Our body is a machine that is regulated through the actions of tissues and hormones. Thus for a machine to work properly, every element must be fine-tuned to perfection.
The mind, however, is a different matter altogether. It functions more like a computer program – it has a framework, and also relies on specific inputs and outputs to communicate.
But sometimes, something goes wrong – the framework, or the machine malfunctions. It tells the ‘YOU-ser’ that something is not right; not through words, but supplemental actions. Sometimes it’s very outward, like a fever or a cold. Then there are times when the symptoms are subtle, almost phantomlike and invisible.
The Silent Killer
Irritability, listlessness, lethargy and unprompted anger – if you relate to any two, or all of these, beware! You might be on the radar of one of the most dangerous killers in human history.
Stress has its knife to the throat of more people now, than ever before in history of humanity. It is a lethal ‘disease’ that shouldn’t be taken lightly at all. It is deceptive and discrete – hiding in the shadowy corners of the mind, springing into action the moment an individual lets their guard down. It lets other diseases in through the back door, guiding them to the gaps in the framework, and exposed wires in the machine. Diseases like depression, and chronic heart illnesses run comorbid with stress.
A Slow Poison
Stress, at its most basic and barest, is caused due to hormones. Think of these bio-chemical inputs, like lines of code, eliciting a response from the framework. Cortisol is the hormone (input) at play here, but it’s not as malevolent as one would think it is. The hormone affects the machine, by increasing its heart rate, blood pressure, glucose levels, respiration, and muscle tension – really helpful in telling the framework, that danger is afoot (for example, a predator), and evoking a fight or flight response in the process.
But lately, humans have evolved beyond the life of a simple animal. The hormone though, has followed us into the modern day. Nowadays, the life is less about playing cat and mouse, and more about sedentary surprises. Life has become privy to every buzzing and pinging notification, asking you to be curious, while being cautious at the same time.
Cortisol enters the fray and does its job. But this time, the fight and flight response is handled sitting down. There is no attacker lurking in the dark, nor is there one in immediate visibility. The actions of Cortisol make one antsy, but in futility.
This ‘anxiety’ for the inevitable, and anticipation for the unknown, wears out the body through the evolutionary process of stress – but imagine this happening every moment, every day, till death.
The Need For Awareness
Stress is lethal in large doses. It affects the majority of humanity, and is only growing with every passing year.
But surprisingly, there is a blanket taboo in tackling this malaise head on, and with due sensitivity. It doesn’t just affect the mind, but the body as well. Every other person on earth is dealing with this within their own magnitude. Open up this can of worms in your circle, and you’ll see the dams burst with shocking responses and revelations.
Tackling stress as a community really makes a difference. The first step to take though, is acceptance.