Stress is referred to the body’s response to the stimulus that is either physical, emotional, or psychological. It helps in adjusting to new situations and fulfills the demands of daily life. Stress, usually perceived as a negative attribute is not solely a negative factor but also has some positive features. Stress can be categorized into bad stress and good stress respectively. Good stress helps in avoiding dangerous situations and motivates the person to face challenges and reach the desired goal. Let us assume that a person’s academic exams are at the corner and his stress levels are increased to a certain extent. The good stress may help him set some goals and work harder, which may ultimately help him reach the targeted goal and succeed. On the other hand, the other category of stress, called ‘bad stress’ has a severely negative impact on a person’s physical, mental, spiritual, psychological, and social life.
Further types of stress are:
- Acute Stress
- Episodic Stress
- Chronic Stress
Acute stress refers to sudden stressful stimuli for a short period of time, while episodic stress means the stimulus occurring in a timely manner. Chronic stress is the long-term stress that a person may experience for a prolonged time.
The stages of stress are divided into three, which are as follows:
- Alarming Stage
- Resistance Stage
- Exhaustion Stage
The first stage is alarming, which indicates the sudden stimuli which initiate the body’s fight-and-flight response. The second stage, called the resistance stage, is when the person tries to cope with the situation and resists as much as possible. The exhaustion stage is the last and most dangerous stage, which occurs over a prolonged time of continuously trying but not being able to succeed or overcome a certain situation. This stage needs emergency and sincere attention.
Stress can be triggered through various sources. The most common triggering factors are money, work, illness, and relationships. When a person is under stress, several signs and symptoms can be observed. These signs and symptoms may be behavioral, emotional, and physical respectively. Behavioral symptoms may include disturbed appetite-either over-eating or under-eating, disturbed sleep pattern- either insomnia or hypersomnia, taking drugs, drinking alcohol, and social withdrawal. Emotional signs and symptoms may be anxiety, depression, anger, nervousness, frustration, panic attacks, and negative thoughts. Heavy chest, angina, increased blood pressure, body aches, headaches, shortness of breath, and fatigue can be some of the physical signs and symptoms of stress.
Negative stress has drastic effects on the human body and needs stress management for the sake of coping and overcoming stressful situations. Stress may affect some or all the body systems, including the nervous system, cardiopulmonary system, reproductive and excretory system, musculoskeletal system, and may alter spiritual levels. The effects of stress may include:
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Liver diseases
- Decreased sex drive
- Mood swings
In order to work on stress management, a proper diagnosis is required. Stress is solely subjective and is unmeasurable through tests. A close relative, a trustworthy friend, and a doctor or therapist may help in the stress management of a person effectively and prevent further issues by helping the person to cope with stressful situations.
As we all know that taking and following preventive measures is far more better and beneficial than looking for a cure. Stress can be and should be prevented in order to live a stress-free and healthy life. The prevention of stress may be done by:
- Daily exercise
- Avoiding excessive alcohol intake
- Consuming less caffeine
- Maintaining a proper sleep schedule
- Following a healthy and balanced diet
- Avoiding overuse of gadgets
- Involving in recreational activities
- Staying connected to friends, family, and loved ones
Certain food consumption may help in reducing stress and managing normal emotional health. These food items are fish, garlic, chamomile tea, and broccoli.
When stress reaches the exhaustion stage, the doctor may prescribe some anti-depressants, usually Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) which should be followed as per the dose recommended by the doctor.
Some stress management techniques and exercises should be followed in order to reduce stress, which is as follows:
- Laugh therapy
- Accepting the things that are out of your control or will
- Thinking positive
- Deep breathing exercises
- Talking and sharing with a close friend and family
- Listening to music
- Chewing gum
- Meditation and yoga
Some of the best exercises for stress management are swimming, cycling, jogging, running, brisk walking, dancing, and taking deep, calm breaths. One needs to seek urgent medical attention if someone is observed to be drug-addicted, overwhelmed, or having suicidal thoughts and attempts. By following a proper stress management regime, a person can improve his physical, mental, psychological, emotional, and social health.