Stress and worrying are normal parts of life, and the body is designed to react to it. While stress can sometimes be positive because it can help us avoid danger and stay alert, it can be negative when no relaxation or relief is found between challenges. When it occurs without a break, stress causes people to become overworked and tense.
Stress turns into distress when it is not accompanied by relief. The condition can cause physical symptoms like upset stomach, chest pain, sleep disruptions, elevated blood pressure and headaches. Fatigue, muscle tension and diminished sex drive are other common side effects of stress. Some people with high levels of stress also experience tingling, excessive sweating, nightmares, hives, body aches, racing heart rate, hot and cold flashes and numbness in the limbs.
In addition to causing these symptoms, stress can also worsen or initiate certain diseases and conditions. Left unchecked, stress can contribute to health issues like heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
Chronic stress can cause severe psychological and physical damage to the body. Overtime, long-term stress can cause heart disease, angina and increase the risk of having a stroke. Long-term stress can also diminish the immune system, making you more vulnerable to infections such as the flu or colds. People with prolonged stress may additionally suffer from digestive issues, including diarrhea, constipation and irritable bowel syndrome. The presence of these conditions increases the likelihood of developing peptic ulcers.
Men who experience high levels of stress may have a reduced production of sperm and testosterone and may suffer from impotence. Women who frequently experience stress may have more painful periods, a reduction in sexual desire and absent or irregular menstrual cycles.
In addition to these physical effects, stress can also cause depression, anxiety disorders, aggression, apathy, guilt, an inability to focus and overwhelming sense of irritability, disappointment or loneliness.
Many people turn to food, alcohol or drugs to deal with stress, but these unhealthy coping mechanisms can actually increase stress and further damage the body. Finding a healthy way to cope with stress is the key to restoring your physical and mental health. Herbs like licorice root, kava kava, lavender, St. John’s wort and passion flower are prized for their ability to reduce stress and anxiety. These healthy, natural solutions to stress won’t cause the body any additional strain and can relieve the symptoms associated with stress so you can live in peace.