By Dr SonaliKolte
General Manager, MedicoMarketing
Stress – just the word may be enough to set your nerves on edge.Everyone is stressed in some form or other. Some people handlestress effectively or recover from stressful situations quicker than others. Stress is good if it is a short term phenomenon and pushes you to achieve your goals or targets, but it is harmful, if it prolongs or becomes routine.
Stress can be defined as a physical, mental, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension. We usually tend to think that stress can lead to negativity, but that isn’t the case always. However, anything that puts high demands and forces you to adjust accordingly can be stressful. Stress may have adverse effect on your health, but one may not realize it. Chronic unrelenting stress has become so common in modern life; provoking feelings of hopelessness; what is usually termed as a defeat response.
Stress and emotions related to stress trigger chemical reactions in the body and leads to increased fat storage, abdominal obesity, tissue breakdown, suppression of the immune system, increased risk for heart disease etc.
The human body is wired to react to stress in a particular manner which helps you prepare for a situation. Imagine a close encounter with a speeding car; this is when you encounter a perceived threat. The hypothalamus, which is a small portion of the brain, sets off your body in to an alarm mode. A combination of nerve and hormonal responses signals the adrenal gland to release hormones that includes Adrenaline and Cortisol.
When stressors are always present and the subsequent exposure to these hormones, especially cortisol for a prolonged period leads to a lowered BMI, increased fat storage and increases risk for hypertension, heart disease and stroke. Furthermore, stress also wrecks the immune system. During stress, cortisol suppresses the inflammation process and over a period of time the body develops resistance to cortisol. Additionally, cortisol and corticosteroids suppresses lymphocytes and puts the body at an increased risk of infection such as influenza and other diseases.
There are multiple ways to cope up with stress; which begins with identifying the sources of stress and dealing with it. Since stress has a direct impact on health, it is important to regularly monitor health parameters to make sure your vital organs are performing well. A typical health package to monitor stress and its effects would include tests to measure blood sugar, cholesterol, lipids, cortisol etc. This tells you if you are at risk for heart disease, stroke and gives an overall indication of your inner health.
To conclude: “It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it”, Says Hans Selye, author of The Stress of Life. What is your reaction to stress?