I’ve always thought of stress as a mildly annoying fact of life. I grew up in a house where anxiety and stress ran rampant. I love my mom to death, but she is the queen of anxiety, worry, and stress. We never leave the house without at least three versions of “Did you make sure to turn off your straightener? What about the iron? Did I unplug my curling iron? Did we shut the garage door? Did you remember to lock the door?” I’ve come to realize that asking her for advice is the wrong thing to do because she will overthink the situation, and in most cases, she will get so worried about me that she won’t eat, can’t sleep, and can focus on little else.
It wasn’t until recently that we realized just how bad stress can be. In a way, it’s almost like a silent killer. Stress, worry, and anxiety can seem harmless enough at first, but I can guarantee you that if it is not put in its place, it will destroy your health and your happiness.
My mom found that out the hard way with her blood pressure. My family has never had a history of high blood pressure, so when I got a call in high school from my mom telling me that she was at the doctor because of it, I was pretty shocked. Apparently, she had felt funny that day and went to the school nurse (she works in the school system) to find that her blood pressure was dangerously high. The principal threatened to take her to the ER himself if she didn’t go straight to the doctor, which she did.
After charting her blood pressure for a few weeks, she was permanently put on blood pressure medicine which dropped her potassium levels, so she was put on medicine for that as well. For those of you who don’t know, high blood pressure can lead to all sorts of crazy bad things such as strokes and heart attacks, so it’s definitely not something you want to deal with if it can be avoided.
Also, as I have found out with Organic Chemistry, stress can also lead to migraines….horrible, awful, annoying, won’t-go-away-no-matter-what-you-try migraines. I’ve experienced some pretty bad pain from my gymnastics days, but I literally can’t stand migraines. I was starting to get them like clockwork every Thursday night before I dropped O Chem. I quickly realized that the stress was really not worth it.
Going off of potential health problems, stress, worry, and anxiety can completely steal away your happiness and turn you into someone far from who you used to be. I’ve seen it happen with my mom, and believe me, it is not something you want to happen to yourself. Until she started getting help for it, my mom could hardly function. She had lost a ton of weight from not eating. When she did eat, she had digestive issues that caused her a lot of pain. It started causing problems with her relationships, especially with my dad. She couldn’t sleep, and her personality was far from the caring, fun, cheerful person she once was.
In short, the long term effects of stress are simply not worth it. Not to say that becoming stress free is easy, by any means. I’ve struggled with it a lot while being in college and trying to figure out my future. It’s so easy to give in and let the weight of obligations, classes, an unsure future, etc. drag you down and steal your happiness. I believe the fight is well worth the alternatives, though.