Everyone gets affected by stress. No one, not even the calmest person in the world can ever be exempted from the stress that is given by internal and external factors. The difference is how people adjust to the situation and cope with the changes and issues that stress brings and affects. This is why they call stress the silent killer because it lurks stealthily and it can affect any part of our being. Let us discover what stress can do to our health and what instances can justify why others call stress the silent killer.
Stress as a silent killer: A complex definition
Defining stress is difficult and easy at the same time, so finding its real meaning is stressful. Simply put, stress is a reaction. Objectively, the stress in humans can be defined as a reaction to a, more often than not, negative situation. The mere fact that the cause may be real or not, but just the thought of something bad can happen will actually be stressful for most people. Subjectively, stress is everything you feel when you worry. Even the littlest thing can be stressful for a person, while the most stressful event in a man’s life, like death, can be mildly stressful to another. The level of stress a person goes through with each situation can be ever-changing, and sometimes, encountering the same scenario can elicit different levels of stress at different times.
Symptoms of stress
If defining stress is difficult enough, determining if a person is stressed may also be puzzling. For most people, showing signs and symptoms of stress may be very easy, and these include:
- Increased heart rate
- Chest pain
- Breathing difficulty (hyperventilation)
- Sweating (cold hands and feet)
- High blood pressure
- Muscle tension (aching and tightened muscles)
- Disorientation (forgetfulness, poor judgment, thoughts racing )
- Abdominal problem (upset stomach, diarrhea, abdominal cramps)
- Feeling nervous and agitated (fidgeting, nail-biting, habitual biting of the lip, etc.)
- Mild to moderate tremors (shaking or spasms)
- Difficulty in concentrating or focusing
Calling stress the silent killer: The consequences
Succumbing to the effects of stress and letting it consume you is actually a decision and a choice. Feeling stressed is a normal part of our everyday lives, but if you choose to let it control your decisions and feelings, it can really be true when people address and announce stress the silent killer. Here are some effects stress can do to your body.
- Psychological and psychiatric problems like depression, anxiety, panic disorder, and different personality disorders
- Cardiac diseases like hypertension, arrhythmia, dysrhythmia, heart attack, or stroke
- Nutritional deficiencies from obesity or developing eating disorders
- Reproductive disorders due to changes in sexual appetite and loss of desire
- Dermatologic problems like alopecia, psoriasis, acne, eczema, etc.
- Digestive problems like hyperacidity, ulcers, GERD, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome (IRS), or chronic diarrhea
- Interpersonal problems like isolation, addiction, procrastination, and aloofness
How to fight stress the silent killer
We handle stress differently. Each individual has their own threshold for stressful conditions and no one is entitled to dictate how they should handle and cope with their own situation. Here are just some important reminders so that people encountering stress can be enlightened on how they should address and handles stressful people and situations.
Know the culprit.
It is important to identify what conditions stress you and what triggers your stress. Knowing the cause helps you prevent or avoid them as much as possible from happening, thus, saving yourself from a higher level of stress.
When faced with a difficult condition, this is when your character really shines. Knowing your ‘fight or flight’ tendencies and reactions can help you cope with stressful situations. Make sure that you are in tune with the healthy side of your psyche and body so that no matter how emotionally or physically drained you may be, you will not resort to poor decisions and risk your safety and life due to stress.
Knowing your purpose and finding something to look forward to can help you look past the stressful scenario and plan for the future. Knowing that something better and brighter can happen after experiencing such difficult challenges in life would not let you succumb to the sadness or anxiety you may be feeling, and focus your attention on finding solutions so you can move on and live better.
They say that exercising lets your body produce chemicals that make you feel and think happy thoughts, called endorphins. Brisk walking, boxing, or other forms of physical exercise can also take away your focus on your problem and divert it to more fruitful ways of strengthening your body. On the other hand, practicing meditation, yoga, tai chi, and other non-active exercises can calm you down and ease stressful feelings and emotions. Moreover, eating healthy foods rich in vitamins and minerals will benefit you as well so you wouldn’t be vulnerable to infections and viruses.
Strengthen your support system.
Just the thought that someone cares for you instantly carries you out of the shadows of loneliness and isolation. Surround yourself with your trusted and reliable social circle and be enveloped with positive thoughts and energy so that the psychological and mental effects of stress may be kept at bay. Listen to constructive advice from your family and friends and confide your innermost feelings so that your emotions will not be contained and cause poisonous ideations in your head.
Consult a specialist.
Now that many people are resorting to suicide and addiction as an easy way out of stress, many psychologists, psychiatrists, and behavioral experts are extending their hands in helping people cope with stress. The alarming number of people who take their own lives just to get away with it warrants other people to call stress the silent killer. Some even develop acute or chronic diseases that may be severe in nature that it could easily take someone’s life. So, if you think and feel that you of a family member are exhibiting telltale signs of stress, depression, and anxiety, talk to a medical professional right away so they can help you cope with it.