While there's a wealth of information available about the effects of stress, it can be troublesome trying to wade through it all. Here are some important facts about the effects of stress that can go a long way in helping you understand stress and its role in your life.
The wrong attitude increases stress levels: We all experience stress, but the pessimists, perfectionists, and those with 'type A' personalities greatly increase the level of stress they experience in a given event, and even bring more stressful events into their lives with their self sabotage thought and behaviour patterns.
Some types of stress can be beneficial: A certain type of stress, known as 'eustress,' is actually necessary and beneficial for a balanced and exciting life. Eustress is the type of stress you experience when you're riding a roller-coaster, are playing a fun game, or are falling in love. Eustress makes us feel vital and alive. Chronic stress, however, is another story.
Stop your stress reaction right now: When you experience stress, all manner of physiological changes occur to get you in top physical shape to fight or run. Unfortunately, if you don't calm yourself down relatively quickly, you could remain in this altered state for too long, and it could take a toll on your health. Practicing stress relievers like breathing exercises and meditation can calm you down quickly, returning your body to normal. This doesn't necessarily solve the challenges that triggered your stress response in the first place, but it does help you to move into a frame of mind where you are better able to handle these challenges with a clear head. Read more on how to calm down quickly.
Prevent stress in your life: Some stress is inevitable, but you can structure your life in ways that buffer you from stress and stressful events. For example, maintaining a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and having at least a few close friendships are all important ways to relieve stress and stay healthy.
Stress can age you prematurely: It may be surprising, but stress can be more of a factor in determining your physical age. Stress actually speeds up wear and tear on many, many areas of your body and at all levels, inducing many of the changes we refer to when we talk about 'aging'. Read more about recent research on this here.
Not everyone experiences stress the same way: Certain inborn personality traits and learned thought patterns can cause two people who live through the same event to experience it very differently, with one person finding it extremely stressful and the other finding it only mildly stressful or not at all. Some of these traits you can't change, but others you can alter to a large degree.
'Stress Relievers' can cause more stress: Most of us have a few less-than-healthy ways of dealing with stress. Unfortunately, most of these 'bad habits' that feel so good at the time can really cause much more stress in the long run. If you smoke, , spend too much, or handle stress in a way you know may not be good for you, find resources for understanding how you're affecting your stress levels right now, and find resources for healthier coping.