“Happiness is a choice. You can choose to be happy. There’s going to be stress in life, but it’s your choice whether you let it affect you or not.”
– Valerie Bertinelli
Stress, the least favorite of all emotions, is something experienced by each individual at some point in their lives. A man could have died before finding his love, but not before facing stress.
Stress can be defined, echoing the oxford dictionary, as “a state of affair involving demand on physical or mental energy”. Horrendous as it sounds, it has its own merits. Hans Seley, the man to define stress for the first time, differentiated between the good and the bad stress. He called the good stress “eustress” while the bad stress remained “stress”.
You can detect if you’re experiencing unhealthy levels of stress. If you are unable to complete tasks and your attention span has shortened, you catch colds more often, have body aches and diseases, headaches, short tempered and have trouble sleeping or sleep too much, don’t feel like eating or eat too much and are always at your nerves ends – assuming these are not the traits you were born with – you are definitely experiencing loads of stress.
The positive and negative impacts of this emotional state are discussed below.
Positive effects of stress
According to experts, stress is the best motivation in the world. Stress helps to meet deadlines and accomplish goals. Stress in a small dose is extremely beneficial in helping you achieve the impossible.
Stress activates several mechanisms in our body, a stronger memory being one of them. The most important, however, is the fight or flight mechanisms. As soon as our body detects stress, it starts producing chemicals like epinephrine and cortisol which eventually improves our focus. An increased heart rate and sweating is accompanied by the senses to pull your hand back when you touch something hot. The brain is programmed to work better, both emotionally and physically, under moderate amounts of stress. So a little amount of stress in necessary in one’s life. It helps us protect ourselves from the dangers of the outside world. The instincts to duck out a ball hurled your way or to jump out of the range of a rashly driven vehicle is often initiated because of stress.
A moderate level of stress also contributes towards an improved immune system.
So it doesn’t really hurt to be a little stressed at times. Good stress or eustress is a motivator, cognitive enhancer as well as a physical enhancer. Loads of stress, however, is a whole new story. We should definitely not harbor stress in our minds for a prolonged period.
Negative effects of stress
Higher levels of stress decrease the immunity of the body. Fatigue and depression start creeping in. Too much of epinephrine is harmful for the heart. This leads to anxiety attacks and heart disorders.
One may start facing a loss of appetite or an increase in hunger. This decreases the glow of one’s skin and results in him/ her loosing or gaining weight, which is extremely harmful for their metabolism.
One may also develop insomnia. Dark circles would be the least of their problems when fatigue takes a toll. A lack of concentration will be inevitable.
Anger, fear and insecurities start creeping in due to stress which results in an increased amount of epinephrine to be released. Apart from this, hydro-cortisone is also released in our blood. All these factors play up to create a chaos of the body’s homeostasis.
It is extremely harmful for the body as it causes an increasing in our pulse rate. We also tend to sweat and breath faster. Stress can lead to problems like asthma, headaches, backaches, diabetes; heart attacks an can even prove to be carcinogenic. It can cause depression whereby one may attempt suicide, in other words, stress can cause death.
As humans, it is our duty to be considerate towards one another. Pressure at work and school are the top factors causing stress in our society. But it isn’t healthy to harbor this pressure for prolonged periods. It is our duty to look into our well being and discard stress related issues as trivial.
As Hans Seley puts it, “Adopting the right attitude can convert a negative stress into a positive one. It’s not stress that kills us; it is our reaction to it. Man should not try to avoid stress any more than he would shun food, love or exercise.”