Stress is a mental, physical or emotional response that causes your mind and body to work differently. It is part of the basic survival mechanism in which you either fight it out or run away.
During times of stress, chemicals are released into your bloodstream, Adrenaline, Nor-Epinephrine, Cortisol, Dopamine and Serotonin. Cortisol is the hormone that puts the body into an “alert” state, increasing your heart rate and blood pressure in order to process more oxygen.
If we lived in a world with no stress we would not be able to survive because our bodies would not know what to do when we encounter dangerous situations like:
- getting attacked;
- getting robbed;
- or not having enough food.
Stress is something we cannot avoid because it's part of our everyday lives. So we must learn how to control the way our bodies react to stress.
Dr. Andrew Weil, Director of the Program in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona, says that stress is the result of bad or negative life experiences. He says that many people suffer from severe anxiety, depression, and substance abuse and sometimes even physical illness because they are not able to cope with stress effectively.
Stress Crisis During The Coronavirus Pandemic
The American Psychological Association (APA) surveys individuals in the United States every year about stress. The aim of the study is to determine the cause of stress, sources, intensity and how most individuals are responding to stress both physically and mentally.
The 2020/2021 APA stress survey shows that many Americans just like other people around the world have adversely been affected by Covid-19 related economic and external issues. The potential long-term consequences of Covid-19 are very hard to predict and they are increasingly causing stress and trauma.
How Common Is Stress Around The World?
Stress is extremely common among people all around the world. Rarely, you can escape stress but in recent years, stress has become one of the most common causes of trauma and depression. According to American Psychological Association 2019, more than three-quarters of adults around the world report symptoms of stress such as sleeping issues, headaches, diarrhea and tiredness.
At the same time, more than 8% of all the workers in the US say they experience stress in the workplace to the extent of quitting. In 2020 and 2021, nearly half of the adult Americans claim that the stress caused by Covid-19 related economic issues has affected their behaviour.
In 2019, more than one-third of the world's adult population reported facing stress at a point in their life. They reported being stressed. Angry and worried. According to our World in Data, 2017, more than 284 million people around the world have an anxiety disorder. The most stressed nations around the world are Greece (59%), the Philippines (58%), Tanzania (57%), Albania (55%), Iran (55%) and the United States of America (55%).
What Causes Stress?
There are many causes of stress but some of the causes of stress among the people are mentioned below:
1) Financial Problems
Financial problems are a major cause of stress among people. They suffer from financial problems due to loss of job or poor salary which causes them a lot of mental stress. It may also be the result of high-interest rates on loans and debts which causes great discomfort to a person.
2) Family Issues
Stress caused by family problems is another cause of stress among people. A person may be facing stress from his/her spouse, children or parents due to various reasons such as addiction, psychological issues or separation from a loved one. It can also be due to a lack of proper communication between the family members which causes a lot of mental discomfort to a person.
3) Health Problems
Health problems are the leading causes of stress among people as they directly affect a person's lifestyle by causing pain and uneasiness. A person may suffer from a chronic disease that makes him/her weak and sick all the time. Not being able to lead a normal life, enjoying and relaxing can cause a lot of stress and depression to a person.
4) Work-Related Problems
Work-related problems are the most common causes of stress among people as they may suffer from lack of promotion, increase in work hours, workload and overtime which directly affects their mental health. They may also face issues such as discrimination at their workplace due to different factors such as race, caste or colour which causes a great amount of mental stress and uneasiness to a person.
5) Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is another cause of stress among people. A person's relationship with his/her spouse may be going through a rough phase because of some reasons such as addiction, poor communication or infidelity which may cause mental stress to the person.
6) Death Of A Loved One
The death of a loved one is one of the leading causes of stress among people. A person may suffer from a great amount of stress when his/her loved ones die due to natural or accidental reasons which result in a great deal of mental discomfort to the person.
7) Unfavourable Socio-Cultural Practices
Unfavourable socio-cultural practices are also among the leading causes of stress among the people as they may suffer from many issues such as dowry, child marriage, age-old traditions which directly affect their lifestyle and mental health.
Finances are a main cause of stress among people. Financial problems are caused by loss of jobs or poor salary which causes mental stress to the person. It is also the result of high-interest rates on loans and debts which causes discomfort to a person.
What Is The Importance Of Stress Management?
The basic definition of stress management is the systematic process that one employs to handle different sources of stress. It helps in preventing and dealing with problems related to stress such as health issues, relationship issues and psychological issues.
These days there are many professionals who actually help people manage their stress levels. They deal with problems related to emotional, mental, physical and social issues. By doing so, they help people achieve levels of well-being that will help them to lead better lives. There are a couple of strategies of stress management that will be discussed later.
