Stress refers to the unpleasant emotional reaction a person has when he or she perceives an event to be threatening. The emotional reaction may include heightened physiological arousal, reflecting increased reactivity of the sympathetic nervous system. The stressor is the event itself. A person’s efforts to reduce stress are called Coping.
Little events can have big impacts, especially when they build up in a short period. Events called hassles can have significant effects on health when there are enough of them, and you interpret them negatively.
It is all around work, your environment, and your personal lives. If you are not only late for class but get into an argument with your friend, stub your toe, spill your coffee, and miss your bus home, you will have many potentially stress-causing events in one afternoon s someone experiencing a ‘bigger’ life event such as going out on a first date or job interview.
Stress has become an inevitable companion today in all fields of life whether a person is an office goer getting late for office or overburdened teacher or student or overworked housewife or a farmer tilling the field under the hot sun or a soldier standing guard on snow-clad mountains or a patient waiting for endlessly for his turn to meet the doctor.
On the positive side, you can balance your hassles which are called uplifts, which are events on a small scale that boost your feelings of well-being.
The two basic ways of coping are:
- Problem-Focused Coping: You attempt to reduce stress by acting to change whatever it is that makes the situation stressful.
- Emotion-Focused Coping: You don’t change the situation, but instead change the way you feel about it.
The experience of stress can also be related to sleep disorders. Socio-cultural factors also play a role in causing and aggravating stress-related disorders.
Stress management and coping have become a significant concern for Psychologists, Physiologists, Psychiatrists, and Clinicians.
According to Sarason, Brown, and Mcgill, stress is the response to events that threaten or challenge a person. Whether it be a paper or examination deadline, a family problem or even a full circumstance is known as a stressor that produces threats to your well-being.
Stress was the rise in prices, 82% of Indians are stressed out today. 87% of everyday items are due to inflation - gas prices, energy bills, grocery costs, 81% followed by supply chain issues, and 81% by global uncertainty.
COVID-19 pandemic triggers, a 25% increase in the prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide.
Parents overwhelmingly reported concerns regarding children's development, including 73% social life or development, 71% academic development, and 71% emotional health or development.
More than half of Americans 56% have said that since the pandemic started, they could have used more emotional support than they received, and 21% could have used a lot more emotional support.
Causes of Stress
Stress as a state of psychological upset
- Pressures: internal or external pressure
Stress as a class of Stimuli
- Meals not served
- Cab or bus is not on time
- Broken appliances
- Other people's irritating behaviour
- Due to the supply of electricity or cooking gas
Stress due to situations
- Losing a job
- Marital discord
- Financial liabilities beyond one’s income
- A severe illness
- Death of a loved one or someone known
Responses of Stress
- Feeling strong emotions: sad, fear, grief, rage
- Having unwanted, intrusive thoughts about events
- Resistance to thinking about events
- Temporary physical symptoms: headaches, stomach distress
- Resuming one’s normal pattern of life
- Being overwhelmed by intense emotions; experiencing panic or fatigue
- Having disturbed, persistent images and thoughts that interfere with usual functioning
- Massive denial
- Long-term problems inability to love to work
Physiological and Psychological Reactions to Stress
- Faster heartbeat
- Rapid and irregular breathing
- Increase in blood pressure
- Pumping of stored sugar into the blood steam
- Change in perspiration and secretion of glands
- Fatigue, headaches, backaches, skin rashes, indigestion, and constipation
- Task-oriented reaction: Attacking behaviour, Compromising behaviour, Withdrawal behaviour
- Ego defence-oriented reactions
How to cope with stress
There are approaches to any difficult situation - Grounding, unhooking, acting on your values, making room, engaging, and being kind.
- Ground yourself during emotional storms by noticing your thoughts and feelings, slowing down and connecting with your body by slowly pushing your feet into the floor, stretching and breathing
- Refocusing and engaging with the surrounding
- Noticing that a difficult thought or feeling has hooked you. Realizing that you are distracted by a difficult thought or feeling, and notice it with curiosity
- Silently name the difficult thought or feeling
- Refocus on what you are doing
- Change what can be changed, accept what cannot be changed, and live by your values
- Give up and move away from your values
- Notice pain in yourself and others but respond with kindness. Unhook from unkind thoughts by noticing and naming them.
- Try speaking to yourself kindly. If you will be kind to yourself, you will have more energy to help yourself and others and will feel motivated
- Trying to push away difficult thoughts and feelings. Instead, make room for them
How to Manage Stress
Physiological Coping Techniques: Relaxation, Mediation, Controlled breathing
Behavioral Coping Techniques
Time management - make a list of things, arrange your list in priority, set aside a block of time, be flexible, and plan for leisure activity: avoid overloading, stop procrastination
- Be yourself
- Be task oriented
- Be patient
- Be realistic
- Have a constructive work
- Use supportive relationships
Cognitive Coping Techniques
Cognitive Restructuring: This is the process of replacing negative appraisals of stressors with more positive ones.
Cognitive Appraisal: It can help you deal with the sources of stress that you might not generate yourself, and it can help reduce the negative feelings that often accompany exposure to stressful events or situations.
When coping is unsuccessful, and the stress does not subside, the individual may seek clinical attention for medical or psychological aroused caused by chronic stress.
Quality sleep, lesser screen time, taking time out for a workout, having a potent, nutritious diet, and many more mindful measures can help you adopt and live life better.
Awareness about mental health and the destigmatizing of mental illnesses is still bleak. Despite the advent of the internet, there are still a lot of myths, taboos, and misinformation about mental well-being. Seeking therapy or going to a psychologist or consulting a psychiatrist, or being open about how you feel doesn't make a person weak, or bad. Mental illnesses should in no way be stigmatized and the right help, taken at the right time can nip a lot of problems in the bud.
About the writer
Anamika is a Clinical Psychologist. She specializes in Exceptional children and is an Educational counsellor associated with NGOs. She also writes articles for wellbeingfinance.com
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are his own and CitySpidey does not endorse them in anyway.