What does it feel like when projects keep piling up, debts keep growing, the family keeps arguing with you, or your salary is taking too long? You can imagine one such situation and notice how your heartbeats rise rapidly. This is what we call ‘stress’. So, what causes of stress play an important role in spoiling our days?
Like in physics, every action has an equal and opposite reaction; our body does the same in the presence of potential pressure. These triggering situations also have a fancy name – Stressors.
Our life is inevitably full of stressors wherever we go. While most of them are harmless in life, some induce ongoing stress (perhaps for years even).
Stressors like workload, standing in a long queue, being unable to ace a particular test, and a one-time argument with your family or partner, are all short termed and induce Acute Stress.
What Are Acute Stress And Chronic Stress?
Acute stress is when the stressors are limited to a short period of time and don’t carry any longer consequences or significance. Generally, this type of stress is manageable and sometimes even good for your body.
When we get stressed, our blood pressure and heart rate increase while a few hormones are released that help in metabolic activity.
Therefore, in other words, stress is good for you.
On the other hand, Chronic stress is when the stress remains for a longer time. This may end up in the dysfunction of various parts of your life. It is also related to a major cause such as divorce, job loss, or losing a loved one.
Signs Of Chronic Stress
It can involve a variety of physical, emotional, and mental signs. Major ones include:
- An Increase in appetite (towards sugary or greasy foods)
- Digestive problems
- Inability to memorize or concentrate
- Slow brain development
- Reduced muscle mass
- Depression or chronic sadness
- Frequent mood swings
- No interest in performing any activity
- Substance abuse
- Degraded skin and hair loss
And the list goes on.
What Are The Effects Of Chronic Stress On You?
As stated earlier, any cause of stress can affect you in several ways- physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, etc.
Physically, it affects a part of your brain that controls pituitary hormonal secretion and eventually release stress hormones from the adrenal gland (located in both the kidneys). These stress hormones: Cortisol and Adrenaline, cause a rapid flow of blood and higher immunity in the body.
Surely, this is good for some time but works the opposite way after a certain limit of time. Our immunity actually begins to deteriorate and we get stomach irritability, leading to ulcers. A part of our brain responsible for functions like memory and focus starts to shrink in size.
This doesn’t seem like a good consequence, does it?
If this wasn’t enough then it affects us mentally too. Does the pressure of a regular workload make you want to crave desserts or join frequent alcohol parties?
Prolonged stress induces a feeling of sadness that is overtaken by the cravings for sugary and greasy foods. And these foods release a hormone in your body that causes a sense of euphoria. Hence, the cycle of binge-eating gets on track.
You may also feel like wanting to be isolated or depressed. This is so because stress makes you seek comfort in everything. Your mental health may start going downhill and panic attacks would arise.
Emotionally, you start losing confidence and trust in yourself. It is tougher for you to solve any given problem now than you could do easily before.
Illnesses Caused By Stress
As you’ve read above too much stress can promote precursors of bigger problems in the body. Here, we’ll go briefly through them.
- Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD): In this, the acid from the stomach may enter the gut due to the failure of the sphincter (gate) between both.
- Gastric Ulcers: Gastric ulcers are, in simpler words, sores inside the stomach caused due to high acidity.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): This is directly related to your large intestine. The symptoms may include diarrhea, bloating, constipation, abdominal pain, etc.
- Alzheimer’s Disease: Medical term for long-term memory loss
- Asthma: Can occur or is promoted because of shortness of breathing caused by stress
- Risks of heart stroke
- Atherosclerosis: Shrinking of blood vessels carrying blood to the heart (leading up to heart attack in the future). Also one of the most life-threatening consequences of chronic stress.
- Depression and anxiety disorders: PTSD, ADHD, OCD, Schizophrenia, etc., are some anxiety disorders caused due to stress.
How To Manage Stress In Life
Out of the plethora of ways cited online, you need to understand that getting the right information should be your priority.
The management of stress is similar to the management of anger. It is not easy to see permanent changes in one single day but over time.
The main motive is to understand how you react to different situations. If your reaction span is elongated and you remain calm in tough situations, then you’re already good at managing stress. And If your reaction to such a situation makes you panic easily, here are 10 main tips to manage your stress:
- Take good care of your body and exercise
- Talk to someone
- Do breathing exercises
- Learn to build patience
- Find a positive stress outlet (like listening to music, cooking, etc.)
- Avoid substance abuse (such as alcohol and drugs)
- Keep a good sleeping routine
- Eat healthily
- Avoid morning news (newspaper, TV, or social media)
With time, you will find yourself shifting from a reactive person to a patient one. It is necessary to know that these ways of managing your stress will help you if you perform them.
Also, different people have different ways of coping.
Stress is a part of our daily life. If taken in short term, it benefits our health since stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline help in metabolic activity and increased hit of excitement.
However, it gets complicated after a point. The stress starts damaging us physically, emotionally, and mentally. That’s why it is essential to manage it.
The two major types: Acute stress and Chronic stress differ in their stressors and intensity a lot. Acute stress doesn’t affect us for our lifetime but Chronic stress sure does. It is also linked with serious incidents like a major injury, loss of a loved one, divorce or breakup, job loss, and so on.
Stress can also cause several diseases and chronic maladies (like depression) which makes it all the more important to not neglect it.
In order to get more patient, you’ll need to take small and regular steps. Above are 10 key ways to manage the stress that you can follow towards a nicer life.
In addition, keep this in your mind – “The stress doesn’t bring so much instability as your reaction to it does.”
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Ans. Stress can be caused by various triggers. The 5 main causes of stress are:
1. Heavy workload
2. Conflicts within the family or with partner(s)
3. Financial struggles
4. Failures in the professional career
5. Emotional or mental strain (because of the environment)
Ans. Nowadays, the study pressure on students is growing exponentially.
The reasons can be many such as extra responsibilities besides studies, hectic time management, loads of syllabus, peer pressure, parental pressure, social issues like bullying and/or harassment, social media validation, and so on.
Ans. To manage stress better, you need to learn how to adjust to a situation better. Mostly our reaction to a specific situation causes us to worry and stress. This can otherwise be avoided with effective mental control exercises like meditation, journaling, music therapy, and self-talk for 1 hour on a regular basis.