Abiding by a stress guide can help you avoid, or at the very least curtail, your exposure to stress and its potential dangers. Here, we will define stress, discuss its symptoms and long-term impact upon the body, including its influence over libido and relationships and how it affects the mind and mental state, and discuss methods individuals can employ to either rid themselves of stress or ease stress and promote relaxation.

What Is Stress?

The Ultimate Stress Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Stress & Relaxation 2Stress is defined as any type of biological, environmental or emotional factor that causes the body to feel heightened levels of tension that could manifest in a variety of physical or mental symptoms. Specific stress triggers can vary from person to person. However, common causes include health concerns, financial distress, relationship problems, grief, professional pressures and self-image issues.

The Symptoms of Stress

The continual, increased anxiety produced by stressful situations can impact almost every bodily region. That said, elevated anxiety levels commonly precipitate symptoms associated with the following internal systems:

The Digestive System

Stress may interfere with normal digestion. Associated manifestations could include appetite changes, constipation, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and cramps. In certain instances, stress can change the intestinal flora, which may also lead to numerous digestive problems.

The Hormonal System

Heightened levels of anxiety often cause the body's hormone-producing glands and organs to secrete greater quantities of these chemicals. During stressful times, the body releases what is known as "stress hormones" (such as cortisol and epinephrine), which under normal circumstances help the body adapt to tension. However, continual release of these chemicals might force specific regions of the body to work harder and operate at an expedient rate.

The Cardiovascular System

The constant release of stress hormones can elicit a faster pulse and increase blood circulation. Such occurrences place excessive pressure on the heart and blood vessels. Should these circumstances continue over extended duration, illnesses like high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes could result.

It is important to note, however, that stress will impact everyone in different ways and, in some cases, might produce certain less-known manifestations not commonly associated with tension. Some of these include a weakened immune system that leaves susceptible individuals more apt to catching colds and other infections, unexplained vision difficulties, unexplained body aches (especially in areas such as the jaw, shoulders and head) as well as disorders impacting the hair and skin. Furthermore, stress can exacerbate a host of existing or underlying medical conditions.

Stress's Impact on Libido and Relationships

In addition to precipitating increased production of stress hormones, heightened tension also often causes significant fluctuations in the systemic concentrations of many male and female sexual and reproductive hormones. Chemicals like testosterone, estrogen and progesterone are crucial to a person's sexual development, function and reproductive capabilities. Moreover, a diminished libido (sexual desire) may also be a symptom of declining reproductive hormonal levels. Overly anxious individuals may experience a variety of sexual issues that could have a carry-over effect manifesting in serious relationship problems.

Stress's Impact Upon Your Mental and Emotional State

As it does with numerous other bodily regions, stress places greater tension on brain cells. Such action could ultimately lead to a variety of mental, emotional and cognitive difficulties like anxiety disorders, depression, concentration challenges and memory loss. Some researchers also argue that stress might ultimately play a contributing role in the development of serious mental illnesses like dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

Holiday Stress

Though the festive Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons are typically a joyous time for many, for others it can be an extremely stressful period. Holiday stress can be elicited by several different factors. In certain individuals, especially those with large families or who throw gatherings at their homes, the holidays present their own set of responsibilities and expectations that can overcrowd an already full calendar. For others, particularly those who are alone, the holidays can be a time of great sadness and might precipitate an exacerbation of mental maladies such as depression.

Methods of Easing Stress

The Ultimate Stress Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Stress & Relaxation 1While it may be difficult, if not impossible to avoid stress, there are specific methods affected people can employ to reduce incidents of this malady and the associated manifestations. Some health care professionals opine that stress reduction is a two-pronged process that involves relaxing both the mind and body.

Accomplishing this task requires the stressed individual to devote time and committing themselves to engaging in activities like consuming a balanced diet, exercising, partaking in constructive activities like a mind-stimulating or relaxing hobby, staying away from potentially destructive endeavors like drinking alcohol, smoking or ingesting illicit drugs, getting enough sleep, not overextending oneself and augmenting their diet with supplements containing ingredients that can help the body to better deal with stress.

Certain natural supplements such as Macabido Men's and Women's Formulas are comprised of herbal extracts with stress-soothing properties, as well as adaptogens. Adaptogens are substances that have the ability to not only help stressed individuals cope with their circumstances but also actually adapt to the stressful surroundings.

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