Stress: Definition, Signs, & When to Get Professional Help
Want to learn how to manage stress and get rid of it? This article delves deeper into this body response, providing you with useful information to help you stay ahead of it.
You’ll learn what stress is, how it affects your body, and effective tips for managing it. Importantly, you’ll find out when to consider getting professional help and how text therapy can help you.
What Is Stress?
What is stress? It is your body’s response to a challenge or demand. Both small events and major ones (e.g., divorce or losing a job) can trigger stress.
And though we mainly associate stress with the negative events, positive ones, e.g., being promoted at your job, can also lead to stress.
H2: What Happens to Your Body When You Experience Stress?
Our bodies react differently when we experience stress. Your physical stress response can be reflected in increased heart rate and blood pressure, sweating, or muscle tension.
Stress hormones are behind your bodily stress manifestations. Your body produces them to enable you to handle various pressures and risky situations. This response is known as the “fight-or-flight” response.
When undergoing stress, your body releases adrenaline and noradrenaline hormones. They work to improve your heart rate while preparing your body for emergency response.
The mentioned hormones might also minimize the flow of blood to your skin as well as stomach activity. Meanwhile, cortisol, another stress hormone, might trigger sugar release into your body to increase your energy levels.
As the hormones are in action, your body might exhibit various signs. These include:
- Muscle tension
- Body aches
- Rapid, shallow breathing
You put yourself at risk of a stroke or heart attack in the long run if you do not manage your stress.
The changes your body undergoes when you feel stressed make it easier for you to fight or take flight. After either action is taken and the stressor is eliminated, your stress hormones will go back to normal levels.
If you are constantly stressed, your stress hormones stay at high levels, resulting in the above manifestations. The accumulation of these hormones over a long time can expose you to severe health conditions.
What Are the Emotional Effects of Stress?
Besides bodily changes, you might also exhibit emotional stress responses such as fear, anger, irritability, worry, and anxiety. These feelings can make you withdraw from others and can sometimes compound on each other and overwhelm you.
It’s also common to exhibit non-ending worry, obsession with a thought/idea, rumination, and racing thoughts when you are stressed.
What Are Healthy Ways to Manage and Relieve Stress?
Looking for some great stress management tips? If you feel stressed, there are some healthy, practical ways to relieve the pressure and take charge of your life.
Here are 10 tips to help you:
Integrating physical exercise into your life is an excellent way to relieve and keep stress at bay. Besides elevating your mood instantly, exercise improves your sleep, and with enough sleep, you can manage stressful events better.
You do not have to work out so hard. The idea is to get to your point where your activity releases endorphins, making you feel better.
Stress is directly related to your eating habits. When you are overwhelmed, you’ll tend to eat poorly. You’ll crave sugary and fatty foods, which do less in helping you ward off stress.
Go for foods rich in vitamins and minerals, as these nutrients are good for your brain. Also, to make it easy to sustain a healthy habit, consider having a balanced meal.
Troubled sleep is a sure tell-tale sign of stress. To ensure that you get quality sleep time, consider adopting some healthy habits into your daily routine.
You could start exercising regularly, go out more, set a specific window for sleeping and waking up, and try mediation or other relaxation techniques before bed.
Learn to Manage Your Time Better
Your stress might be a result of being overwhelmed by responsibilities. Want to know how to deal with stress by being a better time manager?
Take charge of your life by learning how to stay organized always. You could create a realistic to-do list to keep you focused. This way, you can avoid panicking simply at the thought of your tasks.
Practice Relaxation Techniques
Coping with stress, especially in these difficult and uncertain times when the world is dealing with a pandemic, is hard. To manage and overcome stress, you can start doing relaxation techniques at home, in the office, or anywhere.
Many of the following techniques are known to reduce stress, irritability, and anxiety:
- Yoga: yoga movements focus on body stretches, deep breathing, and slow moves.
- Meditating: meditation can lift your mood, increase your energy, bring down stress, and even help you sleep better.
- Breathing exercises: utilizing the best breathing app and incorporating slow and deep breaths into your daily routine can help your body and mind relax.
- Others: tai chi, guided imagery, journaling, “worry time,” etc.
Instead of picking one technique, you can try out two or more to see how your body and mind respond to them. Start with a couple of minutes of each technique that you’ve chosen a day and gradually increase the time.
Remember, you should always do your practice in a quiet and comfortable place.
Make Room for Your Favorite Activities
Hobbies are an excellent way to unwind, especially if you are under a lot of pressure. Engaging in something you like induces feel-good emotions, which in turn combat stress.
The good thing is that you don’t need tons of free time to enjoy your hobby. About 20-30 minutes a day is enough time to focus on relaxing activities of interest.
Identify and Work on Your Stress Triggers
Stress and anxiety have underlying triggers or causes you have to know to eliminate or reduce them. These triggers can be anything — from your job issues to your relationships with your partner.
The best way to know them is to keep a journal where you write down events and how they make you feel.
However, knowing your triggers doesn’t always mean that you can remove them from your life and live stress-free. Some causes, like your job or family, can be reduced/managed rather than eliminated.
Give Yourself a Break
The effects of stress are often overwhelming, even when you try hard to overcome them. Simply accepting that you can’t control everything that happens around you can be good for your mental health. Be ambitious and driven, but also realistic and practical, knowing that you can only do so much at a time.
Take some time off when you are feeling overwhelmed to clear your mind and re-energize.
Surround Yourself with People
Spending some quality time regularly with friends and family can help you feel joy. Just talking to someone else, preferably a good listener, can help you ease some of the stress you’re struggling with now.
In addition to alleviating your stress levels, social interaction can also help fight off anxiety and depression.
Open up About Your Struggles
Talking in itself can offer stress relief. If you have something on your mind weighing you down, consider confiding in a friend, spouse, relative, therapist, close colleague, etc. If you feel that you can’t confide in a third-party for any reason, try positive self-talk.
Everyone does some form of self-talk, whether consciously or subconsciously. However, remember that your goal is to battle stress. Be positive and counter a negative mindset by practicing positive affirmations.
When to Seek Professional Help for Stress
If you don’t know how to manage stress or are having difficulty doing so, seek professional help. Everyone’s situation, struggles, and issues are unique. So, while the above tips will work for some people, they may not work for others.
Therapy is a sure way to get personalized professional help to deal with stress and its triggers.
You should also consider therapy if you’re dealing with other mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Recommend therapy to your friend or family member if you suspect that they are dealing with a lot of stress or any mental health problem.
Today, you can get therapy online. It is especially affordable, flexible, and convenient on Calmerry.
Author’s Bio: Kate has a B.S. in Psychology and an M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University and has been working in healthcare since 2017. She mainly treated depression, anxiety, eating disorders, trauma, grief, identity, relationship, and adjustment issues. Her clinical experience is focused on individual and group counseling. Follow Kate here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kate-skurat-5348381b9/