is the mental or emotional state which causes physical or mental tension. It’s the feeling of strain or pressure. Stress in small amounts can be beneficial — even healthy — and plays a role in motivation. However, when faced with excessive amounts of stress, it can lead to both physical and mental harm.
Causes of Stress
Stress can be caused by 2 main factors, which are:
- External Factors – Work, family issues, divorce, conflict in relationships and moving house.
- Internal Factors – A tendency to worry and be anxious over small issues, or a chemical imbalance in the brain which can cause stress and depression.
Contributing Factors to Stress
Stress can arise from hereditary conditions which cause the central nervous system to be strained easily. It can also be a type of learned behavior, for example, those with parents who are stressed easily. Stress can also result from being in nerve-racking situations such as having a stressful career or experiencing familial problems.
Age can have a big impact on the likeliness of stress, for example, the transition from childhood to adulthood, when hormonal changes and a new role in society. Reaching the age of menopause can also cause stress, while men are also affected by hormone changes in older age, although less so than women. Reaching this age can cause an increase in worry and a low mood, as well as making both genders more susceptible to being easily offended.
Types of Stress
There are 3 main types of stress:
- Acute Stress – This is stress caused by a specific situation, for example, work deadlines, overwhelming challenges, or any event which causes a strong emotional response. Once this stress disperses, the body will return back to normal.
- Episodic Acute Stress – This is caused by a sequence of traumatic events, such as experiencing health problems, subsequently becoming unemployed, and then getting divorced. Others are predisposed to respond to situations with stress, worry, and anger, which can cause episodic acute stress due to the regularity of this reaction.
- Chronic Stress – This is a slow accumulation of consistent stress and worry, ultimately resulting in chronic strain. This type of stress can have a considerable effect on your long-term physical and emotional health.
Symptoms of Stress
Serious stress disorders can cause the following symptoms:
- Headache and general aches and pains
- Irritable bowel syndrome, causing issues with digestion and diarrhea
- Shaking and sweating
- Exhaustion and apathy
- High blood pressure
- Weak immune system
- Heart conditions
- Anger, being easily irritated, or easily upset.
- An inability to concentrate
- Feeling depressed and disorientated
- Feeling anxious
When You Should Consult Your Doctor
If you feel that you are experiencing more stress and anxiety than is proportionate to the cause, if you feel you have no control over these feelings and emotions, or if a buildup of continual stress has left you feeling depressed with negative side effects that are affecting your daily life, such as insomnia or any other physical symptom relating to strain, consult your doctor.
Diagnosis and Treatment
In making a diagnosis, the doctor will first discuss the situation with the patient, asking questions designed to further understand the behavioral and situational nature of the stress in order to assist in helping the patient change his or her thought process and reactions to stress to shape a positive change in the patient’s daily life
Prevention of Stress
There are many ways to reduce and manage stress and tension. Apart from the traditional healthy living approaches to stress management, such as eating a balanced and healthy diet, exercising regularly, and getting sufficient sleep, the following methods can also be used for dealing with stress:
- Engage in activities which you find fun, enjoyable, and relaxing
- Talk about how you are feeling, whether it be with your close friends or your partner
- Practice mindfulness, such as breathing exercises, meditation, and the positive visualization of overcoming your stress and anxiety
- Change your attitude, for example, try to view challenging situations as an opportunity to learn and develop, or use spiritual principles to help your general consciousness and maintain peace of mind