Are you going through stress? Or You know someone who is undergoing severe stress right now. You shouldn’t stress yourself further by thinking much. Here are stress management techniques you should observe to ease off! But first, let’s know what stress is, its causes, symptoms, and the consequences of prolonged stress (Chronic stress) in our body.
What is stress?
Stress is a state or feeling of being under excess emotional or mental pressure. It is the body’s way of responding to threats or demands. It is also referred to as tension or pressure. Different individuals react differently to stress, and their environment plays a significant role in that.
More often than not, stress is seen as a harmful condition due to its adverse effects. What most individuals don’t understand is that it could be a driving force for success. Our bodies are designed to manage small amounts of stress. But, we are not equipped to withstand long-term, chronic stress without severe consequences.
Biologically, stress (pressure) can be either positive or negative. It could also be a neutral experience. It has been the driving factor of adaptation, leading to evolutionary changes. It floods the body with hormones that defend the body against threats. Humans can handle tension (stress) better than other animals because of the numerous stressors and changes we have faced and mastered. Some of these changes are triggered by physical factors, such as noise, aggressive behavior, a speeding car, etc.
Causes of stress
Stress could be caused by physical or emotional factors. These factors are referred to as stressors. Very little things could trigger stress for some people, things as trivial as thoughts. Anything could be defined as stressful. This is dependent on the individual.
External (physical) causes of stress include:
- Relationship problems
- Family difficulties
- Work or school
- Moving or changing environment
- An important event
Emotional (Internal) causes of stress include:
- Rigid thinking
Diagnosing stress is a complex process. This is usually done by asking questions about symptoms and life events. However, these questionnaires and physiological techniques may not be effective or objective. The most effective way to diagnose stress is through extensive stress-oriented, and face-to-face interviews.
Symptoms of stress
The various effects of stress are seen in the signs and symptoms exhibited by the individual. Similar to the causes, it affects the body physically and mentally. Various parts of the body are affected by it; brain, nerves, muscles, joints, heart, stomach, pancreas, intestines, and reproductive system. Only when you’re familiar with these symptoms that you would know stress management techniques and how you could go about it easily.
25 symptoms of stress include:
- Muscular aches
- Difficulty in sleeping
- High blood pressure
- Low immunity
- Incoherent speech
- Heart disease
- Erectile dysfunction
- Stomach upset
- Frequent urination
- Memory loss
- Loss of focus
- Lack of trust
- Sudden outbursts of anger
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Erratic appetite
- Shortness of breath
- Social isolation
Consequences of Long-Term Stress (Chronic stress)
Here are some severe consequences of chronic stress:
- Cardiovascular disease; including heart disease, abnormal heart rhythms, high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attacks
- Mental health problems; such as anxiety, depression, and personality disorders
- Gastrointestinal problems; such as GERD, ulcerative colitis, gastritis, and irritable colon
- Menstrual problems for the ladies
- Skin and hair problems; such as permanent hair loss, acne, eczema, and psoriasis
- Sexual dysfunction; such as premature ejaculation (impotence) in men and loss of sexual urge in both men and women.
Stress Management and Treatment
Stress treatment involves self-help, medication, and management. Doctors prescribe medicines after proper analysis has been conducted on the affected individual. However, personal actions should be taken to relieve and manage stress efficiently.
For proper stress management and treatment, here are few natural practices you should observe:
Exercise Regularly: Research has proven that exercise can help a person’s mental and physical state. It assists in keeping the mind free of tension and the body fit.
Nutrition: Taking a diet rich in fruits and vegetables boosts the immune system. Vitamin-deficient meals like sugary snacks, refined carbohydrates could lead to ill health and increase the effects of pressure.
Time management: This is probably the most important way of relieving stress. This is done by prioritizing activities and allocating time duration to each task. An easy method of doing this is by having a to-do list.
More effective methods of managing time can be found in books and articles in bookstores and on the internet.
Connect with people: Directly talking to others triggers hormones that relieve tension. Spending more time with people who make you feel good is a healthy way of managing stress. Make it a conscious effort to connect with people who are not the source of your stress.
Relax more: Breathing is a very easy way to relax. Doing this often reduces stress effects. Other relaxation techniques involve yoga, massage, and meditation. These methods improve the body’s response to tension.
If left unattended over time, stress can lead to severe health problems. It is, therefore, advisable to check for the symptoms and commence treatment immediately.
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12 more stress management tips:
- Always Keep a more positive attitude towards matters arising.
- Eat healthy and well-balanced foods.
- Try your best to control events, but when your efforts prove abortive, just accept your fate and move on with life.
- Exercise to keep healthy. When your body is fit, it can fight stress better than when it is unwell.
- Always be assertive rather than aggressive. Assert your beliefs, feelings, or opinions instead of becoming defensive, angry, or passive in your feelings.
- Practice and learn relaxation techniques; try yoga, tai-chi, massage, or even meditation for stress management.
- Observe healthy sleep and get enough rest after going through a stressful day, so you could calm your nerves and recover from the stressful events.
- Do not rely on drugs or alcohol to reduce stress.
- Proper management of time can keep stress at bay. With adequate time management, you will be able to make timely decisions on things to do or avoid.
- Include your hobbies and interests in your everyday activities. You may as well utilize this period for relaxation.
- Spend adequate time with relatives and friends that you enjoy comfort with.
- Having tried all these stress management tips above and it still feels persistent, then you should seek treatment with mental health professionals and psychologists, trained for stress management and treatments.