What Is Good Stress?
Good stress is necessary as it actually keeps us going and helps in achieving goals. It is the kind of stress that one feels when he/she challenges themselves to complete some task or accomplish some goal.
Without any doubt, it helps one in achieving more success and growth in their personal and professional life. But the thing is when good stress becomes an uncontrolled source of negative energy then it can definitely cause damage to one's physical and mental health. So if you want to make sure that good stress does no harm to you, you need to control and manage it.
How To Differentiate Between Good And Bad Stress?
There are a couple of signs and symptoms by which you can differentiate between good and bad stress. Here we go:
If you feel energized and experience little or no negative health issues when experiencing good stress, then it is actually good for you.
But if you feel exhausted and suffer from so many physical and mental problems, then most probably it is actually bad stress for you.
So knowing the difference between good and bad stress will help you in taking proper actions to deal with stressful situations. It will also help you know which kind of professional help is required to overcome problems related to stress such as joining a group therapy session or watching an inspirational movie etc.
Stress Management Strategies
There are a couple of stress management strategies that can help you in managing your stress levels. Some of them are discussed below:
1) Relaxation Strategies
Relaxation strategies are one of the main stress management techniques which enable people to deal with problems related to stress.
There are a couple of relaxation techniques such as:
a) Progressive Muscle Relaxation: It is also one of the best ways to relax and it helps in relaxing all your muscles by taking slow and deep breaths. You can perform this technique while sitting on a comfortable couch or chair. Here's how you do it step by step: – Close your eyes and try to relax all the muscles of your body starting from your head, neck, shoulders, chest muscles, arms, hands, stomach area and thighs. After trying to relax each muscle group for a while take slow and deep breaths while you do so. Try to concentrate on breathing in positive thoughts or images throughout this process. Do this for 10 to 15 minutes daily.
b) Deep Breathing: This relaxation technique is also called diaphragmatic breathing and it's one of the simplest ways to deal with problems related to stress. Here's how you do it step by step: – Sit comfortably on a couch or chair and try to relax all your muscles. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach area. – Now take long, deep breaths for about 5 to 10 seconds (breathe in deeply). Try to make sure that before breathing out you first empty your lungs completely. Search for your abdomen's outward movement as it reduces stress symptoms quickly.
c) Progressive Relaxation: This technique of relaxation is a combination of both the strategies mentioned above. It helps in achieving a more holistic and deep sense of relaxation. As this strategy includes all steps involved in both the techniques of progressive muscle relaxations and deep breathing, it enables you to more quickly reduce stress levels when compared to performing these techniques individually.
2) Visualization Strategies
This is also one of the best ways for stress management. Imagining yourself in a peaceful and calm surroundings can help you become more relaxed. Here's how you do it step by step: – Sit comfortably on your couch or chair and close your eyes. Then try to visualize yourself standing near the ocean or riverside or standing under a waterfall. Try to focus on the beautiful and calm surroundings. – Once done, try to imagine yourself floating away in a pool of water or just floating in space just like astronauts do while wearing their spacesuit.
Yoga can help you relax your body and mind and improve your overall health at the same time. People suffering from problems related to stress often go for yoga classes either on their own or in groups.
Meditation is an ancient relaxation technique that enables you to get rid of your problems related to stress just by sitting calmly and focusing on your breathing pattern for about 15 minutes daily. You can perform this technique while standing, sitting or even lying down.
This is also one of the simplest ways to overcome stress as a good massage session enables you to relax all your body muscles and reduces stress as well as anxiety levels just by making you feel better physically as well as mentally. Here's how you can treat yourself with a good massage session: – Either you can go to a spa, massage parlor or even give yourself a massage at home. – Try to relax all your body muscles and give yourself an overall good body rubdown for about 40 minutes daily.
6) Yoga Breathing
You can also perform yoga breathing which is one of the most effective relaxation techniques in order to get rid of your stress and anxiety problems. Here's how you do it: – Sit comfortably either on a chair or on the floor and concentrate on exhaling all the air from your lungs. Empty your lungs completely and then try to repeat this process two more times in order to perform an equal number of inhalation, holding the breath and exhalation.
7) Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Relaxing your muscles can help you reduce stress as well as anxiety levels. Here's how you do it step by step: – Sit comfortably on a chair or couch and close your eyes. Try to relax all your body muscles one after another starting from the top of your head downwards to your toes. Remember not to tighten your muscles while trying to relax them as it will increase the stress symptoms instead of decreasing them.
