What is Stress? Now and then, someone will say they are stressed to the point that they are productive. The big question that one will ask themselves is what stress is. Well, stress comes about when the human body tries to respond to pressure. It is a feeling of being overwhelmed by a situation, or one cannot cope with the emotional or mental stress they are experiencing. In most cases, stress is triggered when the body experiences something new, unexpected, or a threatening life situation.
It is mainly characterised by what one is feeling as if they have lost control over things. When this occurs, the body produces stress hormone, which triggers a flight of responses and activates the immune system.
Stress can be classified into four main categories: physical stress, psychosocial stress, psychological stress, and psycho-spiritual stress. Physical stress results from trauma to the body, such as intense physical labour, illness, fatigue, dehydration, and musculoskeletal disorders. Psycho-spiritual stress arises from a crisis of meaning, purpose, or values. The crisis involves striving to fulfil something.
In addition, psychological stress results from emotional stress such as fear, hunger, frustration, cognitive, worry, guilt, and others. Psychosocial stress is caused by difficult social situations such as marriage or relationships. The relationship can be a partner or work colleague.
In most cases, stress can be a negative factor to the body. However, in some cases, the stress helps one to overcome their fears and make sound decisions. In such cases, the stress hormone produced by the body goes back to normal levels once the stress trigger is over.
Too much stress to the body is harmful. It may leave the body in a permanent shock state. One becomes overwhelmed by everything and unable to calm down quickly.
What Are the Signs of Stress?
Stress is one of the most manageable mental illnesses that doctors quickly diagnose. When one is suffering from stress, their body reacts by indicating some symptoms and signs. Some of the physical symptoms of stress include:
Body aches and pain
Chest pain accompanied by rapid breathing or difficulty in breathing.
- Sleepless nights
- Muscle tension
- Headaches accompanied by dizziness or shivering
- High blood pressure
- Digestive problems
- Weak immune system
Stress is also accompanied by emotional symptoms such as:
- Withdraw from other people
- Tearful every time
- Reduced sexual drive
- Feeling the need to drink more than usual
Prolonged stress may lead to memory loss, poor eating habits, and gastrointestinal conditions.
How Stress Impacts the Mental Health and the Body
Stress affects all the systems in the human body. The human body is equipped to deal with only low stress levels. When the stress becomes chronic, it causes a great negative impact on the body. For instance, the musculoskeletal system is affected as the muscle become tensed up. When the body experiences sudden stress, the muscles tense up and later release the tension after the stress episode. When muscles are tensed up for a long time, they may trigger the development of stress-related disorders.
When one is stressed, the respiratory system is affected as the oxygen supplied to the body is limited. One experiences shortness of breath and rapid breathing, which poses a danger to the body as it cannot manage the extra breathing activities.
Acute stress causes an increase in heart rate leading to stronger contractions of the heart muscles. As a result, there is a surplus supply of blood by the blood vessels that are direct blood to the large muscles, and the heart dilates. Chronic stress may lead to a prolonged surplus of blood, leading to hypertension, stroke, or heart attack.
Moreover, stress leads to the development of some changes in the nervous system. The changes pose a wide risk for future gut diseases. In addition, stress levels may lead to increased or reduced appetite, making it dangerous for the body to accommodate the change.
Increased stress levels in the body risk one from suffering from a mental health problem. For example, one may suffer from depression and anxiety. An episode of stress leads to the release of serotonin and adrenaline, affecting some parts of the brain responsible for memory and regulating emotions. Chronic stress may lead to mental illnesses.
How to Alleviate Stress
Stress is an unavoidable factor in the human body. However, several things can be done to overcome stress and help reduce stress levels. Some of the methods that help to handle stress include:
- Eating a balanced diet
- Exercising regularly
- Please stay away from all nicotine substance as it places more stress on the body.
- Minimise what triggers stress
- Assert yourself
- Set realistic goals.
Other recommended techniques to help cope with stress include:
Guided imagery - involves temporarily blocking the mind from the current happenings and taking the mind to a happy place. One may picture what makes them happy and focus on the imagery until they calm down.
Meditation - this is one of the most recommended ways to overcome stress. Meditation involves several techniques that help one overcome stress. First, one can develop a mantra that helps them to calm down.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation - it involves relaxation of body muscles by grouping them.
Focus On Breathing - breathing practices is one of the easiest ways to relieve stress at any time anywhere. Trying to change the breathing patterns helps to reduce the pressure posed on the blood vessels.
Take a Walk - taking a walk help to relieve stress as you get away from the stress focal point. A different scenery can help one to frame the mind on a different thing.
Fast recovery methods include getting a hug from a loved one, enjoying aromatherapy, and create artwork.
Stress occurs when the body experiences an unexpected change. There are many different manifestations of stress, either physical or emotional, differing between people. Stress has some effects on the body if it lasts hence the need for alleviation. There are many methods of alleviating stress, each dependent on the individual's preference and prevalence of stress. Therefore, stress is a phenomenon that can be alleviated through different means.