STRESS, just the mere mention of the term can cause splitting headaches or a chill up your spine. 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.

In today’s world, people in the workforce have been known to be ‘stressed out’ due to looming deadlines or an inability to do their assigned projects. It has also been exaggerated and people may say they are ‘stressed out’ over the slightest things when they are actually fine. Stress could also be a result of external factors outside the workforce such as a person’s domestic life, income issues or the current political climate. 

Stress can be a motivator, and it can even be essential to survival. The body’s fight-or-flight mechanism tells a person when and how to respond to danger. However, when the body becomes triggered too easily, or there are too many stressors at one time, it can undermine a person’s mental and physical health and become harmful. Many people often respond to stress in different ways, either mentally, physically or emotionally. The first step to relieving stress is to identify it immediately. 

Defining stress

Stress is a normal biological reaction to a potentially dangerous situation. When you encounter sudden stress, your brain floods your body with chemicals and hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol.

That gets your heart beating faster and sends blood to muscles and important organs. You feel energized and have heightened awareness so you can focus on your immediate needs. These are the different stages of stress and how people adapt.

There are several types of stress, including:

Acute stress

Acute stress happens to everyone. It’s the body’s immediate reaction to a new and challenging situation. It’s the kind of stress you might feel when you narrowly escape a car accident. Acute stress can also come out of something that you actually enjoy. It’s the somewhat-frightening yet thrilling feeling you get on a roller coaster or when skiing down a steep mountain slope.

These incidents of acute stress don’t normally do you any harm. They might even be good for you. Stressful situations give your body and brain practice in developing the best response to future stressful situations. Once the danger passes, your body systems should return to normal.

Severe acute stress is a different story. This kind of stress, such as when you’ve faced a life-threatening situation, can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other mental health problems.

Episodic acute stress

Episodic acute stress is when you have frequent episodes of acute stress.

This might happen if you’re often anxious and worried about things you suspect may happen. You might feel that your life is chaotic, and you seemingly go from one crisis to the next. Certain professions, such as law enforcement or firefighters, might also lead to frequent high-stress situations.

As with severe acute stress, episodic acute stress can affect your physical health and mental well-being.

Chronic stress

When you have high-stress levels for an extended period of time, you have chronic stress. Long-term stress like this can have a negative impact on your health. It may contribute to:

  • Anxiety
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Depression
  • High blood pressure
  • A weakened immune system

Chronic stress can also lead to frequent ailments such as headaches, an upset stomach, and sleep difficulties. Gaining insights into the different types of stress and how to recognize them may help.

Here are some common signs that an individual is under stress:

  • Pains and aches throughout the body
  • Muscle tension (neck, face, shoulders, etc)
  • Headaches
  • Digestive problems such as indigestion or upset stomach
  • Loss of appetite, eating too much or too little
  • Insomnia and other sleep problems
  • Racing heart and/or Sweaty palms
  • Feeling tired/lethargic
  • Weight loss/gain from stress eating
  • Difficulty concentrating and making decisions 
  • A feeling of boredom/not being there

While everyone exhibits the symptoms of stress differently, there is a common pattern when identifying stress and the exhibition of 2 or more of these symptoms should project the image of an individual who is stressed. 

Causes of Stress

People react differently to stressful situations. What is stressful for one person may not be stressful for another, and almost any event can potentially cause stress. There is no identifiable reason why one person may feel less stressed than another when facing the same stressor. Mental health conditions, such as depression, or a building sense of frustration, injustice, and anxiety can make some people feel stressed more easily than others, as to previous experiences which may affect how a person reacts to stressors.

Common major life events that can trigger stress include:

  • Living with Chronic Illness 
  • Having little work-life balance, Job Issues or Retirement
  • Bereavement
  • Family Problems
  • Moving Home
  • Relationships, Marriage, and Divorce

Other commonly reported causes of stress are:

  • Driving in heavy traffic or Fear of an accident
  • Excessive noise, overcrowding, and pollution
  • Fear of crime or problems with neighbors
  • Living through a natural or manmade disaster
  • Caregiving for a loved one with a chronic illness (for example dementia)
  • Abortion or pregnancy loss, pregnancy and becoming a parent
  • Living in poverty or being homeless
  • Uncertainty or waiting for an important outcome
  • Some people experience ongoing stress after a traumatic event, such as an accident or some kind of abuse.

There’s no end to the things that can cause a person stress because they’re as varied as people are. Whatever the cause, the effect on the body can be serious if left unmanaged. Now that we have identified the problem, it is time to find solutions. Once an individual recognizes the signs of stress, there are many tips and tricks that he/she could use to alleviate and reduce stress. 

Tips to reduce stress:

  • Accepting that certain events may be out of your control
  • Relaxation techniques (yoga, tai-chi, meditation)
  • Regular exercise 
  • Healthy diet
  • Avoid stressful activities
  • Explore a hobby/interest
  • Get enough sleep 
  • Socialise
  • Seek treatment with a trained professional

There are many methods to reduce the amount of stress in our lives. I am particularly fond of exercising as there is nothing that cannot be cured by a quick 30 minute run or jog. Jogs in the park or up a hill where the eye can see nothing but green can be the welcome change that a stressed out mind needs from our everyday concrete jungles.

One thing that is often overlooked by many is the need to get enough sleep or rest. Working into the late hours of the night is very unhealthy as it stops the body’s natural process in eliminating toxins. Another problem that often plagues individuals is the need to unwind on the weekends by spending hours partying or gaming into the night. Many think that this is the solution to stress but it is actually counterproductive as the body is not able to get enough rest. Doing fun things you enjoy is necessary but moderation is the key as too much fun does not give the body enough time to rest.

At Hi-Bliss, our hydrogen therapy helps reduce stress as the tiny hydrogen molecules are able to penetrate the epidermis and neutralise free-radicals that cause inflammation. Our certified physiotherapist will further help alleviate stress with light manipulation and exercise techniques suited to your condition. A visit to one of our centres would do with helping you de-stress. 

Let’s look at the effects stress has on our bodies and the simple ways to manage and relieve chronic stress in the next blog.

Learn more how Hi-Bliss Hydrogen Therapy can help reduce Stress here: https://hi-bliss.com/treatment-services-stress-relief/    

Sources

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/11874-stress