Medically, it has been established that chronic symptoms of anxiety and stress can crumble our body`s immune system. Irrespective of the nature of the causes of stress—real or perceived—our subconscious mind reacts with the same body response by releasing stress hormones equal to the degree of our fear, worry or sense of threat.
It brings about changes in the body`s biochemical state with extra epinephrine and other adrenal steroids such as hydrocortisone in the bloodstream. It also induces increased palpitation and blood pressure in the body with mental manifestations such as anger, fear, worry or aggression. In short, stress creates anomalies in our body`s homeostasis. When the extra chemicals in our bloodstream don`t get used up or the stress situation persists, it makes our body prone to mental and physical illnesses.
For example, imagine a secretary in an office. Her boss comes in, angry and furious. He starts blasting the secretary for no apparent reasons. Now, her activated adrenaline cycle would tell her to flee or fight. Her senses become acute, muscles tighten, heartbeats and blood pressure increase and brain activity speeds up.
She would probably like to walk out or alternatively, turn around and punch him in the face. But she does neither, for to do so might mean losing her job. So what follows? She burns up a lot of her body energy without achieving anything. At the end of the day she would be left mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted—classic symptoms of anxiety and stress. It can happen to anybody from a high profile businessman to a student, an executive or a homemaker. All are burning out their energies to defend themselves from their real or perceived causes of stress.
Anxiety is a general term for several disorders that cause nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worrying. These disorders affect how we feel and behave, and they can manifest real physical symptoms. Mild anxiety is vague and unsettling, while severe anxiety can be extremely debilitating, having a serious impact on daily life.
New medical research has established that prenatal stress could significantly influence development of the brain and organization of behavior in fetus.
Researchers explain that because stress affects many of the body`s systems— nervous, cardiovascular, endocrine and immune— there is good reason to believe that severe emotional stress could cause defects in the fetus, especially during the first trimester of pregnancy when development occurs at the fastest rate.
Stress & Aging
Aging is a natural and gradual process, except under extreme circumstances such as stress or grief. The constant stressors or stress conditions result in a loss in neural and hormonal balance. This loss of balance will cause increased oxidative damage accelerating aging in our body. That`s because, chronic disturbances in body homeostasis ultimately affect our hormone secreting glands, cell repair and collagen in our skin and connecting tissues. Immune and neural degenerative diseases prevent this otherwise inevitable process from following the normal and healthy course of events.
Stress & Pets
We often remain oblivious to the idea that pets—animals and birds— also suffer from stress. Pets are extremely sensitive to their surroundings and are known to develop emotional bonding with their owners as well as fellow pets. `Change` triggers stress in animals the same way it triggers stress in humans. Health conditions also affect the pets` psychological state.
Conditions such as illnesses, travel, breeding, separation from owner, shifting, addition or loss of a family member or another household pet, can cause stress in animals. In such cases, pets become extremely bored or show symptoms of severe stress such as fear, anxiety and restlessness.
The exact cause of GAD is not fully known, but a number of factors -- including genetics, brain chemistry and environmental stresses -- appear to contribute to its development.
Genetics: Some research suggests that family history plays a part in increasing the likelihood that a person will develop GAD. This means that the tendency to develop GAD may be passed on in families.
Brain chemistry: GAD has been associated with abnormal levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters are special chemical messengers that help move information from nerve cell to nerve cell. If the neurotransmitters are out of balance, messages cannot get through the brain properly. This can alter the way the brain reacts in certain situations, leading to anxiety.
Environmental factors: Trauma and stressful events, such as abuse, the death of a loved one, divorce, changing jobs or schools, may lead to GAD. GAD also may become worse during periods of stress. The use of and withdrawal from addictive substances, including alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine, can also worsen anxiety.
Home Remedies for Anxiety
Before seeking the medical assistance of a doctor, some bouts of anxiety are treatable at home with remedies including the following:
For centuries, tea has been used to treat and cure a variety of medical mishaps, including anxious behavior and stress. A variety of choices containing components that aid in the reduction of tension and calm the mind, body, and soul include chamomile, cloves, lavender, orange blossoms, and thyme.
Enter a therapeutic wonderland when you use aromatic essential oils (courtesy of hundreds of different plants, herbs, and flowers) that encourage physical and psychological wellness.
Some individuals have been able to overcome bouts of anxiety by transporting back to a time where things were much simpler. Dig deep into your repertoire of happy childhood memories to uncover Grandma’s freshly baked chocolate chip cookies or the scent of your favorite meal in the summertime. The nose is a powerful tool that can help lessen your fears and create a more relaxed sense of self. It can also stop a panic attack in its tracks. The Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago suggest using baby powder, an odor that seems to strike a chord with many.
Staying active is a great way to combat the symptoms of anxiety, as many people experience a rush of adrenaline that only creates damage when left stagnant. Burn off that extra adrenaline by embracing the benefits of exercise. Do a couple of jumping jacks, walk around the backyard, climb up and down the stairs, or hit a piece of home exercise equipment (like a treadmill or elliptical).
Many people are able to calm down their anxiety when after learning certain breathing techniques. Deep diaphragmatic breathing is best accomplished when you keep your chest and shoulders in position while slowly expanding and contracting your stomach region.
Anxiety and caffeine usually don’t mix, so to avoid common symptoms – you may want to limit your intake of caffeine by weaning off of the coffee, tea, chocolate, and Coca Cola.
Boost your intake of vitamins by reaching for the following supplements: calcium, magnesium, and B-complex.
Avoid Refined Sugars and Carbs:
When it comes to your diet, choose foods that are low in sugar and contain a healthy dose of whole grains.
If you are prone to anxiety attacks, it is suggested to lessen your use of artificial sweeteners, such as Splenda, Nutrisweet, and Equal.