You’ve had an overwhelming week at work filled with deadlines, stress, and conflict, followed by day after day when everything seemed to go wrong; you had a fender bender after work, were late picking up the kids from school, and missed an important appointment, for example. Your temper has flared more than once, and you end the week feeling defeated. You suffer feelings of inadequacy and overall negativity. By the weekend, you discover you’re getting sick. You collapse into bed, miserable, and wonder how you could have picked up this virus. Unfortunately, most individuals don’t realize just how much a negative attitude can affect their health and overall well being.
Results In Stress
Having a negative attitude in life can result in many health conditions, and one of the first to creep in is stress. Although this may seem like the most obvious, it is easily overlooked. Feelings of negativity can cause a person to have self-doubt, frustration, and anger, which results in stress to the mind and body. These cause the body to become stressed, which triggers the body's natural stress response system. Also referred to as the fight or flight response, it is a normal and healthy way the body reacts to outside stress. The body naturally releases a set of hormones when stressed, resulting in a rapid heartbeat and high blood pressure. It also raises glucose levels, while altering the immune system. If the stress goes unchecked, however, the stress response system remains active, resulting in a continuous flood of adrenalin and cortisol. This can change a person's mood and behaviors, as well as lead to many other afflictions. Stress can cause a pre-existing condition to worsen, as well as create new health conditions.
Affects The Heart
When a person goes through their life filled with negative feelings towards themselves, the individuals around them, and their life as a whole, there is the potential of a domino effect. Now that the stress response system has kicked in and has been unable to shut off correctly, other systems in the body begin to have issues of their own. Stress affects the heart by causing higher cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, artery damage, and irregular heart rhythm. Studies have also shown certain groups of individuals at risk of cardiovascular disease also tend to anger more quickly than others when stressed.
Affects The Brain
Another result the body can have from a negative attitude and stress is the effect it can have on the brain. During stressful periods, the amygdala sends distress signals to the hypothalamus, triggering the flight or fight response, which then releases cortisol. During chronic stress, the sustained high levels of cortisol inhibit the brain's functionality. It can disrupt an individual's ability to socialize with others, increase the risk of mental illness such as depression, kill brain cells, and may even shrink the prefrontal cortex, the area responsible for learning and memory. Chronic stress affects the brain by altering the brains structure from damaged neural pathways, and imbalances between the gray and white matter due to the overproduction of myelin.
Effects Other Organs
Due to the increased and prolonged flood of hormones, many other areas of the body can be damaged. The effects on other organs may go initially unnoticed, and many cases are misdiagnosed. The skin can experience a variety of dermatological problems such as acne, psoriasis, and eczema. The stomach can suffer due to the inadequate absorption of nutrients from food, along with a change in gastric secretions. There are gut-related issues such as gastric ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, and reflux disease. Stress is also related to many inflammatory diseases such as lupus, Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and multiple sclerosis. The pancreas raises the amount of insulin, and if this is prolonged, can damage arteries, and lead to an increased risk of diabetes.
And now we reach the end of the negativity domino effect. Leading a negative lifestyle, and dealing with stress on a daily basis ultimately affects an individual's longevity. Stress not only causes havoc on the heart, brain, and organs, which in itself could shorten an individual's life due to complications of disease. Studies have now shown chronic stress can actually damage the DNA. Evidence shows individuals who have suffered prolonged periods of stress also have shortened telomeres, which are the protective ends of the DNA, and their length is directly related to longevity in humans.
Further studies have also shown stress can damage chromosomes and the proper function of the immune system. With a compromised immune system, the body’s natural defense system is down, rendering the body unable to fight even the simplest of viruses. In addition, the body is unable to defend itself against cancer and other diseases. Taking measures now to lead a positive life can result in a healthier, happier, and longer life.