Stress (A complete guide)

Stress

Stress is defined as the feeling of emotions or physical tension.  Any event that makes you uncomfortable or you get frustrated, angry or nervous are responsible for stress. It is the behavior of the human body to a certain challenge or demand. It is the natural defense of the body against predators and harmful dangers. It flushes the body with hormones to prepare the systems to confront danger. The human body is designed to experience stress, and react; it can be positive and can be negative.

Why and how does the human body get stressed?

At the most basic level, stress is the response of our human body to pressure from a situation or life event. Our body produces stress hormones when we encounter stress that triggers a fight response and activates our immune system. Stress becomes negative when a person faces continuous challenges without any kind of relief and relaxation. Stress becomes more and more strong, and the person becomes overworked, which can result in chronic, long-term health problems such as anxiety. 

Stress (A complete guide)

Effects of stress:

Stress that remains continuous without relief can lead to another severe condition which is known as distressed. It is a negative stress reaction and can disturb the internal equilibrium of the body, and the following problems may appear as a result:

–        Elevated blood pressure

–        Panic attacks

–        Anxiety and worry

–        Heart diseases

–        Accidents

–        Cirrhosis of liver

–        Suicide

–        Risky behaviors such as unprotected sex, gambling, excessive shopping, or abuse of drugs and alcohol

Causes of stress:

o   Death of loved ones can cause severe stress.

o   The divorce between couples.

o   Loss of a job of a hardworking person.

o   Emotional problems related to depression, anxiety, anger, grief, guilt and low self-esteem.

Symptoms of stress:

·      Loss of sexual desire

·      Frequent colds and infections

·      Insomnia

·      Pains, aches and tense muscles.

·      Chest pain and rapid heartbeat

·      Headaches

·      Low energy

·      Upset stomach

·      Dizziness

·      Acid reflux symptoms

·      Problem sleeping

·      Weight gain or loss

The main factor of stress in children is from parents.. Stress-free parents can teach their children how to live in a society with stress-free life. Following are the reasons for stress in parents which can also affect the lives of the children.

·      Always living in the past.

·      Negative approach and talk.

·      Not accepting mistakes in front of children.

·      Less communication with children

·      High expectations

·      Authoritatively speaking

·      Constantly trying to find faults in children

Stress (A complete guide)

What are the benefits of stress? 

Stress has a lot more negative outcomes but also has some advantages. A little level of stress enforces you to focus on your work rather than unnecessary activities. It can help you meet the daily challenges and motivates you. It is also a vital warning system which is producing the fight or flight response. It improves cognitive function, helps you fight off colds and sieases and makes you a tough person. 

Survey:

According to the annual stress survey, the average stress level in the United States rose from 4.9 to 5.1 on a scale from 1 to10 in 2015. The main reason for this result is employment and money. 

Facts:

Researchers have shown that stress can be good and also have adverse effects on the human body. 

–        Stress helps the body to face danger.

–        Short term stress can be helpful for achieving a certain task, but long term stress is linked to various health conditions.

–        We can prepare for stress by learning self-management tips.

Types of stress:

Stress is categorized into three main categories.

·      Acute stress

·      Episodic stress

·      Chronic stress

Acute stress:

Most commonly, stress reoccurring is usually called acute stress. This is short term and can be minimized by some effort. It is caused by thinking about the pressure of events which are recently occurred or future demands. However, if acute stress occurs, again and again, it can cause severe damage to the person.

Episodic stress:

People who usually suffer from acute stress can have episodic acute stress. A person with too many commitments and poor organization can feel episodic acute stress, and it can lead to high blood pressure and other heart diseases.

Chronic stress:

The most dangerous type of stress is chronic stress. It occurs when a person never sees any kind of way to get out of a certain stressful situation and stops seeking solutions. It can be caused by a traumatic experience in life. People with this type of stress may experience dire consequences such as suicide, strokes and heart attacks.

Tips for reducing stress

People who are suffering from stress like disease can overcome it by applying the following tips in their daily life and can live happily:

–        Always keep a positive attitude.

–        Accept that there are some events that you cannot control by yourself.

–        Exercise regularly.

–        Be assertive rather than aggressive.

–        Assert your feelings or opinions instead of becoming angry or defensive.

–        Seek treatment with a health professional trained in stress management.

–        Do not rely on alcohol and drugs.

Stress management

As stress is natural, it may seem like there is nothing you can do about stress at home or the workplace, but there are many tips and techniques to handle stress. A safe and healthy mind can perform excellent work efficiently and timely, so it is very important to manage stress. 

–  Identify the sources of stress in life.

– Practice the 4 A‘s of stress management.

–  Get moving

–  Connect to others

–  Learn to relieve stress in the moment

–  Maintain balance with healthy lifestyle

– Manage your time better

–  Make time for fun and relaxation

Stress (A complete guide)

1.    Identify Sources of stress in life:

The first step in stress management is to identify the source from where the stress is coming from. It is not as straightforward as it looks, but it is easy to identify significant stressors like the death of loved ones, getting divorced or fired from a job etc. To understand the true sources of stress look closely at your habits and attitude. Until you accept the responsibility, your stress level will remain outside your control. A procedure that is known as a stress journal which helps to identify the stress by writing the answers to these things:

o   What caused your stress?

o   How have you felt physically?

o   Are you mentally disturbed?

o   How did you act in response?

o   What did you do to make yourself feel better?

