The human body is designed to experience stress and react to it. Stress can be positive, keeping us alert and ready to avoid danger. Stress becomes negative when a person faces continuous challenges without relief or relaxation between challenges. As a result, the person becomes overworked, and stress-related tension builds.

Stress levels affect health, but the effects are not immediately seen. Imbalances of cortisol and other stress-related hormones weaken health over time. Practicing stress management techniques can help minimize the effects of stress on your health.

Emotional and physical changes that happen in your life, illnesses, and environmental components such as extreme heat, cold, or altitude, and toxins cause stress. Pushing your body too hard at work or at play will soon deplete your body of the energy it needs to restore itself and result in your becoming over stressed.

Inappropriately handled stress can be devastating. It lowers our resistance and makes us more vulnerable to illness and disease. The increased inner pressure can cause our health to deteriorate resulting in a variety of serious physical problems. Stress victims can become emotional cripples and physiologically old and run down long before their time. Stress can cause a loss of not only health, but also loss of jobs, loss of families, even loss of life.

Blood pressure fluctuates with age. It gradually increases, as we grow older. It is also known to vary according to the varying hours of the day. But, it has been medically proven that emotional and psychological disturbances due to acute or chronic causes of stress precipitate high blood pressure in human beings.

Behavioral effects of tension are easier to understand. When people are under pressure, it's more likely they will turn to chemicals such as nicotine or alcohol for relief.

Chronic stress induced homeostasis changes and immune reduction, tends to affect the balance between oxidants and antioxidants in the body. Many on-going studies have found that alteration in this balance in favor of oxidants may result in pathological responses causing functional disorders and diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer's disease. It can also accelerate the aging process. For, oxidation increases electronegative constituents in body molecules mutilating the 'blue print' of the cells. Multiplication of distorted cells can set in cancer.

Stress affects the mind, body, and behavior in many ways— all directly tied to the physiological changes of the fight-or-flight response. The specific signs and symptoms of stress vary widely from person to person. Some people primarily experience physical symptoms, such as low back pain, stomach problems, and skin outbreaks. In others, the stress pattern centers around emotional symptoms, such as crying jags or hypersensitivity. For still others, a change in the way they think or behave predominates.

Stress also becomes harmful when people use alcohol, tobacco, or drugs to try to relieve their stress. Unfortunately, instead of relieving the stress and returning the body to a relaxed state, these substances tend to keep the body in a stressed state and cause more problems.

Heart disease is the number one killer of American women. High blood pressure, heart attacks, heart palpitations, and stroke may be stress related cardiovascular conditions. Some women experience changes in their sexuality and encounter various sexual dysfunctions such as loss of desire and vaginal dryness as a result of stress.

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