What is Stress?
Stress refers to the disruption of the body’s natural rhythm. This usually occurs in response to positive or negative environmental changes that a person feels is beyond their control.
Everyone will experience stress throughout their life, but at a certain level stress can be dangerous if not handled properly.
How does stress work?
Physiological changes occur when a person is faced with a stressors, namely feeling a challenge or a dangerous situation. In particular, our ‘fight or flight instinct’ is activated, preparing us for the threat. These changes may include:
- Changes in blood flow
- Increased heart rate
- Breathe faster
- Muscles tighten
- Increased blood pressure
Although in short-term stress these changes can help us cope with stress, long-term stress can negatively affect the body and mind.
Types of stress
This is the most common form of stress. This stress arises from the pressure that is felt or has just been experienced. This stress is usually relatively short-lived and has limited long-term effects on mental and physical health. Common examples include being late for work, being in a car accident, or speaking in public.
Episodic acute stress
Episodic acute stress occurs when a person experiences acute stress frequently. Individuals who are prone to this type of stress can be categorized into two groups, namely:
- Individuals with a stressful lifestyle
- Individuals experiencing anxiety
Chronic stress is caused by stressful situations that occur continuously or from the perception that certain environments pose a threat. Chronic stress can be internalized, which means a person can learn how to live in it and may slowly forget that this stress exists.
The result of stress
The consequences of long-term stress include:
Increased symptoms of depression, major depressive disorder, drug abuse, and alcohol dependence.
Health problems such as:
• Heart disease
• High blood pressure
• Muscle ache
• Stomach ache
• Digestive problems
• Disturbed sleep
Remember that stress in the short term can sometimes be beneficial and useful to some extent. However, it will be dangerous for health if not managed properly.
How to Manage Stress
Learning to manage stress is important so that stress doesn’t become overwhelming and debilitating. This management takes practice.
Here are a few things you can do to get started.
- Relaxation techniques
- Identify the causes of stress in your life
- Lifestyle changes:
• Enough sleep
• Avoid or reduce consumption of caffeine, sugar, alcohol, drugs, and nicotine