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what is stress

 

Understanding Stress
 

 We all face different challenges and obstacles, and sometimes the pressure is hard to handle. When we feel overwhelmed, under the gun, or unsure how to meet the demands placed on us, we experience stress. In small doses, stress can be a good thing. It can give you the push you need, motivating you to do your best and to stay focused and alert. Stress is what keeps you on your toes during a presentation at work or drives you to study for important exams when you'd rather be watching TV. But when the going gets too tough and life's demands exceed your ability to cope, stress becomes a threat to both your physical and emotional well-being.

 

Stress Warning Signs and Symptoms

 

 

Cognitive Symptoms

 

Emotional Symptoms

 

·         M

emory problems

 

·         Indecisiveness

 

·         Inability to concentrate

 

·         Trouble thinking clearly

 

·         Poor judgment

 

·         Seeing only the negative

 

·         Anxious or racing thoughts

 

·         Constant worrying

 

·         Loss of objectivity

 

·         Fearful anticipation

 

 

·         Moodiness

 

·         Agitation

 

·         Restlessness

 

·         Short temper

 

·         Irritability, impatience

 

·         Inability to relax

 

·         Feeling tense and “on edge”

 

·         Feeling overwhelmed

 

·         Sense of loneliness and isolation

 

·         Depression or general unhappiness

 

 

Physical Symptoms

 

Behavioral Symptoms

 

·        

Headaches or backaches

 

·         Muscle tension and stiffness

 

·         Diarrhea or constipation

 

·         Nausea, dizziness

 

·         Insomnia

 

·         Chest pain, rapid heartbeat

 

·         Weight gain or loss

 

·         Skin breakouts (hives, eczema)

 

·         Loss of sex drive

 

·         Frequent colds

 

 

·         Eating more or less

 

·         Sleeping too much or too little

 

·         Isolating yourself from others

 

·         Procrastination, neglecting responsibilities

 

·         Using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax

 

·         Nervous habits (e.g. nail biting, pacing)

 

·         Teeth grinding or jaw clenching

 

·         Overdoing activities (e.g. exercising, shopping)

 

·         Overreacting to unexpected problems

 

·         Picking fights with others

 

 

Keep in mind that the signs and symptoms of stress can also be caused by other psychological and medical problems. If you’re experiencing any of the warning signs of stress, it’s important to see a doctor for a full evaluation. Your doctor can help you determine whether or not your symptoms are stress-related.

Causes of stress

 

 

The morning commute to work or school may make you anxious and tense because you worry that traffic will make you late. Others, however, may find the trip relaxing because they allow more than enough time and enjoy listening to music.

 

 

 The potential causes of stress are numerous and highly individual. What you consider stressful depends on many factors, including your personality, general outlook on life, problem-solving abilities, and social support system. Something that's stressful to you may not faze someone else, or they may even enjoy it. For example, your morning  music while they drive.

 

The pressures and demands that cause stress are known as stressors. We usually think of stressors as being negative, such as an exhausting work schedule or a rocky relationship. However, anything that forces us to adjust can be a stressor. This includes positive events such as getting married or receiving a promotion. Regardless of whether an event is good or bad, if the adjustment it requires strains our coping skills and adaptive resources, the end result is stress.

 

Major life changes

Major life events are stressors. Whether it be a divorce, a child leaving home, a planned pregnancy, a move to a new town, a career change, graduating from college, or a diagnosis of cancer, the faster or more dramatic the change, the greater the strain. Furthermore, the more major life changes you’re dealing with at any one time, the more stress you’ll feel.

Daily hassles and demands

 

While major life changes are stressful, they are also relative rarities. After all, it’s not every day that you file for divorce or have a baby. However, you may battle traffic, argue with your family members, or worry about your finances on a daily basis. Because these small upsets occur so regularly, they end up affecting us the most.

Internal Causes of Stress

Not all stress is caused by external pressures and demands. Your stress can also be self-generated. Internal causes of stress include 

·        

Uncertainty or worries

 

·         Pessimistic attitude

 

·         Self-criticism

 

·         Unrealistic expectations or beliefs

 

·         Perfectionism

 

·         Low self-esteem

 

·         Excessive or unexpressed anger

 

·         Lack of assertiveness

 

Risk factors for stress

The presence of a stressor doesn’t automatically result in disabling stress symptoms. The degree to which any stressful situation or event impacts your daily functioning depends partly on the nature of the stressor itself and partly on your own personal and external resources.

 

Effects of chronic stress

Chronic stress wears you down day after day and year after year, with no visible escape. Under sustained or severe stress, even the most well-adjusted person loses the ability to adapt. When stress overwhelms our coping resources, our bodies and minds suffer.

 

Health effects

Recent research suggests that anywhere from 60 to 90 percent of illness is stress-related. The physical wear and tear of stress includes damage to the cardiovascular system and immune system suppression. Stress compromises your ability to fight off disease and infection, throws your digestive system off balance, makes it difficult to conceive a baby, and can even stunt growth in children.

 

 

Stress and Your Health

Many medical conditions are caused or exacerbated by stress, including:

·        

Chronic pain

 

·         Migraines

 

·         Ulcers

 

·         Heartburn

 

·         High blood pressure

 

·         Heart disease

 

·         Diabetes

 

·         Asthma

 

·         PMS

 

·         Obesity

 

·         Infertility

 

·         Autoimmune diseases

 

·         Irritable bowel syndrome

 

·         Skin problems

 

Emotional effects

 

Chronic stress grinds away at your mental health, causing emotional damage in addition to physical ailments. Long-term stress can even rewire the brain, leaving you more vulnerable to everyday pressures and less able to cope. Over time, stress can lead to mental health problems such as:

 

  •   anxiety depression
  •  eating disorders
  • substance abuse

 

The potential causes of stress are numerous and highly individual. What you consider stressful depends on many factors, including your personality, general outlook on life, problem-solving abilities, and social support system. Something that's stressful to you may not faze someone else, or they may even enjoy it. For example, your morning commute may make you anxious and tense because you worry that traffic will make you late. Others, however, may find the trip relaxing because they allow more than enough time and enjoy listening to music while they drive.

 

 

The pressures and demands that cause stress are known as stressors. We usually think of stressors as being negative, such as an exhausting work schedule or a rocky relationship. However, anything that forces us to adjust can be a stressor. This includes positive events such as getting married or receiving a promotion. Regardless of whether an event is good or bad, if the adjustment it requires strains our coping skills and adaptive resources, the end result is stress.

learning healthier ways to cope, and changing the way you deal with stress, you can reduce its hold on your life.


 

 

 

 

 

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