How Stress Can Affect Your Health

As most people have heard, too much stress can cause adverse physiological effects on the body. While some stress in life can be beneficial, it can also buildup over time and become difficult to manage.

In fact, improperly managing your stress can lead to potentially fatal consequences. Typical stress-related health conditions can include:

• Sleep issues or insomnia
• Decreased libido
• Fatigue
• Muscle Tension
• Anxiety
• Reduced interest in enjoyable activities
• Depression
• Mood swings

Ensuring that you are properly managing your stress levels is absolutely crucial to ensuring lifelong health. With that said, let's take a look at exactly what can cause stress in your life. Two psychiatrists, Thomas Holmes, and Richard Rahe, worked together to determine whether stressful events could cause illnesses. They determined that there was a positive correlation between stressful life events and illnesses. The product of that experiment was a table, that could be used to relatively identify a specific stress score for a specific individual. While their testing included various cultural and occupational backgrounds, it remained a fairly consistent tool in evaluating one's stress levels. It is as follows:

Death of a spouse: 100
Divorce: 73
Marital separation: 65
Death of a close family member: 63
Imprisonment: 63
Personal injury or illness: 53
Marriage: 50
Dismissal from work: 47
Marital reconciliation: 45
Retirement: 45
Change in health of family member: 44
Pregnancy: 40
Business readjustment: 39
Sexual difficulties: 39
Gain a new family member: 39
Change in financial state: 38
Death of a close friend: 37
Change to different line of work: 36
Change in frequency of arguments: 35
Major mortgage: 32
Foreclosure of mortgage or loan: 30
Trouble with in-laws: 29
Child leaving home: 29
Change in responsibilities at work: 29
Outstanding personal achievement: 28
Spouse starts or stops work: 26
Beginning or end school: 26
Change in living conditions: 25
Revision of personal habits: 24
Trouble with boss: 23
Change in working hours or conditions: 20
Change in schools: 20
Change in residence: 20
Change in recreation: 19
Change in church activities: 19
Change in social activities: 18
Minor mortgage or loan: 17
Change in sleeping habits: 16
Change in number of family reunions: 15
Change in eating habits: 15
Vacation: 13
Major Holiday: 12
Minor violation of law: 11

As you can see, some life events that are typically considered positive can be stressful. Knowing these factors as well as how to handle them can go a long way to promote your overall health and wellness. In fact, people with lower stress levels tend to think more clearly and focus on specific tasks, have more energy, and are overall happier in their lives. The key to properly managing stress comes down to specific tolerance levels and your ability to cope.

A coping mechanism can be anything that helps relieve you of stress and or helps you process it. A common coping mechanism that a lot of people use, can come in the form of substance abuse. Typically, alcoholics, drug addicts, and people with a little-to-no support system in life report high stress as one of the leading causes of their lifestyle. This can be explained as compounding your stressors (or stressful events) in an attempt to dismiss them. This can become dangerous and often leads to more stressors down the line.

Coping mechanisms are not all bad, though; some coping skills can include things like outdoor and recreation, volunteering, or spending time with people you enjoy. Sometimes you can experience a particularly stressful event and will struggle to cope. During times like this, it may be beneficial to seek out a professional to help you process and heal.

Consulting a professional is no different from visiting a doctor with a broken arm. They are trained to help you process your feelings and stress and build constructive ways to help strengthen your ability to handle events like these. As always, it's important to know and be honest with yourself. Seeking help when you need it is a sign of maturity and can help you cope with the more worrisome parts of your life.