In the run to achieve the desired lifestyle, we expose our mind and body to stress. A small amount of worry and anxiety is acceptable as it keeps us motivated.
Please beware of the fact that even everyday life challenges such as meeting deadlines, sitting in traffic, and paying bills can push anyone beyond their ability to cope up and influence or causes majority of health issues.
Stress is a common physical or psychological reaction to the everyday demands of our life thus, its complete elimination is impossible. Nevertheless, Stress management seems a realistic and attainable goal achieved through various techniques and strategies.
However, before we switch on to how to deal with stress, let us learn and recognize its causes, signs, and symptoms
What Is Stress
Stress is defined as emotional, chemical, and physical factors that cause mental or bodily unrest. Scientists define stress as a force that disrupts the balance of body functions and impairs stability. It is the response of your body to the changes in life.
Our life involves constant change at home or work and with friends, colleague, or family members. Even the pressure build-up due to death in the family, job loss, physical injury, or other unfortunate life events is natural, and stress is the body’s reaction to protect you. Stress psychology can be better understood as fight or flight reaction, which is the body’s defense mechanism to keep you energetic, focused, alert and helps you rise from the loss to meet everyday challenges.
What Causes Stress
The physical or chemical factors leading to stress include trauma, toxins, infection, injuries, or illness of any sort. The emotional causes of stress are varied and numerous. The source of stress is termed as a stressor that depends upon the individual and unique perception based on the available resources, habit, thoughts, and one’s personality traits. This is why on the one hand, any situation is mere challenging for someone but stressful for another.
The top stressful life events include retirement, death of a close one, job loss, divorce, marriage, separation, illness or injury, imprisonment, and marriage reconciliation.
Common Causes Of Stress:
External causes of stress
- Major changes in life such as marriage, new job, having a child, or shifting to new place.
- Office or school’s work such as deadlines and exams.
- Planning and organizing a complicated event
- Relationship difficulties such as breakup
- Problem with neighbors
- Too much household chores
- Being too busy or have nothing much to do
- Being caretaker to a family member or relative who need your support
- Financial issues, poverty, debt
- Responsibility and behavior of spouse, children, and family members.
Internal causes of stress
- Inability to accept the change
- Inability to accept uncertainty
- Negative self-talk
- All or nothing attitude
- Lack of flexibility
- Rigid thinking
Who Are More Susceptible To Stress
The degree of pressure an individual can handle depends on his/her physical health, interpersonal relationship, responsibility, and commitments, financial issues, expectations, social support, the number of traumatic experiences.
Stress affects people of all ages. However, certain factors increase the susceptibility to stress.
For example, people who have a social support network like those connected to some religious or other organizing groups report improved mental health and less stress in comparison to people who do not have much social contact. People, who do not get adequate sleep, are poorly nourished, and physically unwell cannot handle the pressure well. Stress may be associated with specific life transition stages. Distinct groups that report stress related to life transition stage include children, college students, teens, working parents, and females during puberty, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause. The family member providing care to the elderly or sick also experience a great deal of stress.
Effects of Stress
Stress is body’s defense mechanism that should be activated occasionally during emergency. More and more, our emergency stress system is activated, harder it becomes to shut it off and easier it becomes to trigger it on. In today’s demanding world, most of us are living in the heightened state of pressure for most of the time. Chronic stress disrupts the body systems. It upsets the digestive system, reproductive system and suppresses body’s immune response. Constant stress increases the risk of stroke and heart attack as well as speeds up the process of aging. It rewires the brain and makes you vulnerable to mental health diseases such as depression and anxiety.
The ways to manage stress differs from person to person depending on the effects of stress. The stressors are perceived differently by every person and affects each one of us uniquely. For example, you may enjoy taking care of elderly parents, but for your sibling, it may be stressful or overwhelming. One person under pressure may experience stomach upset, another may experience headache, and some may experience other symptoms.
Below is a list of commonly experienced symptoms stress overload that ranges from mild to life-threatening. Let us have a look.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Uncontrolled Stress
The dangerous thing about the stress is that you do not even realize and it creeps up on you. Eventually, you get used to it and start feeling familiar, and you are unable to notice how it is affecting you and eventually takes a heavy toll. This is why it is very important to be aware of the common signs and symptoms of uncontrolled stress.
1. Cognitive symptoms
- Inability to concentrate
- Poor judgment
- Memory problems
- Racing thoughts
- Constant anxiety
- Constant worrying
2. Emotional symptoms
- General unhappiness
- Mood swings, irritability, or anger
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Other mental health problems
3. Physical symptoms
- Headache and body aches and pains
- Indigestion, diarrhoea, or constipation
- Nausea and vomiting
- Chest pain
- Rapid heart rate
- Loss of libido
- Frequent colds or flu
- Sleeping too much or insomnia
- Eating more or eating less
- Nail biting, pacing
- Withdrawing from society
- Neglecting responsibilities
- Alcohol or drugs abuse.
Health issues caused or influenced by stress
- Chronic pain
- Autoimmune diseases
- Skin condition such as urticaria and eczema
- Sleep issues
- Excessive weight gain for weight loss
- Reproductive and fertility issues
- Memory and thinking problems
Stress can worsen the intensity of health issues such as
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Multiple sclerosis
Mild stress can be sometimes beneficial, but living with high level of pressure breaks your emotional equilibrium, hampers your physical health, and put your entire will be at risk. To some extent, it may seem like you can do nothing to bring your life back on track; nevertheless, there are steps to relieve stress. There is a lot more under your control than you think. Through effective stress management, you are able to break the stress upload to live a more productive, healthy, and happier life.
