Practically everyone is forced to experience some type of stress in a point of their lives. Having too much or prolonged stress can lead to many issues, including health problems. For this reason, it’s recommended to treat it as quickly as possible. Here we’ll help you become aware of what stress is really about, the problems associated with it, and most importantly, what you can do about it.
Stress is defined as your body’s reaction to any type of change that requires your body to respond to or adjust to. This type of response can be emotional, mental, or even physical, and it typically comes from either the environment around you, your thoughts and mindset, or it can also come from a more physical aspect, like your body.
Stress is typically caused by factors called stressors, which can be pressures or certain situations that are responsible for the stress that you experience. These stressors can either be positive or negative, so you can actually be stressed from things that are technically supposed to have a more positive effect on your life.
More specifically, there can also be internal causes as well as external causes. Internal causes are classified as being more self-generated since they are caused by your inner, personal thoughts and your overall mindset. Internal causes of stress usually involve excessive worrying about something that could happen in your life or not. It also involves irrational or extremely negative thoughts. For example, internal stressors can be anywhere from rigid thinking, perfectionism, an all-or-nothing attitude, or talking negatively about yourself.
On the other hand, there can also be causes of stress that involve external factors. External factors are pressures or situations that take place outside of your thinking, and you cannot often change these stressors. For instance, external stressors may involve significant life changes, pressures from school or work, or even issues that you may be experiencing regarding relationships with the people that are close to you in life. In addition to these factors, external stressors may also involve financial problems, not having enough time to complete essential tasks in your life, and even pressures that come from your family, children, or other loved ones.
Stress is capable of either gradually coming into your life and affecting you little by little, or it also can come up all of a sudden. Either way, stress is capable of drastically changing your whole life, whether it changes your life over time or all at once. When it comes gradually, it can change little things at a time, so it’s difficult to notice that you’re experiencing stress at all.
Regardless of whether stress changes your life gradually or all at once, there are a variety of symptoms that are associated with someone that typically is experiencing stress. For instance, someone may experience symptoms of stress that affect their cognitive abilities. More specifically, these symptoms can range anywhere from problems with memory to experiencing poor judgment.
In addition, cognitive symptoms of stress may include an inability to concentrate, a tendency to view the negative side of situations, excessive and constant worrying, or it can even involve extremely negative thoughts.
Aside from these cognitive symptoms, someone may experience symptoms of stress that are more emotional, like depression, anxiety, irritability, or even feelings of extreme loneliness. Additionally, someone may also experience psychological symptoms that involve feeling overwhelmed about certain situations or pressures that they’ve been placed under. Significant stress levels also bring on physical symptoms, such as aches and pains in random areas throughout their body, nausea, chest pain, or illness.
Lastly, stress may also trigger symptoms that negatively affect their behavior. For instance, changes in eating patterns, like consuming too much food or too little, or disruption to sleeping patterns. Other types of behavioral symptoms may becoming distanced from others, neglecting responsibilities, and procrastination. In addition to that, when people are under enormous amounts of stress, they often look to other forms of coping mechanisms, such as turning to cigarettes, alcohol, or even drugs, to temporarily manage the negative way that they’re feeling.
Everyone will experience some stress in their lifetime, but there are multiple different types of stress. Whether it’s physical, emotional, traumatic, acute, or chronic stress, they all can affect practically anyone in the world.
Physical Stress - Physical stress is usually the result of someone participating in physical activities that end up in them, negatively affecting their body in some way. This can be anywhere from sports or fitness training to more subtle things. For instance, travelling can put your body under stress, since you most likely travel through different times zones, and your body isn’t used to this.
In addition to that, physical stress may also come from your body either receiving too much or too little sleep. And it can also result in you putting your body under physical strain that it’s incapable of handling, like when you spend too long on your feet or work for long periods.
Emotional Stress - Emotional stress is probably the most common type of stress that anyone experiences throughout their life. It typically comes after you’ve undergone a major life event that had the ability to affect your emotions or your mindset drastically. The effects of emotional stress are similar to those that someone that’s depressed may experience.
More specifically, emotional stress may results from drastic changes to your life, like a breakup, a divorce, or the death of someone close to you. But you may also experience stress because of less severe events, like simply having a bad day, being too overwhelmed at work, or having too many responsibilities at home.