8) Feed Yourself
You should also try to maintain a healthy diet and eat foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids such as salmon, tuna etc. Avoid taking junk food such as burgers, fries etc. If you feel stressed, don't buy any junk food items and try to think of better cooking options.
Exercising daily for about 20 minutes can be beneficial in managing stress levels. You must include exercise in your lifestyle which will not just reduce stress but also enable you to feel good physically as well as mentally.
Home Remedies For Stress Management
Stress is a part of our daily lives. It cannot be avoided completely because it stimulates the body to react accordingly to various situations. But, if stress comes hand in hand with other physical and psychological problems, then you need to know how to manage it healthily. Here are some proven ways through which you can cope with stress and lead a healthy life. Check these Home remedies for stress management.
Exercise is a proven way to manage stress. It relaxes your mind and helps you take your attention off the stressful situations that you are going through. Exercise has also been found to be an effective method of preventing heart diseases, high blood pressure and stroke as well as controlling weight gain.
Writing stories about stress and sparing time to share everything about it can raise awareness and at the same time help in stress management.
Talking to someone about your stress helps you get rid of it. It also gives you a clear perspective about the situation and its solution. Sharing your feelings helps in identifying what triggers stress and how to avoid it in future.
Listening To Music
Listening to music can help you relax and take your mind off the stress. It is one of the best forms of meditation that reduces blood pressure, heart rate and anger too.
Surrounding yourself with people who are not stressful or negative can be helpful in managing stress. Positive thinking will help you through stressful situations at home or at work.
Getting sufficient sleep during the night is essential for good health. It also helps the body to rejuvenate itself which reduces stress levels.
Yoga can be practiced daily to reduce stress and bring about a feeling of relaxation in your mind and body. The breathing exercises that are part of yoga help you release endorphins that reduce stress and the subsequent feelings of anger and hostility.
- Gargling with a solution of 1 tsp. salt and baking soda in 1 cup of water can help to reduce stress.
- Inhaling the steam from a bowl containing 2 tbsp. each vinegar, lavender oil and peppermint oil can also work as an effective stress reliever.
- Pine needle tea is found to be helpful in relieving tension and stress.
Listening to music is the best way to cope with stress and relax your mind. Researchers found that listening to music had a profound effect on people suffering from psychological distress and physical pain. Music therapy has been used for decades as a way of reducing stress, anxiety and depression in adults and children alike. You can relax your mind by listening to soft, soothing music.
Take Regular Breaks
You may not be able to avoid stress, but you can take control of it and manage it better if you take regular breaks during stressful times. Taking short breaks at work helps you to relax and continue with the situation positively.
Spend Time With Animals
Spending time with animals can reduce stress too. Spending quality time with your pet is the best way to relax, especially after a hectic day at work. A recent study shows that caring for crickets can improve your natural health being and help solve stress.
Eat Healthy Food
Avoid eating junk food and oily snacks when you are stressed out because they do not provide any nutritional value to the body and only increase jitteriness. Eating healthy can help you manage stress levels better. If you are diabetic, then it is best to consult your doctor before following any diet plan that has no or minimal carbohydrates included in the food.
People who eat dark leafy green vegetables have lower stress hormone levels than individuals who do not consume them regularly, found researchers at Penn State University, US.
Chew Gum Or Chew On A Cinnamon Stick
Chewing gum can help you relax and reduce stress. Chewing cinnamon sticks is also found to be effective in reducing stress in workers in computer-intensive jobs. Chewing alone quiets the body, reduces tension and helps in relaxation.
Drinking at least 8-10 glasses of water a day can help you reduce stress. According to a study published in the journal, “Behavioural Brain Research,” increased water intake reduces the negative effects of stress on cognitive function and decision making.
Do Autogenic Training
In this simple technique, you need to focus your attention on different parts of your body from head to toe, and you will feel relaxed afterwards. First, think of a statement that starts with “my arms are heavy.” Then take a long inhale through your nose and exhale slowly. Repeat the same for each body part until you reach your toes. It slows down your heart rate thus reducing stress levels too.
Ask For Help
Don't hesitate to ask for help if you feel stressed out. Reaching out to family and friends can reduce your stress levels as they offer emotional support that you may not be able to get from anyone else. You may even consider professional counselling if the problem is more serious and requires expert advice and guidance.
We’ve discussed all ways and strategies you can use to overcome your stress. Hope you liked this article and feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
I trust you enjoyed this article about Stress Management. Please stay tuned for more blog posts to come shortly.
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Thoughts? Ideas? Questions? I would love to hear from you. Please leave me your questions, experience, and remarks about Stress Management in the comments section below. You can also reach me by email at Jeannette@Close-To-Nature.org.
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