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Stress

Stress isn’t always bad. In an ideal scenario, stress helps us stay focused, energetic and alert and charges us by releasing chemicals that give added strength and energy.

But when stress becomes overwhelming, it can damage your health, your mood, your productivity, your relationships and your quality of life.
understand stress
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Types of Stress

The different kinds of stress. Stress management can be complicated and confusing because there are different types of stress — acute stress, episodic acute stress, and chronic stress — each with its own characteristics, symptoms, duration and treatment approaches.

Effects of Stress on body

Both sudden stress and even stress over periods of time can lead to serious health problems. Chronic stress disrupts nearly every system in your body. It can raise blood pressure, suppress the immune system, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, contribute to infertility, speed up the aging process and leave you vulnerable to mental and emotional problems.

Acute stress

This is the most widely experienced form of stress, which comes from demands and pressures of the recent past and those anticipated in the near future. It is your body’s immediate reaction to a new challenge, event or demand. Isolated episodes of acute stress should not have any health effects, but too much can make you feel exhausted.

Episodic stress

Acute stress that is experienced too frequently is called episodic stress. It is the outcome of certain life situations when you take on too much, and can’t adapt yourself to keep pace. Being overly competitive and having an always worried state of mind can result in episodic stress.

Chronic Stress

This is the stress of feeling trapped. In other words, if acute stress isn’t resolved and begins to increase or lasts for long periods of time, it becomes chronic stress. This can be detrimental to your health and contribute to several serious diseases or health risks and in severe cases, even suicide.

Post-traumatic stress

This is stress associated with traumatic experiences from one’s childhood, wars, poverty, sexual or violent abuse. It results in a feeling of being on the edge and reliving traumatic events through nightmares and flashbacks.
Acute Stress

Acute Stress

It is the most common type of stress, and is not always negative.
Episodic Stress

Episodic Stress

It may be hard for people with this type of stress to change their lifestyle, as they accept stress as a part of life.
Chronic Stress

Chronic Stress

If acute stress isn't resolved and begins to increase or lasts for long periods of time, it becomes chronic stress.
Post-traumatic Stress

Post-traumatic stress

A failure to recover after experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event induces this kind of stress.

Causes of Stress

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to why we get stressed. Each of us reacts differently to situations, and the causes of stress range from external factors like family, career, etc. to our attitude towards life such as negativity and pessimism.
External Causes

External Causes

Major life changes, work or school, relationship difficulties, financial problems, being too busy, children and family.
Internal Causes

Internal Causes

Genetic and hormonal causes of stress, which are exacerbated by chronic worry, pessimism, negative self-talk, unrealistic expectations/perfectionism, rigid thinking, lack of flexibility, all-or-nothing attitude.

Signs & Symptoms of Stress

Here are some of the common warning signs and symptoms of stress. The more signs and symptoms you notice in yourself, the closer you may be to stress overload.
Cognitive symptom


Cognitive

Memory problems
Inability to concentrate
Poor judgment
Seeing only the negative
Anxious or racing thoughts
Constant worrying
Emotional symptoms


Emotional

Moodiness
Irritability or short temper
Agitation, inability to relax
Feeling overwhelmed
Sense of loneliness and isolation
Depression or general unhappiness
Physical symptoms


Physical

Aches and pains
Diarrhoea or constipation
Nausea, dizziness
Chest pain, rapid heartbeat
Loss of sex drive
Frequent colds
Behavioural symptoms


Behavioural

Eating more or less
Sleeping too much or too little
Isolating yourself from others
Neglecting responsibilities
Alcohol, cigarettes or drugs to relax
Nervous habits (e.g. nail biting, pacing)

What can Stress trigger

While stress impacts the body negatively, in the long term it can lead to several stress-related diseases or complaints. These conditions are likely caused by stress.

Cardiovascular diseases and Heart problems

The two most serious stress-related health condition are – increased heart rate and high blood pressure, which in the long run increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Inflammation of skin and related conditions

Increased levels of stress hormones can trigger conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, eczema and skin rashes. This altered inflammatory response can also negatively impact the immune system.

Insomnia and sleep problems

Worries that arise due to stress can keep the mind active at most times, and thus people who are stressed find it difficult (sometimes impossible) to sleep.

Muscle pain and Headaches

Increased levels of stress hormones can cause muscles to tense up and in the long term it can also cause pain, stiffness and headaches.

Digestive problems & IBS

Tummy trouble such as nausea and stomach ache with no medical cause can often be stress related. People who are chronically stressed often complain of a cluster of condition arising from Irritable Bowel Syndrome and is partly stress related.

