Effects of Stress: Here’s Everything You Need to Know

Stress: Here’s Everything You Need to Know

What Is Stress?

All of us, at some point or the other, have experience stress. When an emotional or physical tension is formed due to a perceived challenge, demand, or threat, it is called stress. It can be triggered by a variety of circumstances. 

When you feel vulnerable, your body automatically prepares itself for the perceived threat. A stress reaction is a normal response in the body. 

While stress is a consistent part of our life, understanding what triggers stress is vital. It lets us avoid stress-causing situations. However, the problem lies in the fact that stress is a habitual response to circumstances that we cannot escape.

Effects of Stress

  1. All stress is not bad. The purpose of our body’s reaction to stress is to prepare us for situations necessary for an improved health outcome (better muscle tension or a higher heart rate).
  2. Avoiding stress triggers and reactions will help retain your calm, provide immediate and lasting overall benefits, and prevent medical complications caused by stress.
  3. Each person deals with stress differently, so it is imperative to know that there are thousands others like us and each one’s reaction to stress is unique.
  4. Each person has unique stress triggers. The effects and duration of stress also vary from person to person. Do not allow someone to tell you to tone down your anxiety or tell you that your feelings are invalid.
  5. Exercising might be a great means for some of us to battle the effects of stress. However, some people may experience stress at the very thought of working out in the gym. So choose what best works to combat your stress levels.

Causes of Stress

  • Living through a pandemic
  • Having a chronic illness
  • Surviving a dangerous accident or illness
  • Being the victim of a crime
  • Marital stressors such as:
    • An unhappy marriage
    • An abusive relationship
    • Issues related to child custody
    • Extended divorce proceedings
  • Caregiving for a loved one with a terminal ailment like dementia
  • Being poor
  • Working in a risky job
  • Poor work-life balance, extensive hours at work, or doing a job you do not enjoy

Stress Symptoms

You might experience various symptoms of stress such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia and other sleep disorders
  • Chronic pain
  • Gastric problems
  • Low sex drive
  • Eating disorders
  • Trouble focusing and making choices 

Physical Symptoms of Stress

  • Stress headaches

Also known as tension headaches, they are caused due to tense muscles in the head, neck, and face.

  • Stress ulcers

An ulcer is a sore on the inside layer of your stomach’s digestive lining caused by:

  1. Long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or painkillers (NSAIDs)
  2. Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infections
  3. Rare cancers and tumours
  • Stress-eating

If you are binge eating in the middle of the night or eating way more than you used to, you may be stress-eating.

When you indulge in stress eating, you pile up on more calories, and you’re probably not selecting healthy food options. This might cause rapid weight gain and multiple health problems. What you must remember is that it does nothing to reduce your stress!

So, if you’re binge eating for stress relief, it’s time to opt for different coping mechanisms. 

Stress at Work

Work can be one of the leading causes of stress, which can be infrequent or long-lasting.

The importance of work-life balance is very significant. Maintaining good mental health is very important to prevent work burnout which can eventually lead to a breakdown.

Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety are a lethal combination and can have a severe negative impact on your overall health and well-being. Physical symptoms of stress, likely to develop include:

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Depression
  • Panic disorder

If you are under high stress due to any situation in your life, seek medical advice immediately. Your doctor will be able to assess your physical and mental status and refer you to counselling if necessary. Especially, is you have morbid thoughts or intentions of hurting yourself or others in any way, get help at once.

Stress Relief

  1.     Deep breathing exercises
  2.     Meditation
  3.     Progressive muscle relaxation
  4.     Biofeedback
  5.     Listening to music
  6.     Mental imagery relaxation
  7.     Counselling 

Stress Management

Stress Management adopts a holistic approach to stress. It’s not about getting completely rid of it as a little bit of stress can be good and beneficial at times. In fact, “good stress” can improve cognitive function and helps you be resilient to face life situations.

Some specific behaviours as first steps in Stress Management are:

  • Exercise frequently
  • Aim for 7-8 hours of sound sleep every night
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Lessen your caffeine and alcohol intake
  • Stay connected socially to receive and provide support
  • Consciously take a  time out and relax

If you cannot succeed in Stress Management on your own or suffer from anxiety or depression, seek help from your therapist or any other mental health professionals right away.

Conclusion

Stress is something that we all face regularly. It affects adults as well as children. Intense stress is undoubtedly detrimental to your physical and mental well-being. Remember, always be mindful of your mental health. Prepare yourself and do not panic.

Luckily, there are many ways of stress management. These are effective for treating both depression and anxiety that may be related to it. 

If you are feeling depressed or suicidal, immediately call a helpline or visit your doctor immediately.