Stress isn’t always bad. In small doses, it can help you perform and motivate you to do your best. But when these types of stress have you in “stress mode”, your mind and body can start to pay the price.
The Stress in an “America Survey” shows that adults continue to report high levels of stress and many have reported their stress have increased in the past year. We all suffer from one or more types of stress and sometimes it’s difficult to relax. So why does stress have millions of people frustrated for relief?
To understand this question we first need to understand what stress is, the types of stress, and what different forms it takes in our lives.
- What is Stress?
- Causes and Effect of Stress
- Types of Stress
- Effects of stress
- Stress Management
- Stress Busters
What is Stress?
When stress in our bodies is managed and checked it helps keep us focused and alert. It can even be a lifesaver in emergency situations – like when a mother is protecting her child, stress is what helps keep them alert and ready to protect what’s important.
Stress Definition :
Stress is a physical, mental, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension or strain. Its a response your body has to protect you, responding to any demand or threat real or imaginary.
Fight or Flight
When you are stressed your body releases chemicals so you can better tackle the problem. Two of these chemicals are adrenaline and cortisol, cortisol keeps you alert while adrenaline gives you the energy to react. This reaction of chemicals is called your “Fight or Flight” response.
But why is stress so bad?
Too much of one thing is never a good thing no matter how beneficial it may be at first. The same goes for stress, too much and our bodies enter into a chronic state.
This is when stress starts affecting your health, mood, productivity, and quality of life. 80% of workers feel stress on the job and nearly half say they need help in learning how to manage stress. That’s why I created Unwind Therapies and preach self-care, to manage the stress in our lives.
Learning to manage stress is a skill that not many people develop or learn. It’s especially worse when you have deadlines to meet and many things are on the line such as that bonus you’ve been working towards, time with family, or even your job.
During a stress response, your heart rate increases, breathing quickens, muscles tighten up, and blood pressure rises. These are all normal signs of stress and help our bodies react faster and perform under pressure.
But if our bodies stay in this state for too longs things start getting out of whack. These stress symptoms or side effects of stress below are small negative signs of stress:
- Low energy
- Stress Headaches
- Upset stomach
- Tense muscles
- Rapid heartbeat or Palpitations
- Loss of sexual desire and/or ability
- Nervousness and shaking,
- Cold or sweaty hands and feet
Causes and Effect of Stress
75% of adults reported experiencing moderate to high levels of stress in the past month and nearly half reported that their stress has increased in the past year.
With high percentages like these knowing causes of stress is that much more important, knowing is half the battle after all.
Causes of stress
The factors in our lives that cause stress are commonly known as stressors. But contrary to popular belief, not all stressors or stress are negative. Good stress such as your first day of school, wedding day, or interviews are all positive.
All causes of stress fall under two types of stress, external and internal stressors.
- Falling in Love
- Positive Change
- Learning Something New
- Wedding Day
The few examples above are all external stressors. Internal stressors are self-induced such as obsessing over something that may or may not happen. Stress is also very personal and varies for each person.
One stressor for someone can be a pleasant moment for someone else, such as public speaking. I personally don’t like standing in front of crowds, but others can find it rewarding.
- Work or School
- Children and Family
- Financial Problems or Worries
- Drastic Life Changes
- Finding a new job
- Moving to a new home
- Negative self talk
- Unrealistic expectations
- Being Pessimistic
- Too much Anger
- Bad Memories
- Irrational Fears
Types of Stress
Learning to manage your own stress can be a process, but the first step is always understanding what stress is to you. Stress affects everyone differently but there is a common trend.
There are 3 types of stress that any individual can find themselves in. Acute Stress, Episodic acute stress, and chronic stress.
This type of stress is short-term and is the most common way that stress occurs. The average person experiences acute stress multiple times throughout the day.
They can be mild stressors like an alarm clock going off or a new assignment at work.
Episodic acute stress
People who frequently experience this type of stress have more triggers that are constantly active. They experience repetitive stress from one or more sources. This keeps them in the “Fight or Flight“
A person with too many commitments, poor organization, or individuals who worry too much on a constant basis can find themselves having episodic acute stress.
This is the most harmful type of stress and eats away at you over a long period of time.
The danger here is chronic stress can continue unnoticed, as people can become used to it. It can become part of an individual’s personality, making them constantly prone to the effects of stress regardless of the scenarios.
This can lead to anxiety and even panic attacks if nothing is done. Learn how to cure your own anxiety and panic attacks!
