Some of the common examples that cause stress are as follows:
- Death of a loved one
- Loss of a job
- Financial liabilities
- Getting married
- Moving to a new home
- Chronic illness or injury
- Emotional problems (depression, anxiety, anger, grief, guilt, low self-esteem)
- Taking care of an elderly or sick family member
- Traumatic event, such as a natural disaster, theft, rape, or violence against you or a loved one
What happens when we are stressed?
- A stressor can be any event, experience or environmental stimulus that causes stress in a person.
- In response to a stressor, the body reacts by releasing some chemicals into the blood.
- These chemicals, in turn, prepare the body for a ‘flight or fight’ response to the stressor by increasing the heart rate and the breathing rate, tightening the muscles and raising the blood pressure.
- The body is designed to handle stress if it’s for a short period of time. In some situations, stress can be a positive motivator, and push one towards achieving a goal. For example, during exams, stress can help students stay awake and focus more.
- But, for some people, even daily activities can be stressful. Stress which is constant and prolonged can cause many physical, mental and emotional problems.
What are the ill-effects of stress?
- People can take to excess drinking, smoking and drug abuse to deal with stress.
- It can lead to marital issues and social maladjustment
- Stress can cause insomnia, anxiety and depression. Type A personality people are likely to be more stressed and are also more prone to the long term effects on the heart.
- It can cause cardiovascular problems like hypertension and even heart attacks.
- Stress lowers the body’s immunity and makes one more prone to frequent colds and other viral infections.
- Long term stress can cause skin and hair issues like eczema and hair loss.
- Stress can also lead to eating disorders and obesity.
How to know if you are stressed?
- You become easily agitated over minor daily tasks.
- Lack of sleep
- You don’t feel like going out or meeting people.
- You have a feeling of low self- esteem
- You might have frequent headaches, feel low in energy and have a change in bowel habits, like diarrhea, constipation or nausea.
- You have frequent palpitations and dry mouth.
- You might have cold, sweaty palms and feet.
- You might be forgetful or find it difficult to focus.
How can stress be managed?
- Managing stress requires a comprehensive approach.
- It would be best to consult your doctor so that a correct management plan can be made. The doctor might advise tests to check your blood levels and also check for other conditions like diabetes, hypertension or thyroid disease.
- The management of stress involves lifestyle changes, medication and cognitive behavior therapy.
- You might be prescribed anti-depressants or anti- anxiety drugs to help deal with the effects of stress.
- A psychotherapist can help by teaching relaxation techniques.
What lifestyle changes can help in dealing with stress?
Some lifestyle changes can help in dealing with stress
- A healthy, well balanced diet can help in boosting the body’s immune system and promoting a sense of well being
- Avoid caffeine can help in preventing excess anxiety
- Avoiding smoking can also help in curbing agitation
- Regular exercise can help by promoting the release of mood enhancing chemicals, called endorphins, into the blood.
- Joining a support community is beneficial as sharing problems can help in one feeling supported.
- Yoga and meditation are also beneficial for stress management.
Understanding stress and talking about the issues associated with it can help in dealing with this common issue. We advocate medical supervision prior to starting any treatment regime.