February 12

A Brief Overview of Stress

You look at the clock and then look back down to your screen. The cursor blinks at you as if it's begging you to start typing. Your shoulders begin to tense up knowing that your deadline is coming up and you are far from completing it. With the sound of the clock ticking, ideas start to flow, and this project becomes effortless.

Stress, like anxiety, is a normal part of life. It comes and goes depending on the situation. The phenomenon can be beneficial since it is a pathway to enter a "flow state.There are two types of instances where people find themselves feeling stressed:

  1. 1
    Situations or events that put pressure on us, such as tight deadlines on a big project at work.
  2. 2
    Our reaction to being placed under pressure, such as completing or failing tasks due to a tight deadline.

As stated before, stress can be healthy. Being under pressure can revitalize you and give you an edge. However, high-levels of stress occurring on a regular basis can be harmful to your health.

What are the Three Types of Stress?

The feeling of stress occurs based on the event or situation that you currently find yourself in whether it be at work, school or at your house. Stress is categorized into three categories, and the severity ranges with each one. The three types are:

1. Acute Stress

Acute stress can occur when a challenge, a perceived threat, or something unexpected happens. Examples of this include: getting a speeding ticket, having an argument with a spouse, giving a speech. This type of stress can cause irritability, anxiety, sweating, headaches, stomach pains, or a rapid heartbeat.

2. Episodic Acute Stress

Episodic acute stress is a result of frequent acute stress. Furthermore, this can also develop from taking on too much responsibility. Those who worry a lot are more prone to experiencing this type of stress. One who has episodic acute stress can experience symptoms similar to acute stress, but they occur more often. Left unmanaged, symptoms can lead to clinical depression or heart disease.

3. Chronic Stress

Chronic stress occurs when constant stress persists over an extended period of time. This type of stress is most harmful to our overall health. Poverty, abuse of any kind, poor work environment, dysfunctional family, and unhealthy marriage are causes for chronic stress. If left untreated for an extended period can result in serious health problems such as insomnia, obesity, heart disease, hypertension, or diabetes.
Woman dealing with stress pains

Photo Credit: Keenan Constance | Unsplash.com

Symptoms of Chronic Stress

Additionally, chronic stress can cause physical problems in addition to its toll on one's mental health.

When stress occurs, your "fight or flight" response activates to help the body face stressful situations. Over time, the continuous activation of this response will cause wear and tear on your body.

Thus, physical and mental symptoms develop, which include: 

Physical Symptoms

  • Aches and Pains
  • Chest Pain
  • Exhaustion
  • Headaches & Dizziness
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Muscle Tension
  • Digestive Problems
  • Trouble Having Sex
  • Weak Immune System

Mental Symptoms

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Panic attacks
  • Panic attacks
  • Sadness

How is Stress Diagnosed?

Stress is subjective because it is not measurable with tests. A professional may use a questionnaire to understand how stress affects your daily life. While mental health professionals cannot diagnose stress, they can evaluate the symptoms of chronic stress and help you relieve the symptoms.

What are some stress relief strategies?

Stress stems from the situations that you are experiencing. While stress cannot be measured, there are many ways to find relief. Some of these strategies include:
  • Exercise
  • Meditation practices
  • Surround yourself with people who help you relax
  • Talk Therapy

Photo Credit: Priscilla Du Preez | Unsplash.com

Therapists use an array of different treatment types to help people cope with stress. Cognitive behavioral therapy for example, changes negative thought patterns, of which instigate stress. Utilizing this modality is effective for minimizing stress because it provides you with new ways to think about and address stress inducing events/situations.

Stress is a natural part of life, and there are many resources available to help you minimize the effects of stress. As mentioned above, left untreated, stress can cause some severe consequences. When in doubt, you can always talk with your doctor/therapist to discuss what you are experiencing and what can be done to help with the problem.

Sources
https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/stress/what-is-stress/
https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/11874-stress
https://www.flushinghospital.org/newsletter/the-3-different-types-of-stress-and-how-each-can-affect-our-health/

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.645498/full

Written by: Dave Bugg

Tags

cbt, healing journey, healthy habits, Mental health, stress, stress therapy, talk therapy, therapist, therapy


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