Stress is a common term used today, but few people take the time to truly understand what it entails and how it can affect the human body. In your everyday life, you may encounter various types of stressors that could lead to acute or chronic anxiety. Often, you may accept these as an inevitable part of daily life without giving any thought to how such stress affects the body and how you handle it better.
When left unchecked, prolonged stress can have adverse physical and mental effects. It may also lead to cardiovascular issues, immune system weaknesses and even reproductive problems. The cost of treating these problems can be quite steep. However, with suitable individual health insurance coverage, you can ensure that you are not financially inconvenienced in case of a stress-related health issue.
That said, it is important to understand what causes stress and how you can handle it better.
What is Stress and Why Does it Occur?
In biological terms, stress is the body’s natural response to any dangerous or predatory signals from its external environment. In extreme situations, it can trigger the body’s fight-or-flight response. Typically, when you are stressed, the body increases the production of certain hormones and chemicals like cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine.
These hormones lead to various physical symptoms like sweating, a rise in blood pressure and increased alertness. It may also increase your heart rate and lead to rapid breathing. Depending on its nature and cause, stress can be any one of two types — acute or chronic.
- Acute Stress
Acute stress (or short-term stress) is relatively more common than chronic stress. It may be caused by temporary near-term triggers, like an approaching deadline at work or an argument at home with a family member. Acute stress tends to resolve within a short span of time, and may not have any serious side effects. However, repeated occurrences of such short-term stress issues may lead to chronic stress.
- Chronic Stress
Chronic stress is long-term or prolonged stress that can be much more harmful than acute stress. It is caused by factors that cannot be resolved quickly or within a short span of time. Some examples of triggers that can lead to chronic stress include prolonged illness, long-term financial problems, relationship or marital issues and other such stressors.
When you develop chronic stress issues, it becomes difficult for the body to relax and return to its normal pre-stress state of existence. The levels of stress hormones and chemicals always remain at high levels. This may eventually lead to various health issues like sleep problems, heart disease, cardiovascular troubles, strokes, respiratory illness and reproductive issues.
Tips to Handle Stress Effectively
While it may not be possible to eliminate stress entirely from your life, it is certainly easier to learn how to handle stress on a daily basis. Here are some actionable tips that can help.
- Eat a Balanced Diet
A balanced diet that is rich in the necessary vitamins, minerals and nutrients can help keep your body healthy overall. It ensures that your immune system is strong enough to handle the temporary side effects of stress. On the other hand, poor dietary choices can also cause additional stress.
- Exercise Regularly
Several studies have established a link between regular exercise and reduced stress levels. Exercise may lead to the production of endorphins, which are the body’s feel-good chemicals. These endorphins may directly counteract the effect of the stress hormone cortisol.
- Set Aside Time for Relaxation
Being busy throughout the day may leave you with no time to rest and relax. Over time, such a lifestyle could catch up with you and lead to chronic stress. One of the most effective ways to counteract this is to set aside some time for yourself each day or every week, so you can relax and focus on self-care.
- Identify Stressors and Work Towards Minimising Them
Lastly, it is important to identify the triggers that make you experience stress. Only then can you take the measures to limit exposure to such stressors. For instance, if lack of sleep is becoming too stressful for you to handle, you can make the lifestyle changes needed to ensure you get adequate sleep each night. Alternatively, if financial issues are leading to stress in your daily life, you can take the help of a financial planner.
The measures outlined above can help you handle stress more effectively. However, it is important to be mindful of the triggers that cause you stress, so you can take steps to avoid them as much as possible. However, despite your best efforts, you may still be vulnerable to stress at some points in life. Prolonged anxiety from factors beyond your control could catch up over the years and lead to chronic health issues.
Here is where individual health insurance plans can help. They offer financial protection in case of any medical emergency, so you can focus on accessing the best healthcare facilities available without worrying about the costs.