The effect of stress and anxiety on mental, physical and emotional health is something that needs to be addressed again and again. It should come as no surprise that one of the most talked-about topics of this last decade has been and continues to be the effect of stress and anxiety on our well-being.
Stress is a part of life and we can’t completely avoid the effects as we face stress and anxiety in our lives. The way, stress affects our mental, physical and emotional health is directly linked to our ability to manage our energy flow. It’s true that each cell of our body responds to stress and anxiety or trauma. Certainly, stress affects all the organ systems of our body sooner or later.
We often link our problems, daily fatigue, anger, irritability, migraine, headaches, sleeplessness, and restlessness to underlying conditions or illnesses. Unfortunately chronic stress and anxiety become the culprit behind our ill mental, physical and emotional health.
“According to the American Institute of Stress, the effects of chronic stress cost US companies over 300 billion dollars per annum.”
It does not matter how compliant people are with their physician’s advice and guidance on stress management. Regardless of this fact, many eventually develop diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and myocardial infarction as a result. Why? We can ignore the signs, and this is often the case. It is unfortunate, that we fail to understand is that since birth our bodies have been storing the tension.
What is Stress Memory?
The ‘Psoas’ muscle is in the lower lumbar part of the body. Basically, the Psoas muscle is basically responsible for holding our upper body to our lower body and moving our legs towards the abdomen of the body similar to walking gestures. The Psoas also stores stress memory because this muscle is also involved majorly in a “fight or flight” response. If the chronically stored stress during a “fight or flight response” or an emergency situation is not released, various health issues may arise particularly IBS, gastric ulcers, mood changes, suicidal thoughts, social isolation and much more. Masking the stress using painkillers, muscle relaxants, opioids, and tranquillizers will not treat the real problem.
Most people, as they feel the effect of stress and anxiety taking hold, find a shortcut way using alcohol and drugs. The constant use of drugs or alcohol provides instant but short-lived alleviation. After some time period, they become tolerant of previous doses as it all becomes ineffective. The problem is then exacerbated as it becomes on of addiction. This not only urges them to consume more drugs but also puts a financial strain.
A way to help the effects of stress and anxiety
The best way is to release the stress and let the body relax and get back to normal energies. We do not realise too just how much we constantly take in small doses of stress each day whether in the form of financial, personal or social life. This problem even becomes worse for people performing stressful jobs involving dealing with the trauma of other people like fire firefighters, security personnel, paramedics, surgeons, physicians, animal rescuers, welfare volunteers, etc. Furthermore, problems can also arise regarding career and health because work pressure puts continuous emotional and physical stress on them,
Stress and Anxiety affect Emotional Behaviour
Stress is a worldwide epidemic affecting millions of lives globally. Depression, anxiety, and psychiatric and mental disorders are becoming more and more common. Chronic stress affects behavioural and emotional health symptoms including irritability, hostility, frustration, anger, aggressive feelings, and behaviour. Stress can also be the cause of decreased interest in appearance, punctuality, or obsessive behaviour (engaging in compulsive behaviour rituals such as counting, checking, washing, etc.). Likewise in the workplace, the impact might be reduced work efficiency or productivity, lying or making excuses to cover up poor work. Furthermore, excessive defensiveness or suspiciousness, problems in communication, social withdrawal and isolation, and impulsivity (expressed as impulse buying, gambling, rape, etc) can occur.
The Impact on Our Young Generation
We hear news on a daily basis of murders, robberies, chaos, violence, and suicides. Unfortunately, our young generation is also falling into the cracks as pressure grows on them from stress, and anxiety.
In a recent event in Manchester, a boy was stabbed with multiple wounds is admitted to the hospital. The UK has seen far too many of these incidents occurring. The impact on families and communities is devastating.
It is similar to the shootings that have been going on in Florida, continuing to cause grief and misery among the victim’s families and communities. There is countless news coming each day about crimes, social violence, anger, and aggressive behaviours. This is all related to chronic stress at some point. The hate experienced by others, we also store in our body, until such times we notice and perhaps too late, that our body pays the price. That’s why addressing stress, anxiety and tension is necessary for harmonizing emotional behaviours for the promotion of a healthy society.
Small Things Cause Anxiety and Stress
The effect of stress and anxiety can come from bad feelings, bullying, financial stress, joblessness, death of a loved one, breakups, poor self-image, childhood abuse, divorces, accidents, mental or physical trauma, violent personal or job situations and being broke may not seem detrimental to health. Certainly by the very nature of our constitution, in the UK, we would rather hold on to our feelings than admit there was something not right. The classic response to anyone who cares to ask us ‘How are you?’ the response is always ‘I’m OK’ no matter what we feel inside, we block or ignore it. The long-term consequences are that stress can, does and will negatively impact our health.
Stress – Fight or Flight?
