Stress is a SILENT KILLER



Ah, there it is again, the word STRESS.


We know everyone hates it and usually, it's associated with many negative ramifications. But, let’s just take a step back and pause for a minute… not all stress is bad. Nope, you read that correctly. Not all stress is bad! It’s typically the mismanaged stressors that become the issue in the long run!


Stress has been a historical battle, not only a recent issue! Historically, stressors were presented differently through physical integrity, starvation, and physical hardship (Engert, Kok, Papassotiriou, Chrousos, & Singer, 2017). This issue is still highly considered to be a global concern and needs to be addressed in a manner that is aimed for the correction. However, stress still comes in many shapes, sizes, intensities, and environments. Most of the time, it is unpredictable!


What is Stress?


In the early 1900s, Hans Selye defined stress as a “non-specific response of the body to any demand for change” (Boucher & Plusquellec, 2019). This definition has definitely taken a change over the years, but recently it has been defined as “a real or interpreted threat to an individual physiological and psychological integrity that results in adaptive biological and behavioral responses” (Boucher & Plusquellec, 2019).


Focus on the change to enhance adaptation. Dane Bartz


When reading the two different definitions above, the words to focus on are underlined: change and adaptive. When it comes to stress, we should focus on changing to enhance adaptation. The accumulation of stressful experiences is known as an allostatic load which can be quickly defined as the wear and tears on the body from the stressors (Boucher & Plusquellec, 2019; Ganzel, Morris, & Wethington, 2010; Sterling & Eyer, 1988). This wear and tear from stressors have shown the association of greater risk of diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and infectious diseases to just name a few (Epel et al., 2018). Therefore, it’s important to determine the actions that can solve these stressors and simply, improve quality of life.


Stress Dilemmas


In recent years, the use of technology is shown to add a source of ramified stress. Berry, Emsley, Lobban, and Bucci (2018) were able to study the use of social media and mood considerations. The use of social media was able to PREDICT low mood ratings (Berry et al., 2018). These individuals spending more time on social media by posting their feelings and venting can be a sign of reducing mood deliberations. These moods are shown to have a negative effect on overall emotions and mental health. It’s time for a real correction!


In the workplace, stress accounts for over $300 billion per year in the United States (Engert et al., 2017). Yes, $300 billion! When it comes to depression, Faye, McGowan, Denny, and David (2018) states that depression is $83.1 billion in total costs in the United States and $42 billion for anxiety. These numbers are alarming and it comes to show how much money individuals spend on the negative effects of stress or simply looking to find a solution through our current healthcare system. Our current system can be providing a better opportunity for individuals to get the help they need, but additionally, these individuals need to enforce a change on their own terms to enhance the adaptation.



The practical definition of stress aligns with psychological and physiological operations (Boucher & Plusquellec, 2019). These alignments trigger the understanding of psychophysiological mechanisms from stressors such as acute stress (short-term) or chronic stress (long-term) (Boucher & Plusquellec, 2019). As mentioned above, not all stress is bad. Although the body releases an overload of metabolic actions, the differences between acute and chronic are essential to the accumulation effect.


When examining the cortisol (secreted when stressors are presented) levels in the bloodstream, it may take up to 80 minutes before an official baseline level has been reached (Faye et al., 2018). If are not aware of what cortisol is, it is produced by the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis as an adaptive response from a stressor (Harris, Cox, Brett, Deary, & MacLullich, 2017). When a stressor is presented, cortisol levels are known to significantly increase in the bloodstream and a variety of other reactions are triggered in the process. It's important to understand that MANY biological movements take place during this time. These biological movements trigger the acceleration of dysfunctions in the body and can cause an aging effect!


Chronic stress is the prolonged exposure to stressful events that last over weeks and the individual's ability to adapt is limited (D’Amico & Gillis, 9000). When it comes to extreme overload, the brain takes on too much and chronic disorders start to form. These disorders such as psychiatric disorders, major depression, anxiety, panic disorders, social phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder, and many more (Faye et al., 2018). Of the stated psychological disorders, major depression was ranked as the fourth leading contributor to the global burden of disease (Faye et al., 2018). The fourth leading contributor! Wow!


