Stress. What is it and what Can We Do about it?

Practically everyone is forced to experience some type of stress in a point of their lives. You can be stressed for a variety of different reasons, including anything from internal personal issues that involve your perspective on specific situations to obvious problems that you’re forced to deal with.

Regardless of the type of stress that you’re experiencing, you may feel so down that you don’t know what to do. Your body is naturally designed to deal with a certain amount of stress. But having too much stress for too long can actually lead to many problems, including health problems.

Given that having stress can lead to many different problems, you’re recommended to treat it as quickly as possible. There are varying methods as to how you can relieve the stress that you feel, and there are even treatments that you can undergo. Regardless, here is some information about what stress is, the problems associated with stress, ways to eliminate it as well as some other ways to prevent stress from coming back.

What is stress infographic

What is Stress?

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 defined as your body’s reaction to any type of change that requires your body to respond to

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.

What Does Stress Look Like?

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 their memory to experiencing poor judgment.

In addition to that, cognitive symptoms of stress may include an inability for them to concentrate, their ability only to view the negative side of situations, excessive and constant worrying, or it can even involve them experiencing extremely negative thoughts.

Aside from 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.

Furthermore, someone under stress may also feel more physical symptoms. This is more common among individuals that have experienced physical stress, but it’s also very possible that someone experiences physical symptoms of stress while under emotional stressors. More specifically, physical symptoms of stress include symptoms like aches and pains in random areas throughout their body, or even constipation or diarrhoea. Moreover, physical symptoms may also include nausea, chest pain, or even frequent colds.

Lastly, someone that’s under any type of stress may also experience symptoms that negatively affect their behaviours. For instance, behavioural signs may change your eating patterns, like consuming too much food or too little. Or you may also find your sleeping patterns being negatively affected by the stress that you’re under.

Someone that’s under any type of stress may also experience symptoms that negatively affect their behaviours

Other types of behavioural symptoms that you may experience while under stress may include your distancing from others, you neglecting your essential responsibilities or even procrastination. In addition to that, when some people are under enormous amounts of stress, and they don’t have any support from others, they often look to other forms of relaxation to take away from the stress that they feel. More specifically, some people turn to cigarettes, alcohol, or even drugs to help cover up the negative way that they’re feeling.

Different Types of Stress

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

Woman stretching after 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 typically only lasts for a certain amount of time, and it’s less severe than chronic stress. 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 severe form of stress, and it 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.

Why is Stress Bad?

Graffiti of a stressed out man

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 put your body under too much stress for too long, your stress response system malfunctions

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.

Why Stress is Dangerous

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.

Eliminate Stress

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:

1. Listen to Music

Processed with VSCO with a5 preset

Listening to music can relieve your mind of stress because it’s able to influence your brain wave activity. More specifically, when you listen to music, the delta waves in your brain increase your ability to fall asleep, which ultimately helps your body relax more. Since music increases the activity of these delta brain waves, it will help you relax more.

Not only that, but listening to music at around 5 hertz can help your brain synchronize with your delta brain waves. This is also why listening to music can benefit a wide range of health issues, like depression, anxiety, and even Alzheimer’s disease.

2. Decompress

To release any tension that you may have as a result of being under too much stress, you should place a warm rag around your neck and shoulders for a few minutes. In addition to that, you’re also recommended to close your eyes and relax the muscles in your face, neck, and upper chest. After you’ve has the warm rag on your body for a few minutes, remove it and start to massage away any tension that you feel in those areas.

By doing so, you’re essentially removing any anxious feelings that you may have because of stress. Furthermore, you’re also relaxing your muscles, so this technique prevents any stress from doing back again.

3. Exercise

Exercising, in general, provides your body with a variety of benefits, including the ability to promote your mental health as well as your physical well-being. In addition to that, engaging in exercise every day reduces your mental fatigue, and it also improves your concentration and focus. Given that, exercise can reduce the amount of stress that you have to experience because it helps you focus on working out.

Furthermore, exercising to relieve stress is recommended because your body receives more endorphins when you’re engaging in physical activity, so it makes your body feel better and improves your well-being. Some regular exercises that you’re recommended to engage in include brisk walking, jogging, yoga, and even going to the gym.

4. Read a Book

Man reading to improve his memory

Reading helps you disengage your mind from any stressful thoughts that you may have, and it instead engages your attention into the book that you’re reading. By focusing your attention on the material that’s inside the book, reading helps you relieve stress by preventing your mind from thinking about the things that are stressing you out.

Moreover, reading a good book helps to put you into a different state of mind, so you’re able to forget about reality for a while when you’re reading a book.

5. Spend Time with Others

You most likely don’t want to be around other people when you’re stressed because your mindset might believe that hanging out with other people will lead to more stress. But surrounding yourself with others when you’re under a large amount of stress is recommended because it helps to eliminate any stressful thinking.

Being with other people helps you to think about them instead of being stuck in your head thinking about everything that’s stressing you out. Additionally, having fun with other people releases more endorphins, making you feel better in general.

6. Take a Hot Bath

Taking a hot bath while you’re under a large amount of stress is highly recommended because it can ease any tension that you may have in your muscles. Additionally, taking a hot bath helps your body relax, so you don’t have to feel stressed about thoughts inside of your head.

To increase your feelings of relaxation while taking a bath, you’re advised to add some muscle to the water. Not only that, but adding certain essential oils that are responsible for combating stress is highly recommended, like Jasmine, Chamomile, Lavender, and even Holy Basil.

7. Watch a Funny Movie

Laughing can eliminate any feelings of stress that you may have since laughing, and smiling are capable of boosting your mood and increasing your feelings of happiness. And watching funny movies is advised because they make you smile and laugh more.

Not only that, but watching movies, in general, gives you the ability to take your mind away from reality, so you don’t have to think about the stressful thoughts in your head always.

8. Go Outside for a Walk

Walking up some stairs

Walking is a beneficial form of exercise when you’re stressed because it doesn’t increase your heart rate too much, and it helps you unwind more. Not only that, but walking outside can release more endorphins in your body, so you will feel better overall.

In addition to that, breathing in the fresh air and being in the sunlight outside helps to calm your nerves, eliminate any stressful thinking, and it improves your overall mood.

9. Learn CBT

CBT is classified as cognitive behavioural therapy, and it’s a form of psychotherapeutic intervention that is aimed at improving your overall mental health. It’s commonly used to treat depression, panic attacks, and even phobias. CBT involves the process of becoming aware of your mind and that you have the capability of changing your mindset.

By learning CBT, you’re essentially training your mind to not think about certain thoughts that are responsible for stressing you out. You can ultimately turn off the negative thoughts and teach yourself how to handle the stress that you feel.

10. Meditate

Meditating is a process that’s known for its ability to relax your muscles, relieve tension, reduce anxiety, and increase your ability to rest inside of your own body. It’s responsible for altering your brain’s neural pathways, so it can help you eliminate any stress that you may be experiencing.

To meditate correctly, it involves sitting straight up with both feet on the floor. You should close your eyes and focus your attention on your breathing. Become more consciously aware of your own body. This will help you further connect with your thoughts and give you the ability to think that you have control over your own body.

How to Prevent 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.

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