What is Stress? – Stress is the mental and physical reaction we make to help us adjust to various situations.
Every single moment of everyday our muscles and nervous system are in a constant state of tension.
A certain amount of stress is needed for quality of life and is known as Eustress or Good Stress.
But when tension levels increase beyond a certain point it becomes bad stress commonly known as Stress.
Stress becomes bad or negative and damaging when we remain in a constant state of tension for a long period of time.
Stress can be defined in many ways, the UK Health & Safety Executive defines stress as:
“The adverse reaction people have to excessive pressure or other types of demands placed on them“.
Some Key Points About Stress.
- Stress can be destructive when it turns into distress.
- Stress is not the pressure from outside – the argument, the traffic, the job etc. These are just the stressors. It s our response to these stressors that constitutes stress.
- Stress can be a turn-on. It can pump you up, energize you and supply a zest for life.
- Our internal stress coping mechanisms were developed to cope with life-threatening situations, the so-called “Fight or Flight”.
- The “Fight or Flight” developed from animals and primitive man’s need to take action. The whole body becomes mobilized, more powerful and effective for fighting or fleeing danger.
There Are Two Categories of Stressors:
Internal Forces – Our desires, expectations, wants, goals, hopes, dreams, thoughts, perceptions etc.
External Forces – The demands placed on us e.g. job, responsibilities, family obligations, life changes, financial, etc.
Types Of Stress
Acute – Natural disasters, crises – Usually short term such as exams, arguments, injury, illness etc.
Chronic – An accumulation of small things such as noise levels at work or home, annoying co-workers etc.
Specific Sensitivity – Events that have negative effects on one person more than others such as: fears of particular situations, phobias etc.
“A gift from nature that has been given us to deal with threatening situations.” — Pradeep Chadha; author of ‘The Stress Barrier’
The Four Major Sources Of Stress
1. Customary anticipated events: graduation from college, marriage, changing careers etc.
2. Unexpected life events: being involved in an accident, a victim of crime, sudden death of a loved one, losing a job etc.
3. Progressive accumulating events: boredom with career, messy office or home, cumulative job-related issues, ongoing conflict with spouse or children etc.
4. Personal trait stress: insecurity, lack of self-confidence, low self-esteem, shyness, feelings of jealously or inadequacy, fear or change, unsubstantiated worrying, perfectionism etc.
The Most Common Stressors
- Expectations –
- Our expectations of ourselves.
- Our expectations of others.
- Others’ expectations of us or our perception of what others expect of us.
- Conflicts with our values. –
- I need my space, don’t bother me.
- We must be a logical and rational.
- We must save money. We must keep the family secrets.
- Sex is okay once in a while.
- You must have a successful career.
- You must be here for the family or you don’t love me.
- Children should be raised; strictly.
- Commitments & Obligations. –
- Commitment is your willingness to pay up for choices good or bad that you made in the past (crashing the car and paying for the damages etc.).
- Obligation is your debt to society (jury duty etc.), family (weddings, funerals), or country (military service) that must be met.
- Situations beyond our control. –
- A debilitating illness.
- A tumultuous storm.
- An unstable job market.
- An end to a relationship.
- A sudden death.
- Time. – Poor Time Management.
Relaxation Skills Are Easily Learnt To Help Reduce The Physical And Mental Effects Of Stress.
A certain amount of stress is not a bad thing it helps us to achieve our goals but when it is long-term it can cause us to experience headaches, sweating and feelings of anxiety even long after the stress or stressor has past.
To get the better of stress you need to change your circumstances or your feelings towards them.
If these cannot be changed for any reason it will be easier to deal with stress if you develop new interests and/or hobbies in other parts of your life.
Relaxation – Everyone can benefit from learning to relax.
There are many different forms of relaxation including controlled breathing, yoga and meditation.
Meditation is one form of relaxation that has been proved to lower blood pressure and release tension in the muscles.
And by focusing your mind you can bring calmness and clarity to an otherwise out of control situation and turn off the Fight or Flight response in the human nervous system.