Stress : How Can We Manage It

 

Stress can be defined as something that causes physical, emotional and psychological strain on one's wellbeing. It can also be defined as a feeling when a person is unable to cope with the mental or emotional pressure. It is the body's way of responding to a danger or threat resulting the body to go in defence mechanism also known as "fight-or-fight" or the "stress response". 

The "stress response" is the body"s way of helping you. It can be helpful when working properly for example, it can help you stay alert and energetic in situations. Stress can also save your life in emergency situations for example, it can make you alert just before an accident. 




Fight-or-Flight Response

It is an automatic physiological response to when one feels threatened or is in danger, the nervous system floods the body with stress hormones including adrenaline and cortisol that prepare the body for an emergency situation. A person's heart beats faster, the blood thickens, one breaths faster and the senses become more heightened. These changes in the body prepare one for the situation as they increase the strength and stamina. 


Signs of Stress

Stress can be both positive and negative for one's health. It can also be short term or long term which can lead to a variety of different symptoms or reactions. Chronic stress can lead to lifelong effects on the body.

- Mood swings

- Clammy hands

- Trembling

- Headaches

- Dizziness

- Body pain and aches

- Low energy

- Difficulty in sleeping


Types of Stress

There are three types of stress. Each of them have different characteristics, symptom, duration and treatment.

1.  Acute Stress : Acute Stress is the most common type of stress that people experience. This form of      stress comes from the demands and pressure of the near future and the past. Acute is short-lived, it is the type that we encounter in our day-to-day life. It can be thrilling and exhilarating. Acute Stress for a short time is exciting but overdoing it can lead to psychological stress.

2.  Episodic Acute Stress : Episodic Acute Stress occurs when a person starts experiencing Acute Stress frequently or those whose lives present frequent triggers of stress, have this form of stress. Individuals who often suffer from acute stress, live a life of chaos and crisis. People who experience this type of stress are always under pressure, they take on too much work and are unable to stay organised. The stress becomes a part of life and creates ongoing distress. The symptoms are similar to that of acute stress but due to the extended arousal and hyper-arousal, it can be very damaging both physically and mentally.
Emotional distress, Muscular distress, irritability, anxiety, depression, etc.

3. Chronic Stress : Chronic Stress is actually the harmful type of stress that damages the person mental stability. If left untreated for a long period of time then, it can seriously deteriorate one's physical and mental health. Chronic stress often leads to depression and it may be seen as never-ending by the ones affected. This form of stress arises from a lot of different reasons. It could be due to a traumatic childhood, childhood abuse, dysfunctional family, substance abuse, failed marriage, poverty, etc. All these are some of the major causes of chronic stress. Chronic stress can leave life-long effects on the patients. It destroys a person from within , their mind and bodies alike. Chronic stress can be very hazardous to health as it known to cause certain ailments and something death. 


Treatment

There is not a permanent treatment or diagnosis for stress. The treatment often focuses on changing the situation, developing skills that will help you cope with your stress, new hobbies to distract your mind, relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga and treating conditions caused by chronic stress. 
Medication can sometimes be prescribed by doctors, these include - antidepressants, sleeping aids, antacids and anti-anxiety medicines. 

How to cope with your stress

- Try to share your problems with someone you trust. Talking might help more than you know.

- Try to get regular exercise. Exercise helps in taking your mind off things. Learn how to take care of your body. Exercise reduces stress and improves many symptoms associated with it.

- High levels of stress might cause a burnout. So, whenever you feel symptoms of emotional exhaustion, it's a sign that you need to take a break and get proper rest. 

- Reduce the intake of alcohol, caffeine and drugs. Increased intake of these substances will never prevent stress, instead they might worsen it further. 

- A healthy and balanced diet containing plenty of fruits and vegetables can immensely help maintain the immune system at times of stress. A poor diet will only worsen the situation during stress. 

A counsellor can also help an individual experiencing stress with personal development issues or stress management classes or group therapy sessions.