In our world today, we all experience stress in different forms from the child unborn to the aged. All round the clock, stressors beam at us, making our world difficult with a need to seek healthy ways to reduce stress.
Stress may result into significant negative consequence which can increase our health risks, this is known as DISTRESS. However, there are stresses whose consequences are helpful such as trying to meet a deadline, preparing for an examination or official engagement, these are known as EUSTRESS. It may seem that there’s nothing you can do about your stress level; the bills are not going to stop coming, there will never be more hours in the day for all your errands, and your career or family responsibilities will always be demanding. But you have a lot more control than you might think. In fact, the simple realization that you’re in control of your life is the foundation of Stress Management.
Managing stress is all about taking charge; taking charge of your thoughts, your emotions, your schedule, your environment, and the way you deal with problems. The ultimate goal is a balanced life, with time for work, relationships, relaxation, and fun, plus the resilience to hold up under pressure and meet challenges head on. Dealing with stressful conditions could be by changing the situation, that is, avoiding the stressor or altering the stressor; or changing your reaction by adapting to the stressor or accepting the stressor. Following some simple de-stress tips could lower your stress and lower your health risks, because managing your stress can make a real difference to your health. A study showed that women with heart disease lived longer if they manage stress properly; while another research revealed that some couples having infertility problems as a result of hormonal imbalances conceived after engaging in stress management steps.
Types of Stress
- Acute stress: It is the most common form of stress among humans worldwide. Acute stress deals with the pressures of the near future or dealing with the very recent past. This type of stress is often misinterpreted for being a negative connotation. While this is the case in some circumstances, it is also a good thing to have some acute stress in life. Running or any other form of exercise is considered an acute stressor. Some exciting or exhilarating experiences such as riding a roller coaster is an acute stress but is usually very enjoyable. Acute stress is a short term stress and as a result, does not have enough time to do the damage that long term stress causes.
- Chronic Stress: It is unlike acute stress. It has a wearing effect on people that can become a very serious health risk if it continues over a long period of time. Chronic stress can lead to memory loss, damage spatial recognition and produce a decreased drive of eating. The severity varies from person to person and also gender difference can be an underlying factor. Women are able to take longer durations of stress than men without showing the same maladaptive changes. Men can deal with shorter stress duration better than women can but once males hit a certain threshold, the chances of them developing mental issues and other health problems increase drastically.
COMMON SOURCES OF STRESS
- Family: Family stresses can have a big impact on us, such as: getting married; divorce; increase in financial obligations and debts; death of loved one; loss of member’s job; emotional problems (depression, anxiety, anger, grief, guilt, low self-esteem; chronic illness or injury; moving to a new home; taking care of an elderly or sick family member; traumatic event (such as theft, rape, violence against you or a loved one, natural disaster).
- Workplace: Stress in the workplace is a commonality throughout the world in every business. Managing that stress becomes vital in order to keep up job performance, as well as relationship with co-workers and employers. For some workers, changing the work environment relieves work stress and making the environment less competitive between employees decreases some amounts of stress. However, each person is different and some people like the pressure to perform better. Stress in the workplace doesn’t always have to be negatively viewed but when delivered or viewed accordingly, the performance of the worker can be good.Among the many stressors in workplace, the most common are: conflicts in Company; the way employees are treated by their Bosses/Supervisors or Company; lack of job security; Company policies; co-workers who don’t do their fair share; unclear expectations; poor communication; not enough control over assignments; inadequate pay or benefits; urgent deadlines; too much work; long hours; uncomfortable physical conditions; relationship conflicts; co-workers making careless mistakes; dealing with rude customers; lack of co-operation; how the company treats co-worker.
- College: College can be a stressful time for many students, as they adjust to a new and unfamiliar environment while transitioning from adolescence to adulthood. Nearly 80 per cent of College students report frequently dealing with daily stress. Sources of stress that influence College students’ stress levels include family and friends who are often physically farther away, as well as changes in communication patterns with these individuals and rigorous academic demands. Some students trying to cope with theses stressors go into alcohol and substance abuse. Sometimes, stress comes from inside, rather than outside. You can stress yourself out just by worrying about things. Others are fear and uncertainty; attitudes and perceptions, unrealistic expectations, and major life change.
Health Problems Related to Stress
Here are some of the most significant health problems related to stress.
1. Heart disease- High blood pressure, abnormal heartbeat, heart attack.
2. Asthma and arthritis- stress can worsen these conditions.
3. Weight gain (Obesity) or loss. Note that belly fats pose greater risks than fat on the legs or hips.
4. Diabetes– stress can worsen diabetes by increasing unhealthy eating and drinking behaviours. It can directly raise glucose levels.
5. Headaches– tension headaches, as well as migraines.
6. Depression, anxiety, irritability and fatigue.
7. Gastrointestinal problems– ulcers, heartburn, irritable bowel syndrome.
8. Changes in sex drive.
9. Fertility problems.
10. Alzheimer’s disease.
11. Accelerated aging as evidenced by premature greying of hairs e.t.c.
12. Difficulty in sleeping and concentrating
13. Skin problems – acne, eczema.
14. Premature death.
HEALTHY WAYS TO DE-STRESS
In quest to manage stress well, keep records of your stressful events by taking a daily log, you will begin to see patterns and common themes. To identify the sources of stress in your life, write down:
- What happened earlier, make a guess if you’re unsure.
- How you felt, both physically and emotionally.
- How you acted in response.
- What you did to make yourself feel better.
Dealing with Stressful Situations: When dealing with the stressor learn to change the situation by: avoiding and altering the stressor; Change your reaction by: accepting and adapting to the stressor.