Stress – What Is Stress?

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The stress of parenting

Stress is something that all parents face. A couple might be stressed when trying for a baby, mothers go through stress during pregnancy and all parents are stressed at sometime during parenthood. Baby-Arabia has lots of articles to help you deal with stress but this article looks at what stress actually is.

What is stress?

Stress can be defines as the body’s reaction to threat and danger. For the most part it is an outmoded response in today’s world, and tends to do more harm than good. When we are stressed we release hormones designed for the “fight or flight” response that was useful when being chased by a tiger or battling with an aggressor but not so good when dealing with a toddler having a tantrum

The physiology of stress or what happens to your body when you are stressed

Stress causes a surge of hormones in your body. When your body detects stress, a small region in the base of the brain called the hypothalamus reacts by stimulating the body to produce hormones that include adrenaline and cortisol.

These hormones help you to deal with any threats or pressure you are facing – This is the ‘fight or flight’ response.

Adrenaline increases your heart rate, raises your blood pressure and provides extra energy. Cortisol, known as the stress hormone, also temporarily increases energy by triggering the release of glucose into the bloodstream, to help the person fight or run away. At the same time, other bodily functions which are not immediately needed, such as digestion, are suppressed.

The body’s response to stress usually regulates itself. As your hormone levels fall, your heart and blood pressure will return to normal.

Health effect of stress

Stress is a necessary part of human life and we need a certain amount to help us through our day. However too much stress is not a good thing and long term stress can be deadly! Stress increases the risk of a range of physical health problems including headaches, stomach upsets and high blood pressure. It can even increase the risk of having a stroke or heart attack.

As well as physical problems stress can lead to psychological problems. It can make people feel distrust, anger, anxiety and fear, which in turn can destroy relationships at home and at work. Stress also plays a key role in the development of anxiety disorders and depression.

Finally, long-term stress can seriously affect your immune system, and studies suggest it increases your chances of developing all sorts of infections as well as auto immune diseases such as arthritis.

Causes of stress

Many aspects of life can cause stress, such as money problems, work issues or difficult relationships. When a person is stressed, it can get in the way of managing responsibilities, which in turn can pile on yet more pressure. Having to cope with illness can compound these sorts of stresses.

People often feel over-stressed as a result of an event or ‘trigger’. This could be the death of a loved one, redundancy or divorce, and of course there are many triggers involved in being a parent.

Feelings of stress can occur over a short period of time or can be chronic, for example when someone is coping with long-term unemployment or is stuck in a bad relationship.

People have different ways of dealing with stress. Some situations that may be motivating to one person, could feel stressful to someone else due to their personality type.

Baby-Arabia knows that parenting can be stressful and we would recommend limiting the causes of stress and that you take steps to help you relax.