Our life is full of hassles, frustrations, irritations that cause to a low mood, bad feelings of your soul and body and long term depression. Basically, we use the word "stress" when we feel all of this and sometimes it happens that stress becomes the way of life. Any moment we face a challenge that makes us feel overloaded can be stressful. Not always, this condition has a negative influence on our life, because we learn and adapt to work under the pressure, have a motivation to perform better and be in time. But when the dose of stress grows up constantly and it undermines mental and physical health, it can turn into very bad consequences. The most common reasons are family problems, bereavement, financial and job issues, illness, moving home, relationship etc.
Stress and stressors
To find out what it is stress, we need to determine what the stressor means.This definition is used for describing the stimulus, environmental condition or biological agent that cause the stress. For example, it can be simple noises, real or imagined danger, unpleasant people, traffic. Stressors can be divided into few categories: environmental (over-illumination), life changes (divorce), daily events (lost keys), chemical (drugs) and social (family demands). Based on this, we can conclude that stress is a response of a body to a stressor and it’s basically a feeling we have when our organism is reacting to different stressors. This response activates the sympathetic nervous system and it’s called fight-or-flight response.So the body is trying to protect you by getting away as fast as possible or fighting. And it starts to produce a big amount of adrenaline and noradrenaline, chemicals cortisol what trigger muscle preparedness, sweating, heart rate and alertness and these are the factors which show up and help us during a dangerous situation. In an emergency condition, stress can be useful because it will give you an extra strength to support yourself, for example, to slam on the brakes in order to avoid an accident. In the same time, it can help you to be more concentrate when you’re preparing for the exams, trying to finish the task till deadline. But when the stress crosses the certain limits it stops being positive and helpful and does damages to your health, mood, and life in general.
Who is the most sensitive to stressors?
We cannot predict how the particular individual will react to the same situation as the degree of stress depends on personal factors as a health condition, interpersonal relationships, the responsibilities we carry, expectations of us, the support we receive from others and the actual hurtful, traumatic occasions that we face. However, there are some generalized statistics about individuals who are more vulnerable to stress. So in this category are people, who don’t have proper social support, poorly nourished, have not enough of a nap, some physical problems, and reduced capacity to handle challenges. The researchers have specified the group of people who can be more suitable for stressors and there are teenagers, children, just married, single parents and seniors. It’s important to find out your own limits of stress because it will differ from person to person. Someone can overcome the painful punches when the others will get stressed from small obstacles and disappointments. There is also a group of people who get satisfied and excited with high-stress lifestyle.
The ability to tolerate stress will depend on some human factors like your relationships, emotional condition, outlook on life and genetics. Therefore, for example, your connection with relatives, friends, family members will make you more stress hardy. The other thing is your ability to handle your emotions and keep sense of control in meaning that you should know how to calm yourself when you feel angry, sad, overwhelmed and be able to take a stress in your pace, have an influence on events. The general outlook on life will make a person more tolerant of stress too because optimistic people can easily accept things how they are and have not so sensible limits of stress.
How to scale the stress level?
It’s really important to learn how to recognize the stress level and when it gets out of control. Because if you often feel stressful you could get used to it and don’t treat it as something not normal. So you wouldn’t feel how much it affects you and change your life.
In order to control such level, we need to learn how to identify the symptoms and signs of stress overload. As we mentioned before everyone can react differently on the same stressors, but there are some common signs and symptoms of stress overload you can notice in yourself as well. It affects our mind, body, emotions and behavior. According to that, we can observe the cognitive, physical, emotional and behavioral symptoms. The cognitive one is connected with your brain abilities like memory problems, issues with concentrating, judgment, seeing only negative sides in everything, alarming thoughts, and excitation. The physical symptoms are more visible because there are pains, ache, nausea, diarrheas, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, constant colds, loss of sex drive. It will be hard to identify the emotional symptoms as its can be the part of other processes not connected with stress overload, but still you should pay attention to your mood changes, existence of irritability, agitation, short temper, sense of loneliness, feeling overwhelmed, depression. The behavior signs we give here can be caused by other medical problems as well, but anyway, you shouldn’t ignore them. So there are sleeping too much or too little, eating problems, neglecting responsibilities, isolating yourself, using alcohol and drugs, different nervous habits. It’s always good to see a doctor if you notice any of these signs for a full conclusion because it may be caused by a bunch of various psychological and medical problems, not only by stress.
Organism’s reactions to stress
Long-term and over a limited act of stress can lead to different health problems as following: blood pressure rises, the immune system goes down, breathing becomes faster, muscles become tense, insomnia, digestive system problems, heart pulse rises. Chronic stress damages every system in our body. It can cause stable blood pressure rises, increase the risk of heart attack, supply to infertility, hurry the aging process. Also, stress can easily increase the severity of migraine headaches, fluctuations of blood sugar for diabetic people and asthma episodes.
How can we cope with stress? Methods and strategies.
The question which disturbs us the most: how do we deal with stress? And it seems that we can do more about that than we even imagine. The reason of this dissimilarity is that we used to focus on what happens instead of concentrating on our thoughts about a situation we find ourselves. When we are in danger we try to estimate the situation by deciding if we have a threat, how we can deal with it and what resources to use. If the needed resources and skills are not available we perceive this situation as stressful, but if there are more than enough of those it’s not seen as stressful. Basically, your interpretation of events may make a conclusion of how this influent on you. That was proved by different kind of researchers. For instance, if people always think that a stress affects their health, it will affect twice more and the stress is not actually a problem, but rather how we react to stressors.
Since each individual has a different response to stressors, there is no general solution which will work for all. There are some methods and strategies to deal with stress and for clarifying which is better for you, you should try it on and focus on what make you feel calm. For proper managing a stress you should take a charge of your thoughts, emotions, environment and the methods we deal with problems.
There are some researchers who distinguish the method of stress management which is called «four As»:avoid, alter, adapt, accept.It’s good to learn to avoid unnecessary stress by eliminating people and situations that can stress you if you don’t have to face with them. If you are not able to avoid it, alter, modify the situation by being more assertive and taking the problems head on. Instead of wearing your problems that increase stress, try to share your concerns with others. The other solution when you can’t avoid the situation, it’s trying to adapt to the stressor. Just change your attitude to more positive, reframe problems and look at the big picture. If something during your job has stressed you, focus on something you do love in this job, compare it with worse things that might happen in your life. And the last A is to accept the things which you can’t do anything about. We should accept the inevitable and not protest against situation because that can do your condition even more stressed. There is no way to be perfect and the stress situation is mostly helping to challenge yourself for future self-development.
There are three strategies you follow to treat and avoid a condition:self-help, self-management, and medication. Self-help includes different exercise as yoga, meditation, deep breathing and aerobic; calming down your assertiveness (if you are not capable of doing some work, don’t say yes for it); healthy nutrition (settle a healthy diet, reduce your caffeine, alcohol and drugs); time management (make sure you have enough time to relax, do your hobbies and sleep); relationships (talk to your family, friends, relatives and try to share your worries). Self-management is basically about avoiding, removing and changing the source of stress, which is more described earlier in «four As» methods.
And the last but not the less important is to be able to see a doctor in time and get the proper treatment if you feel the things are getting worse. But bear in mind that doctor mostly will focus on mental illness and can advise an antidepressant which will just mask a stress and not cope with it.
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