Stress is an emotional and physical response to certain events, typically involving some threat either real or imagined. More precisely, it is a medical term used to describe the response of the human body to a dangerous, challenging, or stressful situation. There are different types of stresses which we will discuss further after its major symptoms:
Symptoms Of Stress
What are some symptoms of stress? Here are a few symptoms you may experience with stress:
- Feeling sad or numb
- Anger and irritability
- Loss of appetite or weight loss
- Sleeping less than usual or sleeping more than usual
- Extreme tiredness or fatigue that doesn’t improve over time
- Thoughts about death or suicide
- Anxiety and nervousness
- Difficulty concentrating and focusing
- Hypervigilance (always feeling like you are on guard)
- Reliving traumatic events in your mind, also called trauma re-experiencing symptoms 11. Muscle tension, headaches, stomach aches
- Ongoing or frequent irritability
- You often feel like you don’t belong or like you want to get away from people and be alone
- Pinpointed focus on details that most others would not notice
- Feeling jumpy, easily startled, or overwhelmed by sensory information (smells, sounds, etc.)
Types of Stress
According to the severeness of stress, there are two types of stress: acute and chronic.
Acute stress occurs when you’re in danger and your heart beats faster than usual or your muscles tense up. This level of stress lasts only a few minutes with no significant lasting effects.
An example of acute stress would be if you were walking across an icy bridge and experienced fear about whether it might break.
Chronic stress happens when there’s long-term tension that wears down the body’s physical and mental resources. This type of stress can build up in the body over time and lead to health problems for some people.
An example of chronic stress would be if your relationship with your spouse kept breaking down because of disagreements over money or childcare responsibilities.
Other stress types include:
Your body is designed with a number of physiological responses to help you deal with the demands of stressors. There are two categories of these responses:
1) The Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) – also known as your “fight or flight” response, kicks in when you perceive a threat to your safety, causing an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration.
2) The Hormonal Stress Response – also known as your “feed and breed” response, help you restore balance to your body after a stressful event. It is composed of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HIPAA), the gonads, and other endocrine tissues that produce hormones such as cortisol, vasopressin, and oxytocin.
According to an article published in The Lancet, “Stress has been implicated as a causal factor for 50% to 75% of all sick leave.” It is unsurprising then that stress is also responsible for decreased quality of work and increased risk-taking behavior and accidents.
Your psychological stress response is your ability to cope with external stressors, often in the face of significant internal demands. Psychological responses to stress are often referred to as coping mechanisms or adaptation strategies. Coping mechanisms are an essential part of our lives that help us deal with difficult situations and problems, including physical injuries, relationship troubles, and the death of a loved one.
There are many on-the-job stressors that can influence your psychological response to stress, including workplace harassment, bullying, and abusive relationships. The emotional impact of these situations is a significant factor in workplace stress. In fact, according to research published in the American Journal of Critical Care, “Workplace bullying is pervasive and costly… it contributes to a post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, suicide ideation, and possibly even homicide.”
The emotional response can often be the most influential factor in workplace stress. The constant pressure of work deadlines and the long commute home after a hard day at the office can have a significant impact on your mental well-being. It can be challenging to maintain an even demeanor when faced with daily stress, but it is important to monitor your emotional response to problems and avoid becoming too stressed over any one issue.
According to an article published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, “Emotions are critical forces that guide us to devote attention to some things, to explore possible actions, and to inhibit other actions.”
Regardless of the type of stressor you are facing, there are ways you can minimize its impact on your work performance. The more practiced you are at mindfulness or meditation practices, the quicker your body will rebound from stressful events. As well as building your mindfulness and meditation skills, it is important to maintain a healthy mental diet.
Who is affected by chronic stress?
Chronic stress affects everyone differently. Some people may become depressed and apathetic under prolonged periods of high stress, while others may become more high-strung or irritable. For most people, though, stress takes a physical toll. Stress may cause headaches, sleep problems, fatigue, muscle tension or pain, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and ulcers.
Chronic stress can also contribute to heart disease and high blood pressure by making blood vessels constrict and raise your cholesterol levels. Hair loss and weight gain in some people is the major cause of prolonged stress.
How can I manage stress?
The key to managing stress is learning how to control the way you respond and react to it. Stress management strategies include deep breathing, muscle relaxation techniques, biofeedback, progressive muscle relaxation training, yoga, meditation, exercise, or any other healthy coping mechanism that works for you.
Although it’s easy for many people to recommend these techniques, it can be near impossible to implement them. If you’re constantly stressed, chances are your mind is cluttered and racing with all kinds of thoughts that make it nearly impossible to relax. Many people who deal with chronic stress also suffer from anxiety or depression, which makes relaxation training especially difficult.
One well-researched option available to those who have trouble coping with stress is hypnosis. Hypnosis greatly reduces anxiety and improves mood for people struggling with chronic stress.
Research also suggests that it can help people witness their memories without pain, sleep better, lose weight, stop smoking, increase self-confidence, improve concentration, and even treat irritable bowel syndrome.
Hypnosis is also an effective management strategy for stress because it helps people gain control over their reactions to stressful situations. When your body gets stressed, it sprints into a state of arousal preparing itself to deal with danger by releasing catecholamines through the adrenal glands. When these chemicals surge through the body, you feel symptoms like increased heart rate, muscle tension, and sweaty palms.
But when you’re under hypnosis, you can reduce these symptoms by learning how to make your body relax despite what’s going on in your mind.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation Training
One of the most effective types of stress management is known as progressive muscle relaxation training. There are many ways to practice this technique. The basic idea is that you consciously relax each of your muscles by tensing them first and then releasing them on purpose.
Typically people practice this technique by starting with muscles in their hands and feet before progressing through the rest of their bodies. The first step is to lie down and close your eyes, then tighten up each muscle group for five seconds before breathing out all of the tension.
It’s often helpful to start with your toes since these muscles are usually the tensest after a long day of walking or standing. Once you’ve tensed your feet for approximately 5-10 seconds, take a deep breath in and let go of all the tension in your feet. Feel them getting heavy and limp, like overcooked spaghetti.
You can progress through your body in this simple way. This will give special attention to problem areas that are typically affected by stress. Some people find it helpful to visualize each muscle group relaxing on purpose while they master how to make themselves relax.