In today’s world, we are surrounded by stress in our daily life. Stress has crept into our personal and professional lives, whether it hassles in the workplace or the pressure of performing well in studies. Increased and continuous exposure to stress can adversely affect our functioning and negatively affect our health. These effects are not limited to the physiological sphere but can also impact our emotions, cognition and behaviour.
This article has summed up some of the most common effects of prolonged exposure to stress.
Read on to learn about them.
Effects of stress on health and physiological functioning
1. Emotional Effect
People who suffer from stress are likely to experience mood swings and show erratic behaviour that may alienate them from family and friends. Decreasing self-confidence can lead to serious emotional troubles, including anxiety, depression, and physical tension.
2. Cognitive Effect
If pressure due to stress continues, one may suffer from mental overload. This suffering from high levels of stress can rapidly cause individuals to lose their ability to make sound decisions.
3. Behavioral Effect
Stress affects our behaviour by eating less nutritious food and taking a stimulant like caffeine, cigarettes, and alcohol. Such substances have side effects such as loss of concentration, poor coordination, dizziness, disrupted sleep patterns, reduced work performance, and absenteeism.
4. Physiological Effect
When the body is placed under physical/physiological stress, it increases the production of certain hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones produce marked heart rate and metabolism changes, causing increased heart rate and slow digestion.
5. Stress and health
How does stress lead to such physiological defects? The following process can determine the precise mechanisms involved: by draining our resources and keeping us off balance physiologically, stress upsets our complex internal chemistry. In particular it may interfere with the efficient operation of our immune system, the mechanism through which our bodies protect itself from diseases.
People experience exhaustion and attitudinal problems when the stress is too high, and there is little support from family and friends. Physical exhaustion is seen as stages of chronic fatigue and low energy. Mental exhaustion appears in the form of inability and anxiety. The stages of physical, emotional and physiological exhaustion are known as burnout, typically occurring due to the long-term involvement of people in a situation that may be emotionally demanding.
7. Stress and task performance
Psychologists believe that stress improves performance in a wide range of tasks. They maintain that the relationship between stress and task performance takes the form of an upside-down U-curve.
While this relation may be true under some conditions, growing evidence suggests that even low or moderate stress levels can interfere with task performance. First, even relatively mild levels of stress can be distracting. People experiencing stress may focus on the unpleasant feelings and emotions it involves rather than the task at hand. Second, prolonged or repeated exposure to mild stress harms health and may interfere with task performance.
Together these factors help explain why even moderate levels of stress may interfere with many types of performance. However, stress does not always produce adverse effects. For example, people sometimes do seem to rise to the occasion and give sterling performances at times when stress is intense. Perhaps the most reasonable conclusion then is that all those factors can interfere with task performance in many situations, its precise effects depend on many different factors, such as the complexity of the task being performed and the personal characteristics of the individuals involved.
Now that you are aware of how stress can affect the lives of you and your loved ones, it is time to be more conscious of stressors that are present all around us and try to find positivity and sufficient time to relax and rejuvenate!
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