Beyond the information mentioned above about physiological and psychological imprints from stressors, psychosocial factors are highly associated with stress vulnerability and resiliency (Faye et al., 2018). When examining the vulnerability of disorders, other factors such as genetic predisposition, heritage, environmental factors, prior life experiences, or illnesses become an association beyond just standard personal physiology and psychology (Faye et al., 2018). However, the power of the mind can go a long way. Just because it's in one's "DNA" doesn't provide removal of correction or change!


Below is a great statement by Dr. Sapolsky from his book, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers.


In the same way, every time you store energy away from the circulation and return it, you lose a fair chunk of the potential energy. It takes energy to shuffle those nutrients in and out of the bloodstream, to power the enzymes that glue them together (into proteins, triglycerides, and glycogen) and the other enzymes that then break them apart, to fuel the liver during that gluconeogenesis trick. In effect, you are penalized if you activate the stress-response too often: you wind up expending so much energy that, as a first consequence, you tire more readily – just plain old everyday fatigue (Sapolsky, 2004).

In summary of Dr. Sapolsky's statement, when the body transitions from a non-stressful state to a stressful state, it requires an abundance amount of energy. Although at times for the individual experiencing these situations, they might not feel the work taking place. The collected energy utilized throughout the body starts to add up. It might take a few days or years before the individuals start feeling the negative impacts of these dramatic changes. These dramatic changes result in fatigue, thus resulting in biological anomalies that can be catastrophic or just simply disastrous to the human body.


If an individual is highly fatigued throughout the day, they should start considering the amount of stress their taking in. It might be too much! Fatigue in many cases is overlooked, it doesn't really get the attention it should! It might be the stress one is taking in and their bank is running low. Running low on funds to help replenish the body.


Building Resilience


When it comes to handling stress, our primary goal should be aimed to prevent any stress-induced adverse effects to maintain a superior quality of life (Toyoda, 2020). However, it’s important to know that everyone perceives and manages stressful events differently. With that said, we don’t want our recovery mechanism to fail thus leading towards increased susceptibility to greater stressors or bodily damages.



If one can increase their resilience towards stress, it can protect us against developments of negative bodily harm. Unfortunately, life will always through curve-balls and provide a barrier to the resiliency that we desire. But being prepared can help direct someone on the path of resilience! The five most common barriers to resilience are an imbalance between work and personal life, overexposure to stressful events, insufficient time and space to process negative feelings, humiliating experiences, and social isolation (Mahmoud & Rothenberger, 2019). These barriers are critical to ramifications that can be exposed when a stressful event is present.


But we may ask ourselves, how do we prevail?


7 C’s of Resilience


The 7 C’s have been used to help increase the opportunities of stressor adaptation!



When practicing an effective resilience strategy, one or more of the factors listed above should be positively influenced. If a resilience strategy is performed correctly, one of these factors should have a positive influence on the matter. It’s about finding the correct stress management technique that is PERFECT for oneself. If it provides a healthy turnover and relates to the seven C’s, then it should utilize for future events. To provide more thought on each factor here is some food for thought:


  1. Control: It’s all about the sense of one’s self-control. Utilizing the power of self-efficacy to help determine appropriate actions in stressful events. If an individual needs guidance, then providing recommended choices to help elicit the control effect.

  2. Competence: The power of experience may be overwhelming, but it allows individuals to acquire the skills needed to make the correct choices in the end. It encourages individuals to learn from these events or issues, build an appropriate path based on what they have learned from prior experiences.

  3. Confidence: Building confidence can help improve the awareness of one’s abilities. It might take a few steps to help the individual recognize their successes, but afterward, they will determine that their abilities are powerful and move onto the next challenge.

  4. Contribution: Everyone has something to contribute to this planet! It might take some time to determine what an individual’s contributions might be, but being in the position to understand that something can be given for the ones in need.

  5. Coping: A variety of coping styles can provide a beneficial effect on eventful stressors. A coping strategy should be a healthy selection to help the individual get through the situation at hand. It should be an adaptive strategy to develop superior health outcomes, no harmful effects.

  6. Connection: Allowing individuals to feel connected with their own feelings and activities is a proper way to promote engagement. Engagement in the community and the situations they are looking to protect.