A stressor is a name given to the causing agent. The stressor stimulates the hypothalamus present in the central nervous system of the brain. Hypothalamus in response to a stressor stimulates adrenal glands to release “cortisol” and “adrenaline” causing stress. This fight or flight response affects the body by increased pulse, rapid heart rate, dry mouth, decreased digestion, diarrhoea, panic, decreased growth processes, dysfunctioning reproductive system, decreased immune functions, rapid breathing rate, and increased blood flow to the limbs preparing the body for a survival mode. This fight-or-flight system is beneficial under short-term stress. (1)
If the body is under the continuous effect of a stressor then symptoms can become a chronic or long-term problems adversely affecting the body’s normal functions.
Stress and Diabetes
A major contributing factor to Diabetes. Stress not only aggravates blood glucose levels but also in causing type-2 diabetes. Stress is a potential contributor to chronic hyperglycemia in diabetes. Stress has long been shown to have major effects on metabolic activity. Energy mobilization is a primary result of the fight or flight response. Stress stimulates the release of various hormones, which can result in elevated blood glucose levels. (2) Chronic stress in diabetes can alter the efficacy of insulin or diabetes medications in the effective control of blood sugar.
Continuous stressor stimulates CNS and results in high levels of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline which alter the glucose metabolism. Eventually, blood glucose levels become out of control even with the use of medications.
Overeating can also be compelled by stress. Therefore consuming more sugars just increases blood glucose even further. Since diabetes is a manageable disease, releasing stress is the most likely effective key.
Stress can affect the Digestive System
According to research, chronic stress can upset the normal digestive system. Stress-induced heartburn, gastric acid reflux, and impaired gastric secretions contribute to worsening digestive problems like constipation, diarrhoea, Inflammatory bowel disease (IBS) and even ulcers. (3)
“Chronic occupational stress in employees with stressful jobs, the combination of personality patterns (anxiety/depression), stress and negative emotions contribute to gastrointestinal tract (GIT) alterations. In particular, jobs that produce privation, fatigue, chronic mental anxiety and a long past history of tension, frustration, resentment, psychological disturbance or emotional conflict have been shown to produce gastric ulcers. Irritable bowel syndrome and functional dyspepsia also have significant co-morbidity with mood alterations.” (4)
Gastric ulcers caused by H. pylori bacteria become worse under chronic stress. In the worst conditions, prolonged ulceration can result in gastric bleeding and haemorrhage. That’s why releasing stress becomes even more vital in digestive problems.
Stress may Increase Injuries
Food movements can also be altered by stress impacting the gastrointestinal tract causing diarrhoea or constipation, nausea, vomiting, or stomach pain.
Chronic stress can increase the tension in muscles and prolonged stress on muscles under chronic stress lead to the inability of muscles to relax back. In this case, chronic muscle pain, especially shoulder muscle pain becomes a problem. You get more tired and fatigued following daily exercises or work routines. Stress can even cause spinal pain, headaches, and stiffness of muscles. People then mask the pain using traditional painkillers but the cause is still present, which is stress. In the case of diabetes, neuropathic pain becomes even worse under stress.
Chances of chronic muscle injury and bone injury are high if a person is under constant stress leading to arthritis, osteoporosis, and uric acid retention in joints, shoulder joint. Releasing stress using anti-depressants and tranquillizers may not be a real deal because of their harmful side effects and inability to treat the cause of the stress.
“According to research, Stress-related psychiatric disorders, including depression and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), are highly prevalent disabling illnesses with limited treatment options and poorly understood pathophysiology. Chronic pain is a widespread pathology afflicting 20%–30% of adults.” (5)
Regardless of the availability of a range of treatment options, chronic pain continues to seriously affect the quality of life for patients. Almost half of the pain-suffering individuals do not achieve adequate pain management.
The effect of stress and anxiety have a devastating impact on physical health
Stress Decreases Immunity
Although acute stress is beneficial in the stimulation of the immune system and prevention of the common cold, flu, and infections. However, chronic stress results in constant engagement of the immune system there is the chronic release of WBC’s, interleukins and immunoglobulins. Over time, the immune system weakens rendering the body unable to fight even common infections.
Stress and Children
Chronic stress increases recovery time after any illness or injury because the body’s natural healing process becomes altered under stress.
In children, particularly childhood abuse, strict parenting, boarding school, lack of communication or any negative memory may lead to ELS or early life stress in children leading to various physical health problems like cardiac diseases, respiratory diseases, and mental disorders at a young age. (6)
Moreover, chronic stress in any form like the pressure of getting grades, social life, house issues, poverty, strict parenting, abusive behavior, bullying and other sorts of negative vibes encourage the child to adapt and escape from daily life routine. This results in a child becoming aggressive, abusive, misbehaving and rebellious.
The effect of stress and anxiety on health in children according to research, continuous tension and mental anxiety also result in poor physical and mental growth in children. Consequently, the child’s academic performance also declines hence rendering more pressure on them. In some cases, suicidal thoughts also find their way in young minds to find an escape. The medical treatment does not qualify for rationale treatment of stress in children because their side effects can be dangerous and root cause will still be there.