How To Deal With Stress
The amount of stress one experiences depends on their perception, past experiences, thought processes, and self-esteem. Thus, managing stress depends on several factors such as:
- Emotional resilience
- Experience in handling a stressful situation
- Support received by the family members, relatives, and friends
- Amount of pressure
The ultimate goal of stress management strategies is to bring back the balance between life, work, relationship, fun, and relaxation.
Below are the steps to relieve stress and regain control over your life.
10 Simple Ways To Manage Stress
1. Identification Of The Source Of Stress
To deal with stress, it is imperative to identify the cause. It is pretty easy to identify common stressors such as moving, breakup or divorce, changing job, or illness. Sometimes many small pressure builds up the stress, making it difficult to explain or recognise the cause. Do not overlook your feelings and thoughts that contribute to everyday pressure levels.
To identify the stressors, you need to observe your attitude habits and excuses closely. Start with writing a stress journal.
2. Avoid Stressors
A lot of stressors are unnecessary and can be avoided. It will help if you choose to address a situation depending upon how important it is. Avoid people who constantly cause anxiety and worry in your life; if you cannot end a relationship with such people, limits spending time with them. If watching too much screen, reading about diseases or watching the news makes you anxious and tense, limit your screen time. If you find some household chores unpleasant, ask other family members to help or keep a helper. In short, you need to take control of your environment and learn to say no in your professional and personal life, knowing your limits. Try to distinguish between the work you should do and what you must do and then decide. To reduce stress in your everyday life, it is always better to schedule your responsibilities and daily tasks. Analyse the schedule and drop the tasks that are not necessary.
Whenever you feel pressure, note it down in your journal. Regularly update the journal to see the pattern and common themes. Write down what you think is the cause of stress and what you feel both emotionally and physically. Also, note down your response and the things that made you feel better.
3. Alter The Stressors
Alter the situations you cannot avoid by changing your daily life tasks and how you communicate with others. If something is bothering, talk about your concerns in a respectful way. If you will not speak up your feelings, it will build up resentment and increase the pressure level. If you want someone to change their behaviour for you, then be ready to do the same to find a happy middle ground or solution.
4. Reschedule Your Daily Routine
Find a balance between your work, social life and family life. Give time to physical exercise, meditation, hobbies and other stress buster activities.
5. Adapting To Stressful Situation
If you cannot avoid or alter the stressors, adapt to the situation by changing your attitude and expectation. Reframe your problems, giving them a positive perspective. Ask yourself is the situation or person or the task is worth taking pressure. Is it fruitful in the long run? If the answer is no, focus your energy and time elsewhere.
One of the most significant causes of stress is perfectionism. Stop trying to be a perfectionist and set realistic expectations and standards for yourself as well as others.
The best way to adapt to any situation is to practise gratitude. Appreciate what you have in your life rather than focusing on what you do not have.
Accept circumstances that cannot be changed, for example, the death of a loved one. Acceptance is challenging but achievable.
When you try to control uncontrollable things such as people’s behavior around you, it puts you under stress. If you are facing significant challenges in your life, take them as an opportunity for personal growth and learn from your mistake. Acceptance helps you to forget past bad experiences and let go of anger, guilt, and resentment that creates negativity.
7. Exercises And Physical Activity
When you exercise, your body releases endorphins that make you feel good and distract you from daily worries. Try to find at least 30 minutes every day and incorporate any physical activity you enjoy in your daily schedules, such as walking, cycling, playing with your kids, swimming, climbing stairs, or dancing.
Practice yoga meditation, and breathing exercises under the guidance or experienced trainer.
8. Get Connected To People You Trust
Spending quality time with people around you is one of the best stress management strategy. Spend time with people who understand you and make you feel safe. Even if people around you may not be able to fix your problems, having a good listener relieves stress. Telling your situation and sharing your feelings do not make you look weak but strengthens the bond between you and the person who cares about you. If you do not have a close pal to lean by when you feel overwhelmed, take professional help or meet a counselor.
9. Build Healthy Relationships
Studies show that people who have a social network are less affected by stress. To build and maintain a network of friends, try the following tips:
- Join our club or class
- Reach out to the colleague at work
- Volunteer someone help
- Keep checking on your loved one
- Accompany your friends for a concert or movie
- Have coffee or lunch with friends and colleagues
- Call or email your old friend
- Go for a short walk with your neighbor or your workout pal
10. Practice A Healthy Lifestyle
What you eat and how you live have a great impact on your health, mind, and relationship. A healthy lifestyle increases the resistance to stress. Eat balanced and nutrient-rich meals throughout the day, starting up with the breakfast to keep you energized throughout the day. Reduce the intake of sugar and caffeine. Drink at least 8 to 9 glasses of water every day. Take adequate sleep and avoid smoking, alcohol, and drugs.
Stress management is one of the vital parts of any overall health and wellness program. Stress disturbs the body and mind balance, leading to mental and physical illness and affects body immunity. Suppose you find yourself feeling overwhelmed and frazzled frequently beyond a certain point. In that case, that is causing damage to your health, productivity, quality of life, and relationship; take specific steps to deal with stress to function effectively, reduce the harmful effects and enjoy your life.