5 Surprising Facts About Stress
Learn more about stress and its impacts
Stress, stress, stress…
Some of you might be too familiar with this (rather unfortunately!). Everyone experiences stress from time to time, because life happens! You might be stressed about an exam, starting a new job, getting married (completely understandable!), or even something as mundane as facing rush hour traffic daily.
Stress affects everyone differently and could lead to detrimental health impacts, like heart disease and clinical depression. Curious to learn more about stress? Here are some facts you may have not known:
#1: There are mainly three types of stress
These are acute stress, episodic acute stress, and chronic stress. Acute stress is brief and related to pressures of everyday life, like an approaching deadline. Episodic acute stress is something you might experience due to frequent triggers or if you have a Type A personality, that is, constantly feeling you’re working against the clock and being highly competitive. Chronic stress is long-term in nature, in which the repeated stress response takes a toll on your health.
#2: There’s a beneficial type of stress!
We bet you didn’t expect this! Eustress is something positive you experience when you do something exciting or “venture into the unknown” — riding a roller-coaster, watching a scary movie, starting a new hobby, doing a hard workout, travelling, or even the anticipation of going on a first date.
Eustress doesn’t come without symptoms; your heart can still pound, you might feel sweaty, and you might still feel an adrenaline rush. But this type of stress motivates you, develops your resilience, and is key in maintaining psychological well-being.
#3: Stress is intricately linked with your gut
Did you know that you have a “second brain”? This is called the enteric nervous system, which is involved in digestion. This second brain is also involved in your body’s stress response. When your body’s fight-or-flight response is triggered, your enteric nervous system slows down digestion. This helps divert energy to other body parts, like your muscles, to deal with the perceived threat.
Even for less threatening triggers, like a job interview, your enteric nervous system might temporarily disrupt your digestion. This is the reason for the “butterflies in your stomach” and feelings of nauseousness when you’re nervous! Chronic stress can lead to long-term gastrointestinal problems, which can severely affect your quality of life.
#4: Stress affects your skin
Your skin can tell you if you’re stressed, and there’s a complex pathway behind this. Stress triggers the production of factors and hormones that can do two things: direct immune cells from the blood to the skin or stimulate skin cells involved in inflammation. These can contribute to various skin conditions and symptoms like itching.
Stress can also disrupt the top epidermal layer of the skin, which retains moisture and protects against harmful microbes. This disruption can lead to eczema, psoriasis, or even wounds.
#5: “Burnout” is officially recognized as a syndrome by the World Health Organization (WHO)
Yes, the global health biggie has classified this type of professional stress as an occupational phenomenon. In 2019, burnout was included in the International Classification of Diseases, which is the WHO’s global diagnostic tool for all health conditions. It’s described as follows: “Burn-out is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions:
- feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
- increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and
- reduced professional efficacy.”
Although some kinds of stress are inevitable in life, chronic stress can manifest itself in different ways and have devastating consequences on your physical and mental well-being. If you’re now stressed about stress, don’t be! Managing stress is easier than you think, and these tips from Harvard Health can help you get started:
- Take a new approach. Changing your perspective on how you approach everyday life situations can go a long way!
- Burn off tension. Start an exercise routine or pick up a new de-stressing hobby, like gardening, baking, or crocheting!
- Get organized. Establishing systems (like keeping your keys in the same location) and planning your day beforehand can help prevent unnecessary acute stress.
Remember, the only person who can keep YOU the healthiest is YOU!
DISCLAIMER: Dr. YOU aims to bring you the latest evidence-based science, and our content is for informational purposes only. The content is not medical advice or guarantee of an outcome. You should always consult a doctor or qualified healthcare professional if you need further clarification and before making any changes to your treatment plans and lifestyle, or that of others.
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