2.    Practice the 4 A’s of stress management

Four A’s of stress management are:

o   Avoid

First of all, try to avoid all unnecessary stress. Avoid People who are responsible for creating a stressful environment.

o   Alter

If you cannot avoid the situation, the second option you have alters that situation. Express your feelings instead of bottling them up. Always be willing to make compromises.

o   Adapt

The third solution is if you cannot change the stress, then change yourself by adjusting your standards and reframe problems.

o   Accept

Some sources of stress cannot be avoided. So, the final thing is, accept those things which you cannot change. Don’t try to control those things which you cannot control. Look for upside, share your feelings and learn to forgive.

3.    Get Moving

Whenever you feel stress, the last thing you probably want to do is to get up and exercise. Physical activity is a huge stress reliever. Here are some ways to do exercises daily:

o   Put some music on and dance.

o   Take your pet (animal) for a walk.

o   Walk to the grocery store.

o   Use the stairs rather than the elevator.

o   Play ping pong or any sport that you enjoy

4.    Connect to others

Building relationships is another important factor in reducing stress. This is the most common and usual way. There is nothing more calming than spending quality friends with friends, parents, relatives and others. Tips for building relationships are listed below:

o   Reach out to a colleague for help

o   Help others by volunteering

o   Have dinner with friends

o   Call or message an old friend

o   Schedule a meetup plan

o   Watch movies in the cinema together

5.    Make time for fun and relaxation

Do something daily that you enjoy the most for keeping the mind fresh. Don’t let the hustle and bustle of life get you to forget to take care of yourself. Nurturing yourself is a necessity; it is not a luxury. Take up relaxation practices by performing yoga or deep breathing to activate the relaxation response of the body.

6.    Manage your time better

Time plays an important role in managing stress. When you are too busy in your daily routine, you cannot manage time for relaxation. Do not over commit yourself, always prioritisz tasks. Use appropriate strategies like breaking projects into small projects and converting these small projects into subproblems and then try to resolve each problem wisely. This is a process that takes less time.

7.    Maintain balance for a healthy lifestyle

In addition to exercise, diet is also an essential factor. Eat a healthy diet and reduce caffeine. Avoid alcohol, cigarettes and drugs. Get enough sleep because the tired feeling will increase your stress level.

8.    Learn to relieve stress in the moment

The fastest way to reduce stress is by taking a deep breath and use your senses. The key to quick stress relief is to discover new things and unique experiences that work best for you.

Stress (A complete guide)

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about stress: 

1.    What are the common signs of stress?

Some of the physical signs of stress include low energy, headaches, upset stomach (diarrhea, constipation, nausea), muscle tension, chest pain, and insomnia. 

2.    How can I reduce stress?

Here are some ways to reduce stress:

-Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and smoking cigarettes

-Get more physical activity

-Get more sleep

-Try relaxation techniques

-Talk to someone

-Keep a stress diary

-Manage your time 

3. How does exercise reduce stress? 

Exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain that elevate the mood and alleviate pain. 

4. What is the number one cause of stress?

Financial problems are the top cause of stress in the united states, according to the American Psychological Association (APA). In a 2015 survery, 72% of Americans reported that they were stressed about money at least some time in the previous month. 

 

Want to learn more about stress? Try these recommended readings!

The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook

This helpful workbook gives step-by-step techniques for calming the mind and body in this overstimulated world. It gives tips to help integrate healthy relaxation habits into every day life no matter how busy you are. This book also helps you explore what your stress triggers are how to create a personal action plan to manage them.  

The Mindfulness Journal: Daily Practices, Writing Prompts, and Reflections for Living in the Present Moment

As described above, journaling is a great way to give yourself a stress release. Whether you are dealing with mental health issues, heartbreak, a problem at work, or any other life stressor, this journal is for you. This Mindfulness Journal can easily be added into your daily routine and can serve as an outlet for stress-reduction that will help you appreciate every single day and moment. It includes 365 daily writing prompts divided into 52 weekly mindfulness topics. The prompts are extremely unique, fun, and engaging, so you will never get bored while journaling. Additionally, each prompt is on its own separate page so you will have more than enough room for reflection and to write down all of your thoughts, big or small. Although it is suggested to journal once a day, you can spend as much or as little time as you want on each prompt. 

References 

Stress Symptoms. WebMD. 2020 

Dealing with Stress-Ten Tips. Skillsyouneed.com. 2020

Causes of Stress. WebMD. 2020 

The Main Causes of Stress. VeryWellMind. January 19th, 2020 

Stress (A complete guide)

Aura Des los Santos

Aura Des los Santos is a Clinical Psychologist with two masters degree in Education. One focused in Higher Educacion and the other in the research of Psychology of Education. Her experience is focused on working depression, anxiety and personal development. She frequently writes articles in the area of psychology, education, travel and general culture.