Traumatic Stress - This type of stress typically occurs because of some kind of trauma that was done to your body. Traumatic stress may involve severe pain, or it can even include a coma. Regardless of the type of effect, it has on your body, traumatic stress is capable of drastically changing some physical aspect of your body. It can even possibly occur after you’ve undergone an operation or some type of surgery.
Acute Stress - Acute stress is a type of stress that can happen almost instantly, typically only lasting for a short amount of time, and it’s less severe than chronic stress. However, it is palpably noticeable – think of a racing heart beat or sweating palms. Additionally, acute stress is generally only affected by certain types of factors in your environment.
Chronic Stress - As opposed to acute stress, chronic stress is a more stealthy and problematic form of stress, which can last for extended periods. It is capable of impacting you in your everyday tasks, and it can negatively impact your life for up to several years. Somewhat surprisingly chronic stress can be measured physiologically, but often goes unnoticed at a psychological level, due to adjusting to a new change in mind and body state over time.
The human body is technically designed to deal with specific amounts and types of stress since it has an autonomic nervous system that’s able to respond to stress. The autonomic nervous system that’s in our bodies contains built-in stress responses that cause physiological changes to your body, which allows your body to combat any type of stressful situation that you may be experiencing.
But this stress response can become chronically activated when it has been fired for long periods, which causes your body to experience damage both physically and mentally. Essentially, when you put your body under too much stress for too long, your stress response system malfunctions and is unable to react appropriately to stressful situations when it’s most required.
When you experience too much stress and don’t treat it properly, then a less severe form of stress can lead to distress, which is classified as an extremely adverse stress reaction. Distress is capable of disturbing your body’s internal balance, which then leads to symptoms that negatively affect your body. For instance, physical signs of distress may include headaches, an upset stomach, high blood pressure, chest pain, and even problems sleeping.
Other symptoms of distress may involve more emotional symptoms, like depression, panic attacks, anxiety, and even excessive worrying. When distress goes untreated, it is known to worsen the symptoms of some diseases and can also cause diseases. For instance, distress can worsen and is linked to diseases like heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, and even suicide.
Aside from stress turning into distress when it’s gone untreated for so long, it’s also dangerous for a variety of other reasons. For instance, stress makes you unable to control your emotions, so you will often overreact during situations when it’s inappropriate to overreact. Even mild levels of stress impair your ability to use your cognitive skills.
In addition to your inability to control your emotions, stress is also dangerous because it can ruin your heart health. More specifically, stress hormones in your body increase your heart rate, and they constrict your blood vessels. This ultimately forces your heart to work harder, and you’ll end up with high blood pressure, which is extremely dangerous.
Stress can also cause you to gain weight since people are known to eat more when they’re under stressful situations. Lastly, stress weakens your immune system. It puts high demands onto your body, which gives no energy for your immune system to properly work.
Given the dangerous effects of stress, you’re highly recommended to get rid of it. You can do this in multiple different ways, such as engaging in more exercise. Exercising decreases the number of stress hormones that you have in your body. You can also look for supplements that are known to promote stress reduction, like lemon balm, Ashwagandha, and even Kava Kava.
You should also surround yourself with supportive people. Social support gives you a sense of well-being and belonging. You can also seek professional help if nothing else is working and you’re feeling more severe stress. Mental health professionals are specially trained to treat victims of stress as you.
Here are 10 ways you can eliminate stress:
If you’ve experienced stress, you know how detrimental the effect can be on you. So you’re recommended to always refrain from stressful situations. You can do so by first realizing what makes you stressed in the first place. Find out which specific environments give you stress and then avoid those places and situations.
You should also frequently make time for relaxation so that stress doesn’t build-up. You should go for walks, spend time in nature, write in a journal, watch happy movies, and exercise regularly.
Overall, stress is bound to affect you at least once in your life. And when you experience it, you should do all that you can to get rid of it so that you don’t experience any of the adverse effects it can have on you if it goes untreated. Primarily, your methods of coping with stress should contribute to your overall greater emotional and physical health.
Here is a stress-busting infographic to help you remember what we covered and manage your wellbeing.
Rebecca is a wellbeing specialist blogger and editor at Self Development Secrets, and a professional marketer. If you'd like to read more great self-development blogs on everything from anger management to making yourself smarter, then check out the website.
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