“Stress” itself may appear to be a short word, but the impact it casts on a human life is pretty huge. It can simply be defined as the disturbed emotional and physical well-being of an individual due to different external forces. Moreover, the phenomena can strike anybody, regardless of their age or gender, at any point of their life without making a prior announcement. The causes and symptoms for each person however are likely to differ as per their situation.
How many times have you felt stressed? Have you ever been able to identify the triggers your stress? Do you know of effective ways of coming out of a stressful situation? In this article, we strive to guide you about everything you need to know about stress. Read on to enlighten yourself!
Table of Contents
- 1 TYPES OF STRESS
- 2 CAUSES OF STRESS
- 3 SYMPTOMS & CONSEQUENCES
- 4 NATURAL STRESS BUSTERS
- 5 VERDICT
TYPES OF STRESS
Generally, stress can be can be categorized as being of three types. Have a look!
This is the most common type of stress and which result from the daily pressures of life. It can actually be thrilling but ends up in exhaustion, and eventually leads to certain short term symptoms such as irritability, headache, dizziness, bowel disorders, etc. For example, a long road trip may seem exciting at first but you may end up wishing for it to end soon, or you may be working on an interesting project but experience acute stress as the deadline nears. Basically, acute stress occurs for a short time period and doesn’t do too much of damage. It is controllable.
If you begin to experience acute stress on a frequent basis, it transforms into episodic stress. It is more common in those who individuals who tend to make unrealistic demands out of themselves and get stressed out in the attempt to meet those self-inflicted goals. People who are overly competitive suffer more from this type of stress and are thus seen to be more hostile, aggressive, ceaseless worried when it occurs. They also experience persistent symptoms of acute stress and may suffer from coronary heart diseases as well.
This form of stress is completely opposite to acute stress. It holds no thrill or excitement and is instead very unhealthy as well as dangerous. Chronic stress is the most extreme form and it has huge negative impact on a person’s mind, body and spirit. Continuous long term exposure to stress factors like traumatic experiences, relationship conflicts, poverty and chronic illnesses can bring about this type of stress. The accumulated stress levels can also lead an individual to fatal consequences.
CAUSES OF STRESS
Stress can be triggered off by both external and internal factors revolving around an individual’s life. It can occur due to different life events that are unavoidable. Moreover, no two persons face equal levels of stress for the same situation. In fact, what may be stressing to one person might have no affect on the other. Here’s a list of the most common causes of stress:
There are several issues on an individual’s personal front that may bring on some serious stressors. These include poor dietary habits and nutritional status, lack of sleep and rest, emotional well-being, the excitement and anxiousness of becoming a parent, organizing a complicated event like a wedding or group holiday, overburden of household chores, as well as illness and injuries.
Relationships play an important role in everyone’s life, and if everything’s not in harmony, you are inclined to get upset and stressed. Going through a break-up or getting divorce is quite stressing, and so are difficult relationships with parents, siblings, friends, or one’s own children. Sometimes, getting married too can be stressing if the marriage is happening against your will or if you are panicking about everything going wrong on the event day.
Too much pressure of studies and approaching exam can be very stressing, and same goes with long-term unemployment, starting a new job, deadlines at work, fear of public speaking and organizational politics. Losing a good job, or job opportunity, and even retirement can cause you stress thinking about how you will manage finances and what will you do sitting idle at home. There are a number of challenging situations one has to face.
If you are stuck in poor living conditions, the issue of homelessness, or lack of security in your existing place of accommodation, it is only natural to get stressed out. Problems with neighbors can also be very stressing and at times shifting from one house to another or moving to a new country altogether is also major stressor, especially if the sole responsibility is on your shoulders.
We all want to be financial strong don’t we? Just imagine how much stress poverty can cause someone. Being surrounded by debts is also a major stressor as you will be continuously worrying about how to settle them at the earliest. Financial responsibility can be very overwhelming and times of uncertainty only add to the stress.
On the whole, there might only be one thing at a moment that could be causing you stress, or you could be facing stress because of a build-up of unrelated pressures of life. It all depends on how you perceive a situation, the amount of support you have to deal with that situation and your resilience towards it.
SYMPTOMS & CONSEQUENCES
Although most people have the perception that stress only affects the brain, there are other areas of the body that might suffer too, depending on the stress levels. These include the muscles and joints, heart, stomach, pancreas, intestines and the reproductive system as well. Let’s have look at the most common symptoms of stress so as to make sure we recognize them when they occur.
- Anxiousness or Nervousness
- Feeling suicidal
- Shallow breathing
- Muscle tension
- Headache or migraines
- Loss of appetite
- Chest pain
- Poor bowel movements
- Indigestion and heartburn
- High blood pressure
- Loss of concentration
- Decreased sexual function
If not controlled at the soonest, stressful situations can cause these general symptoms to worsen and consequently lead to adverse medical conditions such as weakened immune system, heart diseases, depression, deteriorating skin conditions, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.
