When is Stress Harmful?

My Son in Law, (Daniel Elmore) and I have a lot in common and we like to talk about these things. I’ve asked him to write up his thoughts on ‘Stress’ so I can pass them along. Here are his thoughts…

When you work to increase your bodily health, one very important area that is often overlooked is the mind. Your mental well-being can affect your bodily health in many ways. One area of mental health that speaks out to me is stress; it affects everyone and has huge implications if overlooked. There are two main types of stress, acute and chronic. Acute stress, though important, is not where my focus is going to be. I will focus instead on chronic stress, which has been shown to be the source of many physical problems we see in our lives.

Stress 2Why do we have stress? Every animal in the world experiences stress, and that stress is caused by a life threatening situation.  An example would be if a zebra realized that a lion was about to attack, instantly their body goes into stress mode. The bodies stress response is the same between humans and animals, blood pressure rises, adrenaline is released, eye movement is increased and many others, but the most important of all of these effects is that the immune system STOPS. The stress response works to save its life, without its life there is no need for an immune system.  If the zebra gets away from the lion, then stress mode turns off, the immune system starts back up, and the animal goes on living as it did before.  The big issue is that we as humans have an incredibly hard time getting out of our “stressful” life. When we have chronic stress for periods of time, our immune system can fail and we can get sick. Studies show that individuals, who live higher stressed lives, get sick more often, have more aches and pains, and the list goes on. The list of effects reaches out to obesity, where stress causes your body store fat in the abdomen.

Stress 3Being stressed isn’t bad, and sometimes is needed, but the chronic stress is where the problems with our physical health begin. I have mentioned some of the effects above, however one other major effect of chronic stress can only been seen under a microscope.  Telomores are the “caps” on the ends of our chromosomes, and their job is to prevent chromosomal deterioration. Someone who has high levels of chronic stress can experience chromosomal deterioration, which is a substantial loss of telomeres. The loss of these telomeres can cause serious aging problems, where your mind and body can age at a much faster rate than someone experiencing normal levels of stress. Think as if the plastic end of your shoelaces came off, slowly your shoelaces begin to unravel; this is what happens to us over time. This is a huge impact on our body that happens in the mind.

So why is it that we find ourselves extremely stressed out by doing something as menial as driving to work? Personally, I think that we all invest too much of our lives on the wrong things. There are too many times in life that we miss because we are too stressed, and missing out on the joys of family, friends, fellowship and God are just not worth it in the end. Life’s too short, so don’t sweat it.

Martin V. Cohen, Ph.D. offers ways to manage the stress in our lives in the link below.


Much of the information on stress I received is from a documentary titled “Stress: Portrait of a killer”, the link below is to the film. It can also be found on youtube.com and on Netflix.


Guest Author “Daniel Elmore”


One thought on “When is Stress Harmful?

  1. So, if we live for long periods of time in stress – from work, finances, relationships, lack of sleep, school, OCD Disorder, or whatever the condition – then we go long periods of time without an immune system to help keep us healthy. Wow, it is important that we keep our immune systems fired up and running as much as possible. I do see studies where there are links to stress and diseases; which pretty much sums up what you are saying. Nice job! Now how about writing a post that helps people to avoid stress. 🙂

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