What is Stress?
Stress may be defined as any stimuli or event (or change) that may or may threaten to disrupt the normal functioning of a human being. Stress may be emotional, psychological or physical in nature. It is one such thing that is experienced by one and all to some extent. However, the response and dealing of an individual with stress is what matters in maintaining the well-being. It is very important to understand when you are experiencing it. It is also necessary to know the impact stress can have on one’s health. We need to know of the impact of stress and how we can deal with stress to maintain our well-being.
Types of Stress
Not all kinds of stress can be considered bad. There is bad as well as good stress. The list is given below:
- Eustress – Eustress is also known as the positive or the good stress. This is the kind of stress that may excite a person or may give them energy to perform the task at hand. This kind of stress is often associated with adrenaline. An example can be when an individual is working on a task with a specific deadline. Another example can be a job promotion which is a positive event but may have reasons like shifting of office, addition of work, etc.
- Acute Stress – This type of stress is short-term and may be very distressing or may also be positive. This is the kind of stress that we encounter in our daily life. This may involve preparing for a much awaited event that may induce some stress, for instance. Besides, another example can be a bad presentation at work.
- Episodic Acute Stress – This is the stress that tends to be unrestrained and uncontrolled in life of a person. This stress keeps on increasing if not attended to properly. This may lead to the person having chaos and disturbance in their life due to the constant amount of episodes he/ she is experiencing.
- Chronic Stress – This is the stress that seems to be almost inescapable and one that has no end. Examples of such chronic stress may include loss of a job or the stress that results from a bad or failed marriage. This may also be a result of a disturbing experience in childhood or any traumatic event in life.
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Impact of Stress on Health
Though stress may seem like a psychological phenomenon only. It is not. Instead, it is physiological as well and has an impact on the body of the individual as well. While, it impacts the health, it also finds its expression in several bodily phenomenon. Stress related to finances, relationships, your lifestyle, and others can have major impacts on your health.
The presence of certain diseases and illnesses such as diabetes can also result in an increased amount of stress. Thus, it goes both ways. Acute stress such as experiencing a natural disaster or another traumatic event can cause sudden death, increased risk of heart attacks, arrhythmias, and others. However, such a situation does not normally arise unless one previously any kind of heart diseases.
Chronic stress, on the other hand, may have a serious effect on the autonomic nervous system of an individual. At first, the symptoms of chronic stress may be mild but with time they may become chronic. Symptoms may become chronic if prolonged. There may be serious chronic health issues as a result of this. These illnesses include the ones enlisted below and many more:
- Hair loss
- Heart Disease
- Tooth and Gum diseases
- Sexual Dysfunction
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Coping refers to the practice of overcoming the stressful or threatening situation. Any such threatening situation may be a threat for one person and may cause him or her to be super-stressed and panic. On the other hand, the same situation may not prove to be stressful for another person at all. Therefore, it becomes extremely important to understand the different ways in which people may take a situation to be stressful. Once we know this, we can also say that the coping strategy or technique is not the same for all people. Given in this section are top three strategies one can apply to cope with stress and have healthy and happy lifestyle.
Problem-focused coping is that which revolves around the root cause of stress. Therefore, the first thing that one should do in this kind of coping should be to identify the problem. Once you identify and have a clear understanding of what the problem is, you can do a lot to resolve and cope with it. In this kind of coping, full focus is laid on the problem or the stress-causing stimuli at hand.
In order to deal with the problem at hand, by applying problem focused coping, you can use time management, ask for help or support from your colleagues, friends and family. Besides, you can also completely avoid the problem at hand. Although, avoiding is often taken to be negative a lot of times, sometimes in certain situations avoiding becomes a necessity. One needs to assess and analyse when it can be done and when it cannot be done.
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Unlike Problem-focused coping, Emotion-focused coping is one in which the entire focus is laid down on the negative emotions and responses generated by the stressful stimuli. Attempts are made to reduce the impact of the negative emotions on the individual that may lead to an increase in the stress of the person. Negative emotions such as the humiliation, depression, anxiety, fear and many others are dealt with in this type of coping.
Emotion-focused coping may be either positive or negative. Example of the positive emotion-focused coping may be talking about the problem with someone, writing it down in your journal, distracting oneself by engaging in activities, etc. Examples of negative problem-focused coping would be drug abuse, suppression, avoidance of emotions, etc. these may result into extremely harmful effects so the way to deal with the emotional arousal should always be positive.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Progressive Muscle Relaxation is another very useful technique that helps in coping from psychological stress as well as with the bodily stresses. This involves simply tensing and then relaxing the major muscles of the body. This should be done from head to your feet in the said order only. One may think that when it is coping technique what is the need to first tense the muscles? Tensing muscles helps one in relaxing them more thoroughly and effectively.
Progressive muscle Relaxation can be practised almost anywhere and it is also very easy. Several research give proof for the fact that relaxing one’s body also helps in coping with the psychological tension. It helps in keeping the reactivity level to the stressful stimuli at minimum. Besides, it also helps in saving oneself from acute and chronic stress that can be very dangerous to the person experiencing it. You should find a suitable time to practise relaxation after which you need to sit down or lie down comfortably. One should start from the face and then go down to the leg. The focus should be on the body and the muscles. Make sure to let go of all the tensions to have good and effective relaxation.
In conclusion, we would like to emphasize that it is of utmost importance to maintain one’s well-being and remove any kind of stress from life. There are several other coping strategies that can help you in effectively coping with stress. These are Yoga and Meditation, Mindfulness, Therapy, Catharsis, Religious help, Support from faith, Visualization and Imagery, etc. It is important to recognize what causes stress and to know its impact. Therefore, one should keep himself/herself up to date and be cautious of one’s health and well-being.