What is Stress?
Stress is the body’s natural response to changes in our life. These changes can be positive or negative and because life involves constant change, our goal should not be to eliminate all stress as that is impossible but to eliminate unnecessary stress and effectively manage the rest.
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) recognizes two types of stress:
Acute Stress: This type of stress is short-term and is a more common form of stress. It often develops when we consider the pressures of events that have recently occurred or face upcoming challenges in the near future. For example, we may feel stressed about an upcoming work project or an examination. Acute stress will usually disappear once we meet the task. The short-term effects of acute stress include headaches, an upset stomach, as well a moderate amount of distress.
Chronic Stress: This type of stress develops over a long period and is more harmful. It occurs when we can not see a way to avoid the stressors and stop seeking solutions. For example, it can be caused by a traumatic experience or a continuous negative occurrence. Chronic stress makes it difficult for the body to return to a normal level of stress hormone activity and can go unnoticed for a while, as people can become used to feeling agitated or hopeless.
A lifestyle of frequent stress can lead to anxiety, depression, heart disease, high blood pressure, low body immunity, PTSD, sleeping difficulties, stomach upset, erectile dysfunction, etc.
Signs of Stress
Fatigue, Aggressiveness, Irritability, Frustration, Depression, Restlessness, Forgetfulness, Headaches, Muscle spasms, Nervous twitches, Chest or Back Pain, etc.
Stress Associated Behaviors
Food cravings or not eating at all, sudden angry outbursts, drug & alcohol misuse, higher tobacco consumption, social withdrawal, frequent crying, relationship problems, etc.
Medicine: Doctors will not usually prescribe medications for coping with stress unless they are treating an underlying illness such as depression or an anxiety disorder. In such cases, antidepressants will be prescribed. There is however a risk that the medication will only mask the stress rather than help resolve it. People struggling with overwhelming stress are strongly encouraged to seek medical assistance.
Stress Relieve: This includes exercise, reduction in the intake of alcohol, drugs & caffeine, a balanced diet, priority/time management, rest, constant communication with loved ones, acknowledging the stressors, etc.
Noticing the signs and symptoms of stress is the first step to taking action.
Stress Management Techniques
Removing or changing the source of stress, altering how we view stressful events, lowering the effects that stress might have on our bodies, learning alternative ways of coping, etc.
An unknown author once said, and i quote “Don’t stress the Could Haves, If It Should Have, It Would Have.”