“Stress is a reaction people have to excessive pressure or demands, and arises when an individual believes they are unable to cope.”
At one time or another, we’ve all dealt with the effects of chronic stress, from migraines and back ache to anxiety and depression. We all know that stress can impact the immune system, how often do we happen to get sick or catch a cold when we are stressed or run down. But what is not commonly understood is that stress and our response to it can also impact on the mouth, teeth, jaws and gums as well as our overall emotional and physical wellbeing. It is not possible to point to a particular dental problem and say it’s caused entirely by stress but like the rest of the body, the mouth can be affected.
Now not everyone is swinging from one major life crisis to another yet the prevalence of people stating they are stressed or are affected by stress related disorders and problems is enormous across all ages and social backgrounds. Why is this? What is going on in our lives that stress is so widespread and common? Could it be that modern life, our hectic lifestyles and how we see, deal with and perceive life, impacts on our level of stress and our ability to cope with it or not?
“Any idiot can face a crisis it’s this day-to-day living that wears you out.” (Anton Chekov)
The causes of stress that we face on a day-to-day basis are not as extreme as major life events. The day-to-day causes of stress such as those daily, minor irritations like misplacing our car keys, traffic jams, minor arguments with family/colleagues, etc could be regarded as daily hassles. Research by Lazarus and Folkman (1984), at the University of California, indicated that it was the daily hassles rather than the major life events that affected us the most. Life events do not occur every day, but daily hassles do and it’s this constant, daily frustration caused by the minor issues that cause us the most stress, because they occur so regularly and therefore can undermine our health. Think of some of the things that get under your skin on a regular basis – things like waiting in line, time pressures, lack of sleep, noise, your job, money, your kids, relationships, getting meals ready, being stuck in traffic, shopping and so on, in fact the things that simply make up life. Then consider how do you react to them?