Stress is a natural feeling of not being able to cope with specific demands and events inn and around you. However, Stress can become a chronic condition if a person does not take steps to manage it. Stress can be like a pest to you.
These demands can come from work, relationships, financial pressures, and other situations you may find yourself but, anything that poses a real or perceived challenge or threat to a person’s well-being can cause stress.
At times, Stress can be a motivator, and it can even be essential to survival. The body’s fight-or-flight mechanism tells a person when and how to respond to danger. However, when the body becomes triggered too easily, or there are too many stress at one time, it can undermine a person’s mental and physical health and become harmful.
Definition of stress
There are many ways to to look at the definition of stress.
1: constraining force or influence: such as
a: a force exerted when one body or body part presses on, pulls on, pushes against, or tends to compress or twist another body or a body part
especially : the intensity of this mutual force commonly expressed in pounds per square inch.
b: the deformation caused in a body by such a force
c: a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation
d: a state resulting from a stress
especially : one of bodily or mental tension resulting from factors that tend to alter an existent equilibrium
e: STRAIN, PRESSURE
the environment is under stress to the point of collapse.
— Joseph Shebeen.
2: EMPHASIS, WEIGHT
lay stress on a point.
3: intense effort or exertion.
4: intensity of utterance given to a speech sound, syllable, or word producing relative loudness.
5a: relative force or prominence of sound in verse
b: a syllable having relative force or prominence.
Types Of Stress
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) recognize two types of stress: acute and chronic. These require different levels of management.
The NIMH also identify three examples of types of stressor:
routine stress, such as childcare, homework, or financial responsibilities
sudden, disruptive changes, such as a family bereavement or finding out about a job loss
traumatic stress, which can occur due to extreme trauma as a result of a severe accident, an assault, an environmental disaster, or war
This type of stress is short-term and usually the more common form of stress. Acute stress often develops when people consider the pressures of events that have recently occurred or face upcoming challenges in the near future.
For example, a person may feel stressed about a recent argument or an upcoming deadline. However, the stress will reduce or disappear once a person resolves the argument or meets the deadline.
Acute stressors are often new and tend to have a clear and immediate solution. Even with the more difficult challenges that people face, there are possible ways to get out of the situation.
Acute stress does not cause the same amount of damage as long-term, chronic stress. Short-term effects include tension headaches and an upset stomach, as well as a moderate amount of distress.
However, repeated instances of acute stress over an extended period can become chronic and harmful.
This type of stress develops over a long period and is more harmful.
Ongoing poverty, a dysfunctional family, or an unhappy marriage are examples of situations that can cause chronic stress. It occurs when a person can see no way to avoid their stressors and stops seeking solutions. A traumatic experience early in life may also contribute to chronic stress.
Chronic stress makes it difficult for the body to return to a normal level of stress hormone activity, which can contribute to problems in the following systems:
A constant state of stress can also increase a person’s risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), can develop when stress becomes chronic.
Chronic stress can continue unnoticed, as people can become used to feeling agitated and hopeless. It can become part of an individual’s personality, making them constantly prone to the effects of stress regardless of the scenarios that they encounter.
People with chronic stress are at risk of having a final breakdown that can lead to suicide, violent actions, a heart attack, or stroke.
People react differently to stressful situations. What is stressful for one person may not be stressful for another, and almost any event can potentially cause stress. For some people, just thinking about a trigger or several smaller triggers can cause stress.
There is no identifiable reason why one person may feel less stressed than another when facing the same stressor. Mental health conditions, such as depression, or a building sense of frustration, injustice, and anxiety can make some people feel stressed more easily than others.
Previous experiences may affect how a person reacts to stressors.
