Effects Of Stress
It has become fashionable for people to brag about their stress levels in today's competitive society. We often hear complaints like "I'm doing the work of two people in my office" or "I'm working 80-hour weeks these days". But these "complaints" are actually worn as medals of honor that people like to display. It seems to give them a sense of self-importance when they talk about how busy their lives are. The reality is that constant exposure to high stress is not something to be proudly flaunted but a matter of grave concern. Medical evidence has shown that while a small amount of stress is good for health, higher and longer lasting levels of stress cause significant health damage.
Scientific research has conclusively proved that prolonged and increased stress levels lead to several health issues such as high blood pressure, heart disease and depression. It has also been proven that chronic stress actually shrinks the size of our brain. According to Dr. Janette Nesheiwat (www.doctorjanette.com), "High cortisol levels secreted due to stress damage and reduce the volume of the brain".
As part of evolution, our brains were programmed for the "fight or flight" response to ensure survival of the human race. That worked well when brains of cavemen faced with competition from fellow cavemen for the same source of food, triggered the "fight" response while the appearance of a saber-toothed tiger triggered the brain's "flight" response. But today's chronic stressful situations are more likely to be in the form of constantly demanding work deadlines or dealing with the illness of a loved one. The "fight or flight" response doesn't work very well in these scenarios. Hence elevated cortisol levels for prolonged periods of time are becoming all too common.
Any early warning signs of chronic stress (such as increased blood pressure or frequent headaches/illnesses) must be immediately addressed by taking stock of one's work/life balance and ensuring corrective action if this balance is skewed.