The Silent Killer and How to Effectively Manage it 

Stress is a normal physiological response to challenging situations, and it can take on many forms. The human body responds to stress by releasing a variety of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones prepare the body for “fight or flight,” a survival mechanism that has been hardwired into the human brain for thousands of years. When the body is under stress, the heart rate increases, blood pressure rises, and muscles tense up 


Stress can be classified into acute and chronic depending on the duration and it can either be negative or positive. Positive stress, is the kind of stress that comes from a challenging or exciting situation, such as a job promotion or a wedding. Negative stress, on the other hand, is the kind of stress that comes from a difficult or overwhelming situation, such as a natural disaster or a death in the family. 

Acute Stress is the most common type of stress and is typically short-lived. It is triggered by a specific event or situation, such as a job interview or a public speaking engagement. The body’s “fight or flight” response is activated, and the individual may experience symptoms such as an increased heart rate, sweating, and tension in the muscles. Once the event or situation is over, the symptoms of acute stress typically dissipate. 

Chronic Stress is long-term stress that persists over a prolonged period of time and can be caused by a variety of factors, such as a demanding job, a difficult relationship, or financial problems. Prolonged exposure to stress can lead to a host of physical and mental health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, and anxiety.  

Stress can have a wide range of effects on the body, and the specific effects can depend on the type of stress and the individual’s response to it. The effects of stress on the body are well-documented in scientific literature. Studies have shown that stress can have a wide range of effects on the body, including cardiovascular, immune, gastrointestinal, reproductive, musculoskeletal, respiratory, and cognitive and emotional effects. 

Some of the common effects of stress on the body include:

  1. Cardiovascular effects: Stress can increase heart rate and blood pressure, which can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. According to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, chronic stress is associated with an increased risk of hypertension, coronary artery disease, and heart failure. 
  2. Immune system effects: Stress can weaken the immune system, making it harder for the body to fight off infection. In a study published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, stress can disrupt the balance of the immune system, leading to increased inflammation and a higher risk of disease. 
  3. Gastrointestinal effects: Stress can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, and other digestive problems. In a study published in the journal Gastroenterology, stress can disrupt the balance of the gut microbiome, leading to an increased risk of inflammatory bowel disease. 
  4. Reproductive effects: Stress can disrupt the normal functioning of the reproductive system and can lead to problems with fertility and menstruation. In a study published in the journal Human Reproduction, stress can affect the hormonal balance of the body, leading to problems with ovulation and menstruation. 
  5. Musculoskeletal effects: Stress can cause muscle tension and pain, leading to problems such as headaches, back pain, and neck pain. In a study published in the journal Rheumatology, stress can increase the risk of musculoskeletal disorders such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. 
  6. Respiratory effects: Stress can cause problems with breathing and can exacerbate conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). According to a study published in the journal Chest, stress can increase the risk of respiratory problems, such as asthma and COPD 
  7. Cognitive and emotional effects: Stress can affect the brain and can lead to problems with memory, concentration, and mood. According to a study published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, stress can increase the risk of anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems. 


Overall, there is a wealth of scientific evidence that supports that stress can have a wide range of negative effects on the body that is why it is very important to learn how to manage stress. 


Here are some tips for breaking up with stress and taking control of your life.

  1. Identify the source of your stress: The first step in breaking up with stress is to identify the source of it. Are you feeling stressed because of work, school, relationships, or something else? Once you know what’s causing your stress, you can take steps to address it. 
  2. Develop a stress-management plan: Once you know what’s causing your stress, it’s time to develop a plan for managing it. This might include things like setting boundaries, learning to say no, and making time for self-care. It’s also important to make sure you’re getting enough sleep, eating well, and staying active. 
  3. Practice relaxation techniques: Relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, and yoga can help you reduce stress and improve your overall well-being. Consider incorporating these techniques into your daily routine to help you break up with stress. 
  4. Connect with others: Social support is crucial when it comes to breaking up with stress. Talk to friends and family, join a support group, or seek professional help if you need it. 
  5. Prioritize self-care: Taking care of yourself is essential for breaking up with stress. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, eating well, and staying active. Consider incorporating things like aromatherapy, massage, and acupuncture into your self-care routine. 
  6. Find an outlet for your stress: Finding an outlet for your stress can help you release it in a healthy way. Whether it’s through writing, art, music, or exercise, find something that helps you relax and express yourself. 
  7. Learn to say no: Saying no to things that cause you stress can be hard, but it’s important for your well-being. Set boundaries for yourself and don’t take on more than you can handle. 
  8. Seek professional help: If you’re struggling to break up with stress, don’t be afraid to seek professional help. A therapist or counselor can help you develop a stress-management plan and provide support as you work through your stress. 


Breaking up with stress can be challenging, but it’s worth it for the sake of your health and well-being. Remember to take things one step at a time, and don’t be afraid to seek help if you need it. With the right tools and support, you can learn to manage your stress and take control of your life. 


About The Author

Dr. Coco is a highly-educated and well-qualified primary care physician who graduated from the University of the Philippines Baguio with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and her Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center. She completed her three-year residency training in Family Medicine at Brokenshire Medical Center. She passed her diplomate exams in Family Medicine, given by the Philippine Academy of Family Physicians in 2018. 


Dr. Coco is dedicated to providing comprehensive and holistic care for her patients. She is a primary care physician who believes in delivering continuing comprehensive health care for all. To her, patients are not just a number as she takes time to analyse how she can improve their overall health every chance they can get. 

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