WHAT IS STRESS?
Stress is a natural feeling of not being able to cope with specific demands and events. However, stress can become a chronic condition if a person does not take steps to manage it.
The body’s fight-or-flight mechanism tells a person when and how to respond to danger. When there are too many stressors at one time, it can undermine a person’s mental and physical health and become harmful.
Becoming easily agitated, frustrated, and moody
Feeling overwhelmed, as if you are losing control or need to take control
Having a hard time relaxing and quieting your mind
Feeling bad about yourself (low self-esteem)
Feeling lonely, worthless, and depressed
Upset stomach, including diarrhoea, constipation, and nausea
Aches, pains, and tense muscles
Chest pain and rapid heartbeat
Frequent colds and infections
Loss of sexual desire and/or ability
Nervousness and shaking, ringing in the ears, and cold or sweaty hands and feet
Dry mouth and a hard time swallowing
Clenched jaw and grinding teeth
Forgetfulness and disorganization
Inability to focus
Being pessimistic or seeing only the negative side
Changes in appetite -- either not eating or eating too much
Procrastinating and avoiding responsibilities
More use of alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes
Having more nervous behaviors, such as nail biting, fidgeting, and pacing
There is no single, specific treatment for stress, as there is no distinct medical diagnosis for it.
Below are a few treatment options that could be offered, once an evaluation has been done.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) focuses on helping people identify and change negative thinking patterns.
Medication may sometimes be prescribed to address some specific symptoms that are related to stress. Such medications may include sleep aids, antacids, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety medications.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Some complementary approaches that may also be helpful for reducing stress include acupuncture, aromatherapy, massage, yoga, and meditation.
Stress is inevitable, and it can be manageable. Here are some mechanisms to help with stress management:
Learn to recognize the signs of burnout.
High levels of stress may place you at a high risk of burnout. Burnout is a form of exhaustion caused by constantly feeling swamped. It's a result of excessive and prolonged emotional, physical, and mental stress. Burnout happens when you're overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to keep up with life's incessant demands. When you start to feel symptoms of emotional exhaustion, it's a sign that you need to take prompt action on implementing activities in your life that will reduce your stress.
Try to get regular exercise.
Physical activity has a big impact on your brain and your body. Exercise reduces stress and improves many symptoms associated with mental illness. The type of exercise is irrelevant. Exercise reduces levels of the body's stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that are the body's natural painkillers and mood elevators.
Examples include walking, stair climbing, jogging, dancing, bicycling, yoga, tai chi, gardening, weightlifting and swimming. You don't need to join a gym to get moving. Take a walk with the dog, try body-weight exercises or do a yoga video at home.
Take care of yourself.
Incorporating regular self-care activities into your daily life is essential to stress management. Self-care activities include:
Physical self care:
Getting enough sleep
Following a nutritional diet
Social self care:
Spending time with your friends
Strengthening your relationships with your family
Mental self care:
Reading a book
Learning about a subject that fascinates you
Spiritual self care:
This is not necessarily religious activities, it can be meditation or anything that helps you develop a deeper sense of meaning, understanding, or connection with the universe.
Emotional self care:
Talking to a partner or close friend about how you feel
Setting aside time for leisure activities that help you process your emotions
Practice mindfulness in your life.
Mindfulness isn't just something you practice for 10 minutes each day. It can also be a way of life. Discover how to live more mindfully throughout your day so you can become more awake and conscious throughout your life.
Examples of mindfulness:
It's hard to slow down and notice things in a busy world.
Live in the moment.
Try to intentionally bring an open, accepting and discerning attention to everything you do.
Treat yourself the way you would treat a good friend.
Focus on your breathing.