Common major life events that can trigger stress include:
job issues or retirement
lack of time or money
relationships, marriage, and divorce
Other commonly reported causes of stress are:
abortion or pregnancy loss
driving in heavy traffic or fear of an accident
fear of crime or problems with neighbors
pregnancy and becoming a parent
excessive noise, overcrowding, and pollution
uncertainty or waiting for an important outcome
Some people experience ongoing stress after a traumatic event, such as an accident or some kind of abuse. Doctors will diagnose this as PTSD.
Those who work in stressful jobs, such as the military or the emergency services, will have a debriefing session following a major incident, and occupational healthcare services will monitor them for PTSD.
Symptoms and complications
The physical effects of stress can include:
pain in the back or chest
cramps or muscle spasms
pins and needles sensations
A 2012 study found that the stressors that parents experience, such as financial troubles or managing a single-parent household, may also lead to obesity in their children.
Emotional reactions can include:
a feeling of insecurity
Stress-associated behaviors include:
food cravings and eating too much or too little
sudden angry outbursts
drug and alcohol misuse
higher tobacco consumption
If stress becomes chronic, it can lead to several complications, including
high blood pressure
lower immunity against diseases
erectile dysfunction (impotence) and loss of libido
Physical effects Of Stress
Stress slows down some normal body functions, such as those that the digestive and immune systems perform. The body can then concentrate its resources on breathing, blood flow, alertness, and the preparation of the muscles for sudden use.
The body changes in the following ways during a stress reaction:
*blood pressure and pulse rise
* breathing speeds up
* digestive system slows down
*immune activity decreases
*muscles become more tense
* sleepiness decreases due to a heightened state of alertness
How a person reacts to a difficult situation will determine the effects of stress on overall health. Some people can experience several stress in a row or at once without this leading a severe stress reaction. Others may have a stronger response to a single stress.
An individual who feels as though they do not have enough resources to cope will probably have a stronger reaction that could trigger health problems. Stressors affect individuals in different ways.
Some experiences that people generally consider to be positive can lead to stress, such as having a baby, going on vacation, moving to a better home, and getting a promotion at work.
The reason for this is that they typically involve a significant change, extra effort, new responsibilities, and a need for adaptation. They also often require a person to take steps into the unknown.
A person may look forward to an increased salary following a promotion, for example, but wonder whether they can handle the extra responsibilities.
A persistently negative response to challenges can have an adverse effect on health and happiness.
For example, a 2018 review of studies found associations between work-related stress and coronary heart disease. Despite this, the authors could not confirm the exact mechanisms through which stress causes coronary heart disease.
Other literature has shown that people who perceive stress as having a negative effect on their health may be at higher risk for coronary heart disease than those who do not.
However, being more alert to the effects of stress may help a person manage it more effectively and cope better.
Treatment includes self-help and, when an underlying condition is causing stress, certain medications.
Therapies that may help a person relax include aromatherapy and reflexology.
Some insurance providers cover this type of treatment. However, it is important for people to check coverage with their provider before pursuing this treatment. Knowing the details about a potential treatment can help prevent it from adding to any ongoing stress.
More About Stress
Catecholamine hormones, such as adrenaline or nor-adrenaline, facilitate immediate physical reactions associated with a preparation for violent muscular action. These include the following: Acceleration of heart and lung action, paling or flushing, or alternating between both, inhibition of stomach and upper-intestinal action to the point where digestion slows down or stops, the general effect on the sphincters of the body, constriction of blood vessels in many parts of the body, liberation of nutrients (particularly fat and glucose) for muscular action, dilation of blood vessels for muscles, inhibition of the lacrimal gland (responsible for tear production) and salivation, dilation of pupil (satyriasis), relaxation of bladder, inhibition of erection, auditory exclusion (loss of hearing), tunnel vision (loss of peripheral vision), dis-inhibition of spinal reflexes, and Shaking.
Stress can cause or influence the course of many medical conditions including psychological conditions such as depression and anxiety. Medical problems can include poor healing, irritable bowel syndrome, high blood pressure, poorly controlled diabetes and many other conditions. Stress management is recognized as an effective treatment modality to include pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic components.