What Is Stress?
Stress is how your body responds to changes that happen mentally, physically, or emotionally. We experience stress on a day-to-day basis, and it is a normal part of our lives. And when it comes to how stress affects health and well-being, different levels of stress can affect us in various ways.
Small things such as forgetting to charge your phone, or not remembering the password to your e-mail account can cause minor stress. In contrast, more serious things such as being fired from a job or losing a loved one can cause major stress.
Stress can also accumulate over time. Experiencing minor stress constantly can lead to major stress. You might be okay with experiencing heavy traffic once a week, but when it happens everyday, then it can cause a lot of stress.
How Common Is Stress?
Worldwide, a large number of people are affected by stress. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared stress to be a health epidemic. This is how prevalent stress is, and this just shows how big of an impact stress can have on people.
You might even have experienced this firsthand, as the stress that we experience everyday just gets worse and worse. Health emergencies such as COVID-19 have also contributed to the stress that people are experiencing worldwide, and it is affecting people’s health.
How Stress Affects Health and Well-Being
In terms of how stress affects health and well-being, the effects of stress can be very significant. Stress can cause health problems, or trigger behaviors that can put someone’s health at risk.
Here are some of the possible effects of too much stress on a person:
- Dizziness, or feeling disoriented
- Aches and pains in the body
- Indigestion or stomach problems
- Loss of appetite
- Chest pain
- Feelings of irritability
- Lack of focus and motivation
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
The initial effects of stress are not always visible. But over time, the effects of stress can start to manifest and cause mental and physical problems, and can sometimes even damage relationships.
What Are The Symptoms of Stress?
Here are some of the symptoms of stress that you need to watch out for:
- A feeling that your heart is racing
- Feeling tired or exhausted
- Sudden weight gain or weight loss
- Sexual problems
- Aches and pains
- Feeling tense or wound up
- Difficulty sleeping
- Neck pain
If you notice that you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you could be suffering from too much stress.
Stress can be caused by a number of things, which can be referred to as stressors.
Stressors are not always negative things, as even positive things such as getting a promotion, finishing school, or having a child can be stressors.
Stress can also vary from person to person. What might be a stressful event for one person can be normal, or even enjoyable to someone else.
Your personality also plays a role when it comes to what you may or may not find stressful.
In general, here are some things that can cause stress:
- Major life changes, such as moving houses or getting married
- Difficulty at work or in school
- Relationship problems
- Problems with finances
- Struggles within your home
- Doing too many things at once
- Death of a loved one
- Losing a job
There are also some personality traits that can cause stress, such as:
- Having low self-esteem
- Being pessimistic
- Unable to accept change
- Being inflexible or too rigid
- Perfectionism, or having unrealistic expectations
Any combination of the things above can trigger a stressful episode.
Having stress is not a medical diagnosis, so doctors cannot diagnose if you have stress or not. However, certain health problems, such as heart disease, hypertension and diabetes can also be caused by stress.
The symptoms of heart attacks can sometimes be mistaken for the symptoms of stress, so it is always a good idea to consult your doctor whenever you feel anything out of the ordinary.
If you feel any of the symptoms of stress or think that you need help managing your stress, do not hesitate to seek help.
When Should I See My Doctor?
For the most part, stress can be handled without the help of a doctor. Treatment is not always needed for stress, but there are some cases where it could be necessary.
If you feel that you are not able to handle your stress, or if you are already taking steps to manage it but still experience the symptoms, it would be a good idea to talk to a therapist or counselor about it.
They would best be able to help you out and figure out what you can do in order to manage your stress.
Since stress is not a medical diagnosis there really is no way to “treat” stress. However, there are some things that you can do to help cope with and manage stress.
What Can You Do to Manage Stress?
Here are some of the things that you can do:
- Find out what things are causing you stress. This would help you figure out how to address the problem directly, or avoid anything that can trigger your stress.
- Meditation is a good way to help manage stress. Meditation can help lower your blood pressure, keep you calm, relaxed, and lower your stress hormones.
- Talking to a counselor or therapist can help you manage your stress, especially if you feel that you cannot handle it on your own.
- Taking a vacation, or even just a day-off to yourself can help you relax and de-stress.
Here are some ways that you can prevent stress:
- Avoid anything that can trigger your stress.
- Try to not overwork yourself, as working too much can cause stress.
- Spend time with your family and appreciate the small things in life.
- Take up a hobby so that you can relax and enjoy yourself.
- Exercise is also a good way to not just lower your stress levels, but also improve your health.
- Try to avoid being too critical of yourself. Negative thoughts can cause a lot of stress.
- Eating a healthy diet not only makes you feel good, but also helps your body handle stress better.
Stress is something that a lot of us experience. Feeling stressed out or tired is normal, and it happens from time to time.
However, constantly being under stress is not okay, and can negatively affect your health.
Knowing how stress affects health and well-being, and what steps to take to manage and prevent stress can help you live a stress-free life.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.