What is stress?

Stress is a mental, physical, and emotional response to a situation or incident that is perceived as challenging or threatening. It is a normal physiological response to challenges in life, and it helps us to cope with and adapt to difficult situations. A wide range of factors such as relationships, financial problems, work, and even routine tasks like commuting may contribute to causing stress in any person. When the body experiences stress, it releases hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol which formulate the body to react to the supposed danger, this is well-known as the “fight or flight” response.

 

What are the signs of stress?

The signs and symptoms of stress can differ from person to person and can also depend on the severity of the stress. Some common signs of stress include:

  • Emotional symptoms: Depression, anxiety, restlessness, irritation, and feelings of being overwhelmed.
  • Behavioural symptoms: Difficulty in concentration or nervous habits such as fidgeting, nail-biting, procrastination, and pacing.
  • Psychological symptoms: Sense of isolation, helplessness, or feeling of hopelessness.
  • Physical symptoms: Changes in sleep pattern or appetite, muscle tension, headaches, fatigue, and back pain.
  • Social symptoms: Difficulties connecting with others, avoiding social activities, and withdrawing from relationships.
  • Cognitive symptoms: Negative thoughts, worries, forgetfulness, and difficulties in making decisions.

It is important to note that these symptoms can also be caused by other factors, so it’s always a good idea to speak with a healthcare professional if you are concerned about your symptoms.

It’s also important to remember that stress can also be manifested in different ways in different people and that some people may not show any physical symptoms at all, but may be experiencing more internal psychological stress.

 

What effects does stress have on your health?

Chronic stress can have a negative impact on both physical and mental health. Some of the effects of stress on health include:

  • Respiratory health: Stress can cause breathing issues, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • Cardiovascular health: Stress can contribute to high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease. It can also cause an increase in heart rate and blood flow, which can result in an increased risk of stroke or heart attack.
  • Reproductive health: Stress can affect the menstrual cycle and cause infertility in women. It can also affect sexual function in both men and women.
  • Digestive health: Stress can cause stomach problems, such as acid reflux, ulcers, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
  • Mental health: Stress can cause or worsen mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • Immune system: Stress can weaken the immune system, making it more difficult for the body to fight off infection and disease.
  • Skin health: A variety of skin problems such as psoriasis, eczema, and hives can be resulted due to having stress.
  • Neurological and Cognitive effects: Stress can lead to headaches, memory loss, and difficulty focusing.

It’s important to note that stress can also exacerbate existing health problems and can make it more difficult to manage them. Therefore, it’s important to take steps to manage stress in order to maintain good physical and mental health.

 

What are the main causes of stress?

A wide range of positive and negative factors can cause stress in individuals. Some common causes of stress include:

  • Work stress: Long hours of work, job insecurity, tight deadlines, and workplace conflicts can result in stress.
  • Financial stress: This can include money problems, such as financial insecurity, unemployment, and debt.
  • Relationship stress: Conflicts with friends, family, or romantic partners, as well as the end of a relationship, can cause stress in respective persons.
  • Health stress: Illnesses and injuries are included in this along with the stress of caring for a loved one who is sick.
  • Chronic stress: Daily hassles such as a long commute, traffic, or dealing with difficult people can cause chronic stress.
  • Trauma: Due to experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event, such as a natural disaster, accident, or violence.

 

Life changes: This can include major life events such as moving, starting a new job, or having a baby, as well as more minor changes, such as planning a vacation or starting a new hobby.

It’s important to note that stress can also be caused by a combination of factors and that what might be stressful for one person may not be for another. Additionally, some people may be more susceptible to stress due to genetics, personality, or past experiences.

 

How can you manage your stress levels?

There are many ways to manage stress levels and what works for one person may not work for another. Some effective strategies for managing stress include:

Exercise: Regular physical activity can help reduce tension and improve mood. Activities such as brisk walking, running, cycling, swimming, or yoga can be particularly beneficial.

Time management: Prioritising tasks and setting realistic goals can help to reduce feelings of being overwhelmed.

Relaxation techniques: Deep and mindful breathing, meditation, and yoga can help to lessen stress and improve overall well-being. In addition, it will help you to focus on the present moment, which can reduce the negative effects of stress.

Social support: Talking to friends, family, or a therapist can help to process and cope with stress. Joining a support group or community can also provide you with a sense of belonging and can be helpful.

Healthy lifestyle: Eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep at least of 8 hours in night, and avoiding or limiting alcohol and caffeine intake can help to reduce stress levels.

Therapy: Therapy and counselling can help you understand and manage your stress by addressing the underlying causes, teaching you coping skills, and providing a supportive environment.

It’s important to remember that there is no one size fits all solution for managing stress, and different approaches may work better for different people. It’s important to experiment and find what works best for you. It’s also important to remember that managing stress is a constant process and it’s important to make it a part of your daily routine.

Please note: Advice and opinions in this article are not that of Medicine Drop. You should always consult your pharmacist or GP directly should you have any health related questions or concerns.

 

References

https://www.who.int/news-room/questions-and-answers/item/stress#:~:text=Stress%20can%20be%20defined%20as,to%20your%20overall%20well%2Dbeing.

https://www.nhs.uk/every-mind-matters/mental-health-issues/stress/#:~:text=Support%20for%20stress-,What%20is%20stress%3F,home%2C%20work%20and%20family%20life.

https://www.nhs.uk/every-mind-matters/lifes-challenges/

https://www.nhsinform.scot/healthy-living/mental-wellbeing/stress/what-to-do-if-you-are-struggling-with-stress