“The truth is that stress doesn’t come from your boss, your kids, your spouse, traffic jams, health challenges, or other circumstances. It comes from your thoughts about your circumstances.”
Years ago, the antacid, Rolaids had this tag line, “How do you spell relief?” “R-O-L-A-I-D-S”
Back in the early eighties a sibling was experiencing severe stomach problems. Eating usually ended up with severe pain, even with prescribed medication the issue didn’t subside.
Finally, they went to the family doctor, he made arrangements for a specialist to see if there was something very wrong with the stomach. Well, the day arrived and the specialist met with my sibling. He had some tests runned, even x-rays. Yet, he could not find anything that stood out to be the cause of the discomfort. He then asked, “what is eating you”? No, he did not ask what my sibling was eating, but rather, in paraphrase, what is bothering you.
American Psychological Association
According to the American Psychological Association, stress can trigger multiple things in the human body.
- Musculoskeletal system – When the body is stressed, muscles tense up. Muscle tension is almost a reflex reaction to stress—the body’s way of guarding against injury and pain.
- Respiratory system – The respiratory system supplies oxygen to cells and removes carbon dioxide waste from the body. Air comes in through the nose and goes through the larynx in the throat, down through the trachea, and into the lungs through the bronchi. The bronchioles then transfer oxygen to red blood cells for circulation.
- Cardiovascular system -The heart and blood vessels comprise the two elements of the cardiovascular system that work together in providing nourishment and oxygen to the organs of the body. The activity of these two elements is also coordinated in the body’s response to stress. Acute stress—stress that is momentary or short-term such as meeting deadlines, being stuck in traffic or suddenly slamming on the brakes to avoid an accident—causes an increase in heart rate and stronger contractions of the heart muscle, with the stress hormones—adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol—acting as messengers for these effects.
- Endocrine system – When someone perceives a situation to be challenging, threatening, or uncontrollable, the brain initiates a cascade of events involving the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which is the primary driver of the endocrine stress response. This ultimately results in an increase in the production of steroid hormones called glucocorticoids, which include cortisol, often referred to as the “stress hormone”.
- Gastrointestinal system – The gut has hundreds of millions of neurons which can function fairly independently and are in constant communication with the brain—explaining the ability to feel “butterflies” in the stomach. Stress can affect this brain-gut communication, and may trigger pain, bloating, and other gut discomfort to be felt more easily. The gut is also inhabited by millions of bacteria which can influence its health and the brain’s health, which can impact the ability to think and affect emotions.
- Esophagus – When stressed, individuals may eat much more or much less than usual. More or different foods, or an increase in the use of alcohol or tobacco, can result in heartburn or acid reflux. Stress or exhaustion can also increase the severity of regularly occurring heartburn pain. A rare case of spasms in the esophagus can be set off by intense stress and can be easily mistaken for a heart attack. Stress also may make swallowing foods difficult or increase the amount of air that is swallowed, which increases burping, gassiness, and bloating.
- Stomach – Stress may make pain, bloating, nausea, and other stomach discomfort felt more easily. Vomiting may occur if the stress is severe enough. Furthermore, stress may cause an unnecessary increase or decrease in appetite. Unhealthy diets may in turn deteriorate one’s mood.
There are many more areas of the human body that stress can have an effect. For the others, take time to access the article found at: American Psychological Association.
Stress On The Job
I have over the many years have found myself with different alilments all due to stress. I worked for a fast food chain restaurant. I started out as a overnight janitor. As time went by I was moved to the daytime and started training in the kitchen. Eventually, I learned how to use the headset for the drive thru in the evening hours. Another employee when there was a lull in orders started training me on the tills. Then one day the store owner approached and asked if I would like to become a breakfast manager. So, I took the position and I began to learn all the aspects and duties that came with the position. Some time later I also began to have heartburn and also stomach ailments. I started carrying antacids in my pocket. Also, I found myself seeking relief by drinking a milkshake.
The stress was really beginning to take a toll on my mental health. I went to a walk-in clinic around the corner from where I lived. After a quite lengthy discussion the doctor gave me the anti-depression prescription, Prozac. Here is a link on WebMd about Prozac: https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-6997/prozac-oral/details. This started my journey with medications to deal with my depression. Things kept getting worse and I found myself leaving the job because I could no longer cope with the extreme stress.
It was about three years later when I completely imploded finding myself taking an overdose of sleeping pills. This also was my long journey of in hospital treatment. That was in 1992! I found myself in a rotating door of in hospital treatment, released only to voluntary admissions. It was well into 2007 when my psychriatrist had me on a medication regiment that stablized me. I am still on that regiment of medications. I have not been in treatment now for fifteen years.
There is so much more that I want to explore. I am not a physician, psychiatrist, and have no formal education in any medical arena. I cannot tell anyone what they should do, nor would I tell someone which medications to take. Those decisions are between a medical or psychiatry profession and the patient. Yes, patients must be involved in their treatment plan. I appreciate my psychiatrist at the time always made sure that she spoke to her patients regualary. She also would meet with support persons, in private or with the support being there with the patient and the psychiatrist.
So dear reader, I will continue this in my next post about finding ways to bring relief to our bodies and our mental health.