do things better;
- face life and various situations with a lot of “philosophy”, thinking not to be overwhelmed by them.
When the problems that bother you seem too many and the stress has already caused you anxiety, it is useful:
- share with others their concerns and fears, trying together with them to find a solution to the problem, or at least vent, by speaking, their own tension;
- try to tackle one problem at a time and not all together;
- never use alcohol or drugs to relieve stress. Although you may feel better for a short time, they do not remove the problems that cause stress and can induce habit.