Releasing stress via specialized treatment procedures plays a vital role in balancing the body’s natural energies. But for many children depending on their experiences, Freeze is the natural response, They block the experience in order to survive. The consequences of which manifest much later in life.
Respiratory and Heart Problems
Under chronic stress, the lungs are constantly hyperactive in order to meet the oxygen needs of each and every cell of the body-facing stress. This leads to chronic damage to tiny alveolar tubes carrying fresh oxygen to the blood. In this case, the risk of developing COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) becomes high. It silently leads to shortness of breath, emphysema, and bronchitis causing inflammation of the bronchi. Chronic damage to the lungs is often irreversible. Things become horrible for an asthma patient under chronic stress because stress induces the release of “pro-inflammatory” substances that aggravate the symptoms of asthma and in worst conditions, complete breathlessness can lead to blackouts, and damage to the brain and heart muscles as well.
Moreover, chronic stress can mimic hypertension because of constant involvement of the fight or flight response causes constriction or narrowing of blood vessels in order to maintain the blood flow to muscles. If stress is not managed, it can result in increased chances of heart attacks, strokes, and haemorrhage. People with a history of cardiac problems are more obligatory to release chronic stress.
Mental Disorders and Stress
Everyone faces stress and depression in his or her life. But under some circumstances, this stress can be deleterious to mental health.
PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder is the state of mind after an acutely stressful event that affects the “amygdala’ and “hippocampus” in the brain. In this condition, the person feels fear, anxiety, flashbacks of the same event, nightmares, suicidal thoughts, and insomnia. Although PTSD is caused by acute stress, chronic stress increases the risk of developing the disease.
Alzheimer’s disease involves the devastating loss of cognitive and motor function which is stressful in itself but can also disrupt neural circuits that mediate stress responses. Disrupting these circuits produces aberrant emotional and aggressive behaviour that causes long-term care to be especially difficult. In addition, added stress drives the progression of the disease and can exacerbate symptoms. (8)
Sexual Problems from Chronic Stress
The biggest enemy of sexual life among both males and females is stress. Chronic stress is directly linked with low libido and testosterone levels, fear of performance, erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation in men.
There is an inverse relationship between anxiety and sexual functionality. Females can also face less than normal sexual desire, vaginal dryness and itching, lack of orgasm and in some cases, chronic pain during intercourse. (9) (10)
These sexual problems are linked to chronic stress and may cause further stress and anxiety leading to poor relationships and mental breakdowns.
What’s The Solution?
No one knows where their life journey is going to take them. Many people live a relatively stress-free life, but no one escapes completely. That is why there are so many options to manage the stress symptoms that one might be advised to take on. Stress and the health issues that many do not realise have come from holding stress in the body have been a topic of much discussion for years.
Despite the choices, we make the more stress and trauma experience it is fair to say that no one can get it out of the body. But each and every one of us has the power to do that ourselves.
Our Body has The Answer!
In all the years I have been working with clients impacted by the effect of stress and anxiety from trauma, the problems in society continue to get worse. The increased use of social media has contributed to that one. Despite all the offerings and alternatives that have become available from meditation to massage, from walking to talking nothing is changing. Some treatments and therapies come for free but many more can cost a lot of money. The cost can be prohibitive. It always sticks in my mind that 6 women I worked with had spent between them £170k trying to heal. They sat before me with a pleading of hope.
All Comes back to The Psoas!
It all comes back to the Psoas, the fight-flight muscle deep in our body. The one that holds our fears and emotions. Attached to our Diaphragm and therefore impacts breathing as the body gets tighter from holding on.
When we learn to reconnect with what nature gave us all to survive – just like animals, then the problems gradually disappear and physical, mental and emotional health is restored as our body recalibrates, like a reset button has been switched on.
I have spent 8 years solely working on evolving a practice Trauma Prevention Exercise I learned in South Africa that triggers the Psoas to release. My discoveries came and continue to come from working in the long term following and supporting individuals who have suffered years with CPTSD and the effect of stress and anxiety that has dominated their life. I have witnessed profound healing where nothing else has come close.
We offer hope where there has been none. Overcome the skeptics and see lives transform. Not because we have the magic but share with everyone we work with – that they do.
We All Have A Choice
Healing doesn’t happen by itself and when life pulls us down, we have two choices – go with it and get sucked under or make that decision to change and take back control of our own well-being. Saying no to drugs and medications, addictive behaviour, and wasting time and opportunity. A totally natural response to healing just like animals can be transformational.
Let Wellbeing be your 2020 Choice
In 2020 we want to give as many as possible that choose wellness over illness the opportunity to learn something about their own body that we may have forgotten but your body hasn’t. We have Workshops coming up from January to March, you will have a great experience as you gain knowledge and insight just like others.
Start the new decade by making 2020 your year. Don’t let the effect of stress and anxiety be all you have to deal with. Start with taking control of your own well-being. Heal from the Past and Build Resilience.
We support you all the way, for we know that so much suffering though it may be part of life’s journey, we certainly do not have to carry around the negativity that comes from it.