We hope that title didn’t make you anxious. However, it is important to know and recognize
how stress and anxiety might be affecting you in ways you may not have realized. Stress and
anxiety can affect everything from your mood to your sexual health to your sleep.
First off, we all experience feelings of stress and/or anxiety. It’s only natural for us, as humans,
to feel things like fear and nervousness which can lead to stress and anxiety. The feelings of
unease and fear you may get when standing at a cliff are evolutionary. The fear tells us that for
our own safety, it’s better if we don’t jump off the cliff.
So, to begin with, what are stress and anxiety?
Stress is simply an unpleasant demand placed on your brain or body. This can be having too
much work to do, or running late for a flight. The demands of getting to the airport are
perceived by your body as stress.
Anxiety is often a reaction to stress. It’s a feeling of doom or dread, or extreme unease. If we
use the above example of being late, the stress of being late for your flight might become
anxiety if you start to panic about missing the flight and all the negative consequences. Anxiety
can also be brought on without a trigger.
Both stress and anxiety manifest themselves in similar ways. You may feel an increased heart
rate, dizziness, muscle tension, headaches, and many others.
But stress and anxiety can affect other things.
For example, stress and anxiety will negatively impact your sleep. When the brain experiences
stress it releases Norepinephrine (commonly known as adrenaline) and Cortisol.
Norepinephrine increases heart rate and wakes the body up. This is done because,
evolutionarily, stress is an indication of danger. Stress can trigger our “fight or flight” response,
the part of our brain that tells us whether to fight or flee a dangerous situation in order to
protect ourselves. Cortisol affects your fight or flight as well. It reduces the functions of the
body that oppose your fight or flight response… like sleepiness. If you were running away from
a bear, that would be a very inopportune time to have the desire to take a nap. This is why
many people who are feeling stressed often have a hard time sleeping.
Stress and anxiety can also affect your performance in the bedroom. In men, they may
experience decreased sex drive or even erectile dysfunction as a result of stress or anxiety. In
women, they may experience a decreased sex drive or other conditions as a result of stress and
anxiety. For example, some women may experience vaginismus due to anxiety. Vaginismus is
the involuntary contraction of the vaginal muscles. This can be so intense that penetration is
prevented. Vaginismus is not always linked to anxiety but stress and be a cause for some women. Luckily, working with a therapist or using vaginal dilators have been found to be helpful with Vaginismus.
And stress and anxiety can affect your mood. Cortisol and Norepinephrine increase irritability
and decrease rational thinking.
Stress and Anxiety are a natural but unpleasant part of life. So take some time and try to find
ways to decrease the stress and anxiety in your life. See a therapist if you need someone to talk
to. Try a new hobby if you feel you need a release. Or try removing stress stimuli like toxic
people or situations from your daily life.
Jane Silverstein is the owner of Soul Source Therapeutic Devices located in Los Angeles. She is
committed to women’s health issues and to helping women worldwide regain and/ or maintain their sexual
health. She is passionate about helping others and has always been involved in a multitude of charitable