Nowadays, stress is a normal and inevitable part of everyday life. It can take many forms, from physical and mental exhaustion to the pressures of work, family, and financial burdens. While stress is ubiquitous in life, it can pose severe adversities to a person’s mental and physical health. Stress is the response to a situation seen as intimidating or complicated, triggered by varied issues, including financial worries, tests, deadlines, and family matters. Additionally, it can be brought on by less conspicuous things, such as the pressure to succeed or be continuously active.
Everyone experiences some degree of stress. However, the way one responds to stress makes a big difference to an individual’s overall well-being.
Forms and Types of Stress
Based on their clinical outcomes, stress can be either physical or mental. Physically, stress can manifest in different ways, symptomized by headaches, fatigue, increased heart rate, and insomnia. However, mental stress can lead to depression and anxiety, leading to feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and a sense of guilt and worthlessness.
There are four commonly described harmful types of stress:
• Acute stress (generally brief)
• Chronic stress (prolonged)
• Episodic acute stress (short-term but recurring)
• Positive stress, or eustress
Signs and Symptoms of Stress
Stress can be short and long-term, exhibiting a broad spectrum of symptoms. Feeling overwhelmed by stress can lead to severe physical and mental health issues. Knowing the signs and symptoms of stress can help manage it better and prevent it from becoming chronic.
• Physical symptoms of stress can include moist or sweaty palms, headaches, physical discomforts, body pains, fatigue, diminished sex drive, digestive issues, Low energy, Racing heartbeat, and trembling. Stress may also lead to high blood pressure, weight fluctuations, recurring colds or infections, and changes in the menstrual cycle and libido.
• Mental symptoms of stress can include difficulty focusing, indecisiveness, memory problems, racing thoughts, difficulty sleeping, dizziness, and irritability. If these symptoms become more frequent or intense, it could be a sign of chronic stress.
• Behavioural symptoms of stress can include changes in eating habits, substance abuse, Mood swings, withdrawal from friends and family, and difficulty enjoying activities that were once enjoyable.
• Emotional symptoms of stress can include anxiety, restlessness, depression, anger, and loneliness.
Prolonged unmanaged stress may trigger several health conditions, such as hair loss, ulcers, tooth and gum disease, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, obesity, sexual dysfunction, and heart conditions.
If you are experiencing any of the signs and symptoms of stress, taking steps to manage it is necessary.
The adverse implication of stress
For the individual stress threats-
• Well-being/quality of life
• Functioning/goal achievement
• Personal development
For the workplace/organization stress threats-
• Increased absenteeism and turnover
• Reduced quantity and quality of work
• Decreased job satisfaction and morale Problems with recruitment
• Poor communication and increased conflict
Stress Management and Treatment Strategies
Managing stress can help a person enjoy a more balanced, healthier life. Stress management offers a spectrum of strategies to help better deal with stress and associated adversities. Stress management approaches include:
• Learning skills like problem-solving, ranking tasks, and time management.
• Enhancing one’s ability to cope with adversity, like learning how to improve emotional awareness and reactions, increasing the sense of control, finding greater meaning and purpose in life, and cultivating gratitude and optimism.
• Practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing, yoga, meditation, tai chi, exercise, and prayer.
• Improving personal relationships.
However, for effective stress management, it is crucial to identify and address the sources of stress.
• Make requisite lifestyle changes, such as getting enough sleep, eating healthy, and exercising regularly.
• Find ways to reduce stress in the workplace, such as taking short breaks throughout the day, practicing relaxation techniques, and talking to a supervisor or mentor.
• Develop healthy coping mechanisms, such as deep breathing and meditation, setting realistic goals, and learning to say no.
• Find support from family and friends, as well as professional counselling.
When managing stress, it is important to acknowledge these feelings and take steps to address them. Taking time to relax, unplugging from technology, engaging in physical activity, and talking to someone can all be beneficial.
Since stress is not recognized as a distinct medical diagnosis, no single or specific treatment exists. Treatment for stress concentrates on modifying the situation, forging stress-coping skills, enforcing relaxation techniques, and treating symptoms or conditions caused due to chronic stress.
Coping With Stress
Stress is inevitable but can be manageable. Understanding its harmful effects and combating it will help gain good health and reduce the impact of stress in life.
Learn to identify the signs of burnout. High-stress levels may place the individual at a high risk of burnout which may lead to feeling exhausted and apathetic. The onset of the symptoms of emotional exhaustion is a sign that the person must find a way to handle stress.
Be physically active. Physical activity significantly impacts the brain and body. Start Tai Chi, jogging, or any exercise as they reduce stress and improve many symptoms associated with mental illness.
Take care of yourself. Incorporating regular self-care activities into daily life is crucial to managing stress. Learn ways to care for your mind, body, and spirit.
Practice mindfulness in life. Mindfulness isn’t just practicing something for 10 minutes daily. It can also be an art of life. Learn how to live more mindfully throughout the day to become more awake and conscious.
Stress is usually an unpleasant experience associated with harmful consequences. Sometimes, stress can be best managed by changing the situation. At other times, it can be controlled by changing one’s response to the problem.
It is always advisable to seek help if you or your dear ones struggle with stress.
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