Stress Kills

By: Upstream Connections Pte Ltd

It is clear to us nowadays that our general health and our levels of stress are closely related. It is widely acknowledged that stress, whether it is in quick bursts or in a constant state, can induce dangerous body & mind disorders and may also affect our immune, cardiovascular and nervous systems in the long run.

A quick list of the immediate disorders (all of which can result in chronic health problems) that can be caused by stress includes:

  • dizziness
  • anxiety
  • tension
  • insomnia
  • nervous ticks
  • muscle cramps
Picture explaining the difference between stress and anxiety.

There is still no final call on whether stress actually has any strong impact on our cardiovascular ailments or not, however a lot of the research shows that, at least for certain individuals, stress does contribute to a number of cardiac risk factors such as high blood pressure and cholesterol, obesity and propensity towards addictions.

As a response to a stressed state our body shows a high level of palpitation and an increase in the blood pressure. When stressed the body also releases a host of molecules that have potentially dangerous effects for our heart health. The worst amongst these are low density lipoproteins (LDL also called the 'bad cholesterol') and other lipids such as triglycerides. Stress delays the process by which these fats are cleared and their accumulation increases the risk of arteriosclerosis and other heart diseases.

Physical stress (such as vigorous physical activity), not surprisingly, can also place high demands on the heart muscle that some people are just not prepared to take. The coronary artery can get starved for oxygen (since there's a reduced blood flow) trying to meet the demands placed on the body, this is called 'becoming ischemic'. Since about half the people that can suffer from ischemia during physical exercise also experience the same issue during mental stress, these group of people are in serious risk of suffering adverse cardiac conditions.

Where does stress come from?

1. Finances

Most of the research agrees that money (and most importantly lack of money) is a leading cause of stress. Some people can be stressed by major purchases they have to make, such as a home or a car. A lot of people can also be stressed about relatively smaller purchases, like getting a new TV, a mobile phone or, for some people, even choosing a new fancy dress. People can become stressed by the loss of income, paying for their education, mounting credit card debt or even thinking about their retirement income.

2. Work

Also closely tied to finances is work, a constant fountain of frustration and stress according to 21 percent of the respondents on the LifeCare poll. How can our workplace be a cause of stress? Easy. We worry about getting and keeping an adequate employment, about our current and new responsibilities. We struggle to race through the career ladder and, as it is to be expected, feel overwhelmed by the demands. Students have it pretty hard as well, especially teenagers and college age students who cite school work as a major cause of stress. This has deep implications on the future of most of these kids and one should not dismiss it or think that a kid can't be stressed. Young people in their twenties also have school related stress although most of the times it shifts from homework to things like getting the proper score on their classes to be eligible for Becas MEC so they can continue their studies overseas with paid expenses.

Stressed at work?

Here are the 5 most stressful and the 5 least stressful jobs according to the Jobs Rated Almanac:

5 Most Stressful Jobs
  1. President of the United States
  2. Firefighter
  3. Senior corporate executive
  4. Race car driver
  5. Taxi driver
5 Least Stressful Jobs
  1. Medical records technician
  2. Janitor
  3. Forklift operator
  4. Musical instrument repairer
  5. Florist
3. Family

Family, like most of us would suspect, is a leading cause of stress. The ebb and flow of family life (including all the changes, arguments and misunderstandings) is filled with stress.

4. Personal Concerns

The feeling of lacking control easily tops the list of personal concerns that cause stress. We all have a deep desire for control over our own lives which is balanced by our equally deep rooted desire for surprise and the unexpected. When the sensation of control is weak in one area we experience stress. One of the most stressing situations is the perception of a lack of control over your own time. We want to determine when and how we do the things in our lives. Another one is a lack of control about how you look and how significant others can judge us. It is simply amazing the way that the self esteem, and thus the ability to avoid stress, goes up when you just >dress up and look better to yourself.

5. Personal Relationships

Whether it is a friendship, dating, separation, marriage, divorce, or re-marriage, a relationship can be a leading cause of stress for many. It is true that we all want to love and be loved back, but the process doesn't seem to be the jolly ideal that most of us hold in our heads.

6. Death

Most likely one of the most shocking events and certainly a cause of severe stress is the death of a loved one. Even the death of a pet can be deeply stressful, we usually get deeply attached to the things we share our lives with.

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