NATURAL STRESS BUSTERS
Stress is a mental health issue and not really a medical diagnosis. You won’t ever find a specific treatment for it, although some doctors are quick to recommend powerful medicines to combat with stress, it is best to avoid them as they some with severe side effects which also include personality changes in some cases. It is however recommended to consult a general physician for a medical condition that is an outcome of prolonged stress.
A better way to cope with the signs of stress are to try out different natural treatments and see what works best for you. Wondering what these methods could be? Scroll on to find out!
The first and foremost step you can take towards eliminating stress from your life is to build emotional resilience against it. This basically refers to the ability to bounce back from stressful scenario without causing n instability to your mental wellbeing. It is something that can be achieved be everyone only if they are willing. For this you can make some changes to your lifestyle like striving for work-life balance, making time for friends and family, finding support, tending to interest and hobbies and giving yourself a break whenever it’s needed. It is also important to take care of your physical health by eating and sleeping better as well as by staying active.
Very often, we get stressed mainly because we are running short of time to complete some important task. The easiest way to cope with this is to practice effective time management skills. Set smaller and achievable target and organize your time after setting priorities as to which task has to be completed first and how much effort has to be put in it. Don’t overburden yourself by trying to do too much at once and seek help if necessary. This will eventually enable you to feel more in control of the work you are pursuing as well as facilitate better handling of pressure.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
CBT can be done under the guidance of a trained professional who helps you become more aware of your feelings and thought patterns in order to deal with stress. You are made to identify your trigger points and the positive actions you can take to overcome them one by one. The purpose of this therapy is to examine the things you think and the things you do as a result of those thoughts and then find ways to stop the cycle of negative thinking in order to achieve positive behaviors instead.
When stressed, give yourself a little space to breathe and focus completely on the present moment. How? By practicing mindfulness! This technique emphasizes on flushing out the negative thoughts from your mind and paying attention instead to what is happening in your surroundings, your body and mind in a non-judgmental way so that you can differently towards the stress. This way, you will also be able to gain more enjoyment from the whole scenario by feeling more connected and finding space between your thoughts and actions. Furthermore, mindfulness will also help you feel calmer and kinder towards your own self as well as others.
Spend a lot of time with mother-nature, that’s what ecotherapy is all about. Spending time in green spaces, be it for exercising, doing crafts, gardening, talking a stroll, cycling or simply enjoying the views, can really improve your wellbeing and lift your spirit. Connecting with nature has a lot of health benefits, and especially for mental health. You can do it on your own in both rural as well as urban settings such as parks and gardens or farms and woodlands. Let some sunshine into your mind and see how it shines through the dark fog created by stress!
Complementary therapies include yoga, meditation, acupuncture, aromatherapy, massage, and reflexology, and are very effective in reducing the symptoms that are associated with mental health problems, stress being one of them. Yoga combines breathing exercises with different physical postures and meditation to alleviate stress and sooth the mind, whereas acupuncture is a proven stress buster which calls for the insertion of needles at specific points of the body to manipulate its flow of energy.
Massage helps to improve blood circulation and promote feelings of calmness and contentment. It also relieves muscle tensions and leads to better sleep, and can be done together with aromatherapy which uses essential oils to improve health and mental wellbeing. Reflexology is also a good option as it triggers the body’s self-healing capacity by applying appropriate pressure to reflex points on the feet and hand.
Can any natural treatment ever be complete by a few herbal remedies? Not really. Stress too can be reduced to a good extent by a few of nature’s gifts. For example, lemon balm is known to have positive effects on one’s mood and can provide relief from stress and anxiety as well as boost alertness. The best way to consume it is in tea form. Chamomile tea too has endless benefits on mental health. It calms nerves, reduces stress, treats insomnia and relaxes muscles. Besides, it also improves digestion and is good to soothe headaches too. Another one is lavender, a flower whose smell provides quick relief from anxiety and stress. Keep lavender oil handy and diffuse just a few drops of it in the bath or the air whenever you feel stressed out.
Unfortunately, stress is a huge reality of life. It will always be around for one reason or the other and the only way out is to learn to deal with it smartly rather than panicking and making matters worse in terms of health conditions. Moreover, it is noted that people who have a greater tendency to become stressed frequently often take up unhealthy habits such as excessive smoking, drugs and alcohol which only leads to further destruction of their health and behavior. There are a lot of options to help with stress management, but the implementation and effectiveness of each is totally dependent on the willingness and ability of a stressed individual to make the effort. So are you willing to free yourself from stress? Begin today!