Effects of stress
The nervous system is an amazing piece of hardware we all have installed, but one flaw it does have is its inability to sort out physical and emotional threats.
Continuing to be stressed all day can have your body respond the same way it would as if you were in a life or death situation.
The more you get stressed the easier it becomes for you to have a stress response, making that much harder to reduce stress and strain. Check Out 25 Mental Self Care Practices for Mental Stress!
It’s important to know the effects stress can have. Your body has an amazing way of adapting, which can be dangerous with long term stress.
Long term stress can make some of these negative effects start feeling familiar or even normal, making them even more harmful.
Stress is also known to lead to very dangerous problems such as PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), Panic Disorders (such as panic and anxiety attacks), and Depression. These are but a few chronic stress symptoms:
- General unhappiness
- Weight Gain (Learn how you can lose that stress weight today)
- PTSD and Depression
- Anxiety and agitation
- Moodiness, irritability, or anger
- Memory problems
- Inability to concentrate
- Poor judgment
- Seeing only the negative
- Aches and pains
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Nausea, dizziness
- Chest pain
- Stress eating or lack of appetite
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Withdrawing from others
We wrote a very comprehensive guide on creating your own panic attack treatment plan, check it out here…
In this section I want to cover some ways you can relieve some stress, some may be simple and straightforward. But…
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” – Leonardo Da Vinci
Simple things are very easy to understand, follow, teach and enjoy. So when managing stress its important to make the process as least stressful as possible, if not it defeats the purpose.
Here are some stress relief ideas you can use to relax and reduce stress and strain…
- Avoid Stressful situations
- Breathing Exercises
- Find your own Stressors
- Listen to Music
- Learn Relaxation Techniques that Work for You
- Water Therapy
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation
- Create Stress-Busting Habits
- Take Time for Yourself
- Reduce intake of alcohol, high amounts of sugar, and caffeine
- Establishing support networks
Check Out This 7 Min Meditation Practice that helps Reduce Stress!
Here are 7 unique stress buster and Self Care that is sure to help you reduce any of the 3 types of stress.
1. Simplify Life
Ask yourself this question after every day: Will I die tomorrow if this doesn’t get finished? I’m guessing you’ll say no a lot.
Every morning I immediately jot down my to-do list. Once I start to experience the first heart palpitation, the list gets cut in half. Do this for a lot of aspects in your life and you will definitely see an improvement in both stress and energy.
They say laughter is the best medicine for good reasons. Did you know there is scientific proof on how smiling more actually makes you a happier person?
Laughter is also known to reduce the levels of three stress hormones, now that’s medicine!
3. Morning Habits
It is important to have habits, especially good ones. But did you also know good habits also help reduce stress? Healthy habits like stretching and running daily can give you and your mind the boost it needs to tackle any task that day.
There is no better way to getting some amazing stress relief than practicing some healthy habits in the morning, not only will it prepare you for the day to come but also properly equip your mind and body to handle stress.
One of my favorite programs that helped me develop the best morning habits is Morning Ritual Mastery. Check it out!
4. Build Boundaries
When managing stress its super important to have a space for yourself, this space needs to be dedicated to reducing all stressors and distractions.
Creating a space is great but that’s the first step, next is distancing yourself from negative influences. Being around negativity will only have it latch onto you, keep away from situations and persons that are negative and give you stress.
5. Let Nature In
What I mean by this is getting in touch with nature. I live in the city and the closest thing to nature I have is either the beach which is a few hours away or the public park.
But I still find it very important to get fresh air, hear the sounds of nature, and enjoy a nice barefoot walk in the park or beach. You will be surprised at the benefits this will have on your mood, emotions, stress and anxiety levels.
6. Read Self Improvement Books
Sometimes the best way to improve stress and manage anxiety is to improve ourselves. Build healthy habits, learn a new skill, or even learn stress management will go so far.
7. Say Thank You
Science is no stranger to gratitude. In fact, gratitude can lower stress hormones like cortisol by 23%.
Even more so: A study out of the University of California San Diego’s School of Medicine found that grateful people were happier, slept better, and had more energy. Being thankful feels a lot more powerful now doesn’t it.
8. Water Therapy (Hydrotherapy)
For thousands of years, humans have been fascinated by the water in the world.
Water is an essential need for anyone’s survival. It’s also been an important part of ancient medicine and continues to be therapeutic for people during stressful times. I highly recommend looking up all the different ways hydrotherapy can relieve stress.