Obesity

When people are stressed they tend to eat inappropriately, especially food that is high in sugar, causing them to gain weight, which further intensifies the stress.

Memory impairment

Over-secretion of stress hormones most frequently can do harm to memory and other basic mental functions. Stress can cause the mind to be overstimulated or distracted, affecting the ability to remember. Stress due to emotional trauma can also lead to memory loss.

Depression and anxiety

Feeling unable to cope with stress and continuing to worry all the time can also lead to serious health problems such as depression and anxiety

How can I help myself

The first step towards helping yourself is becoming aware that you have stress and accepting that it can be managed. Next, try incorporating some of these activities into your daily routine to help you make stress management part of your lifestyle.
Do something you enjoy

Do something you enjoy

Be it spending some time cuddling your pet, painting, gardening, or simply listening to your favourite songs, enjoying yourself can ease mental tension.
Talk to someone

Talk to someone

Talk to people whom you trust and can disclose your darkest fears and feelings. Talk to family or friends who you know will not judge you.
Write down your feelings

Write down your feelings

Write down your thoughts and reflect on things that stress you out. This process will not only give you some space to express your feelings, but also understand the factors that cause stress.
Exercise

Try yoga, meditation or exercise

A simple 30-minute yoga or exercise session will get the happy hormones flowing and help combat stress.
Eat well

Eat a balanced diet

Try sipping on some green tea, a bowl of salad or bite into some fruit. Fresh fruit and vegetables provide vitamins and minerals that help reduce stress.
Hospital

Seek professional help

If you just don’t seem to be confident about dealing with situations, it’s time to seek help from a professional. Seeking help will help you develop and strengthen your stress management skills.
Schools can be the first line of defence for emotional and mental health disorders in our youth.#YouAreNotAlone

How can I help someone else

You know your friend or your family member is stressed and is finding it difficult to cope with it. While seeking help from mental health professionals is necessary, it is also important that you too step in and provide peer support.
Listen

Listen

Sometimes, all that a person who is stressed wants is someone who will hear their story. Take time and listen to what they have to say. Just listen with an open mind and in a non-judgmental way.
Use physical gestures

Use physical gestures

Smiling, holding hands, hugging, lending a shoulder etc. are gestures that help bring down stress levels. Use them to your advantage.
Play games

Do fun activities, together

It would be great if you could offer to join the person in some activity he or she enjoys – it could be early morning walks, enjoying a meal at their favourite restaurant, or going out to watch a play or even going on a trek.
Follow up

Follow-up

Show them that you genuinely care. They might not like it all the times but you need to stay in touch.
Seek help

Encourage to seek help

Tell the person that it is a good idea to seek help and explain how it is beneficial. It’s better if you can convince the person to take an appointment with a mental health professional and also offer to accompany them.

FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions
Is stress always bad?
No, stress is not always bad. Sometimes, it can be beneficial and motivating. For instance, during examinations or in work-related scenarios, being stressed motivates us to focus. However, stress can get overwhelming and cause us to react negatively, manifesting in numerous health problems.
When should I actually start taking my stress levels seriously?
Right away! Managing stress is a continuous and daily process, and it’s never too early or too late to make it a lifestyle habit.
What is the best thing to do when I think I am unable to cope with stress?
Meet a mental health professional. He/She will be able to tell you more about your condition. Though there are a number of ways in which you can help yourself, you will gain the most when you are guided by a mental health professional.
Does stress impact my ability to control my emotions and respond to situations? Is there more?
Common signs of stress include becoming easily agitated and moody, feeling overwhelmed with a sense that you are losing control over the situation, experiencing a feeling of worthlessness, and the inability to relax. There could also be strong physical manifestation of these symptoms.
Do medicines help to cope with stress?
Medicines help when taken for a brief period, but a long term effective solution to cope with stress is to adopt stress relaxation and management techniques. Please consult a psychiatrist before taking medication.
Are stress and anxiety the same?
Though the two words are used interchangeably in everyday conversations, they are not the same. Stress is the body’s reaction to a situation that requires a physical, mental or emotional adjustment or response. It can have both positive and negative impact. Anxiety, by contrast, often comes from a place of fear, uneasiness or worry. While it is common to experience anxiety in our day to day life, it can also manifest itself in the form of panic attacks, phobia, social anxiety and many other related symptoms.
Should I inform my family and friends that I am being treated for stress?
Yes, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t. Use your discretion though.
Will my friends think I’m silly for visiting a mental health professional for my stress issues?
Are you so alarmed when you visit a physician when you catch a viral fever or break a bone? If the answer is no, then the same applies if you are visiting a mental health professional. You are just taking a professional’s help to get you going.
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