Stress is evidently the pressures and strain of life which can be emotional,chemical or physical as we adapt,cope,perceive,believe and react to these pressures.

Major Stressors(long-term):

  • Impoverishment
  • Chronic ailment or disability
  • Job dissatisfaction
  • Separation or divorce
  • Death of a loved one
  • Type A personality
  • Over ambition
  • Chronic worry
  • Retirement

Daily Stressors(short-term):

  • Family upheavals
  • Loan repayment
  • Noise pollution
  • Traffic congestion
  • Paying utility bills
  • Overcrowding
  • Isolation
  • Deprivation
  • Hunger
  • fear
  • Danger

MAJOR CATEGORIES OF STRESS

Physical Stress:

We often find ourselves in helpless situations that put a tool on our innate instincts while demanding much from learned adaptive skills.Physical stress may arise from excessive exercise,work overload,lack of sleep,physical injury or trauma like road traffic accident,surgery,physical disease and chronic pain.Chronic infections particularly excercabate stress if severe and prolonged like chronic sinusitis,prostatitis,arthritis,cancer,recurrent bouts of rhinitis,sinusitis and chronic H.pylori gastritis.The body experiences more stress if the infection is more profound like acute renal pathology,liver disease,pneumonia,meningitis.Major stress response is triggered by conditions like asthma or even in major disease conditions like heart disease,degenerative illnesses such as parkinson`s disease,alzheimer`s disease,lymphoma,irritable bowel syndrome. Chronic stress can be  induced from conditions like systemic lupus erythematosis and other autoimmune conditions.The stress burden can also be heightened by certain physiological conditions like aging,insomnia,menopause,puberty,pms and hormonal imbalance.While some activities are natural boosters to some people,they can be sources of stress to others initiall until adaptive skills are learned or not.Hence environmental conditions like mountain climbing,snowing or even workout in a gym can be intolerable to some.Others thrive under challenging conditions like strenous sports,manual labour,hunting,game ranging,surfing,skiing and desert walking.

Emotional and Mental Stress:

Any condition or situation can be perceived as stressful depending on perception.Generalized anxiety disorder and worries can arise from debt burden,too much work,too little relaxation,marital conflicts,job dissatisfaction,drug and alcohol abuse.Chronic emotional stress can trigger a plethora of emotions like anger,hostility,depresssion, anxiety and fear.Similarly the worries and generalized anxiety arising from feeling overwhelmed,losing control or feeling confined can also cause profound mental distress.Type A personality,perfectionism,too many commitments,pressing deadlines,family strife,a hectic-patterned lifestyle are fertile grounds for mental and emotional stress.

Environmental Stress:

Our everyday life with the attendant needs put a toll on our health even from minor irritations and frustration in our quest to get things done amidst sources of environmental stress like being late for work,trapped in a traffic jam,clutter and disorganization,trying to concentrate in a noisy environment like an airport.Any of these can result in headaches,stomach cramps,allergies and confusion.

Environmental stress may seem minor but they add up if we are frequently exposed to these minor irritations which will to the lead release of stress hormones that reduces our overall quality of life especially in the presence of a pre-existing major stress.People can be negatively affected by environmental stress from even small amounts of toxins in the air like the recent volcanic ash in Iceland and the massive oil ocean spillage in the gulf of Mexico,carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide,the greenhouse gases: methane and nitrous oxide not forgetting the atomic and nuclear catasthrophies of Hiroshima,Nagasaki and the Chernobyl mishap which till this day portend serious genetic/health and economic repercussions.Some have been known to fall ill with headaches,pains,allergies,exacerbated chronic obstructive airway diseases  and fatigue from exposure to smoke(nicotine),dust,fumes,soot.

Whenever you can,keep the doors and windows open  for fresh air and improvement in the relative humidity.Get as much natural light as possible because it boosts our moods and regulates our biological clock while reducing confinement to artificial light.The “winter blues” was coined from the realisation that many people become more moody and gain weight during winter but lose weight and are more alive in summer.Work next to a window for accessibility to natural light or take your break outside rather than inside.Sunlight deprivation makes us feel blue which can lead to stress prompting us to eat more which eventually leads to weight gain and all its attendant health implications,a hazardous viscious circle.

Chemical Stress:

Excessive use of substances like caffeine,sugar,alcohol,stimulants,nicotine (cigarette smoking), and food additves can cause chemical stress.Significant exposure to mold,fumes allergens,dust and toxic chemicals like diesel exhaust,pesticides,chlorine in tap water,mercury in fish,cadmium in shellfish can all lead to chemical stress which is characterised by allergies,headaches,sleeplessness,fatigue,irritability,asthma,recurrent infections and severe breathing difficulties.Significant blood pressure effects  have been observed in marijuana smokers to its effects on the adrenal gland evas a chemical stressor.However not every person responds to evironmental stressors in the same ways or at the same time.

Thermal Stress :

This arises from prolonged exposure to extremes of temperature either hot or cold in the form of heat stroke,heat exhaustion or hypothermia.Thermal stress has reduced considerably due to improvement in air conditioning and heating systems.Hypothermia can arise in mountainclimbers,hikers or boaters after getting lost aor having insufficient clothing  and shelter.Heat exhaustion can arise in a traffic jam situation in the tropics.

Andrew Okpetu

www.stressandhealthguide.com