  7. Character: Determining an individual’s values by their senses is essential for optimal stress resilience. Individuals need to empower the opportunities to explore themselves to view the rights versus the wrongs. Additionally, valuing the chances of self-worth!


Resilience is an active process! Dane Bartz

Overall, it will take practice to become more resilient when a stressful event is presented. Just remember resilience is an active process but a better future! A better future of less stress and a healthier body. Going back to the two words mentioned at the beginning of this article: change and adaptive. When a stressor reaches a boiling point, remember that the change you push forward will promote the adaptation that will exist. Nothing is ever completed by sitting on your A$$! You have to simply want it. An individual must be resilient to be less stressed!


As the writer of this article, I hope you can find positivity in ANY situation and come to your senses. Use those senses to empower change, a change that will adapt for the greater good. It's something I always say, life is too short to stress out. As a human, I want to live a ravishing life without any complications. At least the complications that I can control! Plan for the future, but be prepared when life throws a curveball because sometimes that situation might be a strike and you need to be ready to hit that home run. Now go ahead and walk yourself to home plate and get the win!



References:

  1. Berry, N., Emsley, R., Lobban, F., & Bucci, S. (2018). Social media and its relationship with mood, self-esteem and paranoia in psychosis. Acta psychiatrica Scandinavica, 138(6), 558-570. doi:10.1111/acps.12953

  2. Boucher, P., & Plusquellec, P. (2019). Acute Stress Assessment From Excess Cortisol Secretion: Fundamentals and Perspectives. Frontiers in endocrinology, 10, 749-749. doi:10.3389/fendo.2019.00749

  3. D’Amico, A. P., & Gillis, J. (9000). The influence of foam rolling on recovery from exercise-induced muscle damage. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, Publish Ahead of Print. Retrieved from https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Fulltext/publishahead/The_influence_of_foam_rolling_on_recovery_from.95766.aspx

  4. Engert, V., Kok, B. E., Papassotiriou, I., Chrousos, G. P., & Singer, T. (2017). Specific reduction in cortisol stress reactivity after social but not attention-based mental training. Science advances, 3(10), e1700495-e1700495. doi:10.1126/sciadv.1700495

  5. Epel, E. S., Crosswell, A. D., Mayer, S. E., Prather, A. A., Slavich, G. M., Puterman, E., & Mendes, W. B. (2018). More than a feeling: A unified view of stress measurement for population science. Frontiers in neuroendocrinology, 49, 146-169. doi:10.1016/j.yfrne.2018.03.001

  6. Faye, C., McGowan, J. C., Denny, C. A., & David, D. J. (2018). Neurobiological Mechanisms of Stress Resilience and Implications for the Aged Population. Current neuropharmacology, 16(3), 234-270. doi:10.2174/1570159X15666170818095105

  7. Ganzel, B. L., Morris, P. A., & Wethington, E. (2010). Allostasis and the human brain: Integrating models of stress from the social and life sciences. Psychological review, 117(1), 134-174. doi:10.1037/a0017773

  8. Harris, M. A., Cox, S. R., Brett, C. E., Deary, I. J., & MacLullich, A. M. J. (2017). Stress in childhood, adolescence and early adulthood, and cortisol levels in older age. Stress (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 20(2), 140-148. doi:10.1080/10253890.2017.1289168

  9. Mahmoud, N. N., & Rothenberger, D. (2019). From Burnout to Well-Being: A Focus on Resilience. Clinics in colon and rectal surgery, 32(6), 415-423. doi:10.1055/s-0039-1692710

  10. Sapolsky, R. M. (2004). Why zebras don’t get ulcers: Third edition. New York : Owl Book/Henry Holt and Co., 2004.

  11. Sterling, P., & Eyer, J. (1988). Allostasis: a new paradigm to explain arousal pathology. In Fisher S and Reason J. Handbook of Life Stress, Cognition, and Health (pp. 629–649.). John Wiley & Sons.

  12. Toyoda, A. (2020). Nutritional interventions for promoting stress resilience: Recent progress using psychosocial stress models of rodents. Animal science journal = Nihon chikusan Gakkaiho, 91(1), e13478-e13478. doi:10.1111/asj.13478


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