Dissecting Stress

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What it is, basically

Stress is basically defined as a response to a certain stimulus that severs one’s physical and mental balance. If you look around you, you can see that stress is everywhere. Even the tiniest things that require decisions cause stress. Lack of choices causes stress, yet ironically, the abundance of options also causes stress. Surprisingly, stress has both the good and the bad side; though people fail to notice the former because we’re only familiar with the latter.

There are two sides of stress

The fact that there’s a good stress may come as a surprise to many. Good stress, also called eurostress, typically has an essential role to portray in adaptation, motivation, and response to that the environment calls for. When an athlete perseveres to achieve his goal he’s not only inspired, he’s pushed to win by positive stress. But it’s a different story when the stress that’s afflicting an individual becomes too much to handle. When it becomes severe, there could be medical repercussions. The bad stress, being nothing but negativity and hopelessness, is capable of heightening the risk of strokes, heart attacks, ulcers, dwarfism, and mental problems, such as depression.

What about depression?

1 in 10 individual in the United States suffer from depression at one point of their lifetime. The bad news is that the number of people suffering from it continues to increase each year, roughly by 20%. Thinking global, there is an estimated 121 million people in the world that struggles with some type of depression.

The number is gargantuan, but hardly surprising. As previously stated, there’s stimulus for stress everywhere you go. Even that idyllic island life with that crystal clear blue seas and mighty palm trees that you’ve been imagining every time your boss slams pile of papers on your desk can be stressful primarily because you have to pay for it. People in this time and age have standards and requirements in life, pushing them to work harder. And while chasing success is not a bad thing, the stress that comes with it can harm our health.

Stressors – getting to know the culprit

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Stressor constitutes to any life event, experience, or even an agent in the environment that can trigger stress in an individual. More often than not, these experiences are seen as threats or difficulties – this can be either physical or psychological. Researchers have identified multiple types of stressors, which are:

Crises and catastrophes – tragedies occur unexpectedly, which makes the damage even more significantly devastating. During these times, one feels powerless and helpless, causing stress and grief beyond description. Some of these catastrophes are floods, earthquakes, and even wars.

Major life event – studies have shown that the human brain cannot handle major and abrupt changes in life with ease. For instance, marriage and going to college may be exciting, new chapters in life, but these can also bring stress due to the drastic changes in one’s routine or overall lifestyle. The birth of a child can also cause stress due to the reasons mentioned above. Then there’s the death of a loved one, which causes grief and the challenge in adjusting to a new life without that particular person who passed. On the other hand, you can also change the way you think in order to turn stress into the positive kind. For instance, instead of getting worried about going to college, think of it as an opportunity to meet new people, experience new things, and improve your life.

Microstressors – these stressors come from the daily tasks that we’re not particularly very fond of. There are so many things that annoy us every day, and although they’ve become a part of our lives, they’re still irritating nonetheless. This includes traffic, work or school deadlines, and interaction with people we don’t like. These things come our way more often than not and one of the things we can do to prevent feeling horrible about these things is to modify the way we think.

Ambient stressors – these are portrayed as low-grade stressors and are part of the background environment. Often, these are pollution, noise, and crowd. Ambient stressors triggers stress;  but frequently without one particularly noticing.

Physical manifestations to the tribulations of the mind

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When the mind suffers, the body suffers. There have been theories on the connection between the sufferings of the mind due to stress, and how this affects the physical being. More recently, this connection has been proven to be real.

Multiple studies determine that acute and chronic stress can lead to modifications in one’s behavior and even in one’s physiology. These behavior changes can be in the form of smoking, eating habits, and the desire to take on particular activities.

Physiological changes, meanwhile, constitute to modifications in sympathetic activation, hypothalamic pituitary adrenocorticoid activation, and immunological capacities. There’s no definite conclusion as to the relation between stress and illness yet, but it has already been recognized that there’s a connection. This revelation alone should not be ignored.

Moreover, it has also been found that stress can make us more likely to catch cold. Other stressors like career failures, unwarranted changes in one’s job, and financial shortage lead to sleeping problems and other health issues. Of course, sleeping problems can lead to other health concerns.

Stress in the modern times

We’re stressed by anything these days. We’re even stressed by pretenses and things that don’t exist, thanks to social media. Studies, work, whatever we’re pre-occupied at the moment, gives us stress. We’re stressed of failures, we’re stressed of missed opportunities, and we’re stressed of failed relationships. We’re even stressed about eating cupcakes, because we’re so worried about gaining weight. Every little thing we chose that ended up being bad choices are stressors that haunt us every single time.

Hence, people in the modern times have become these creatures that get anxious about the littlest of things. The sad news is that this vicious cycle doesn’t stop. We go strive for something in order to avoid feeling left out and be labeled unaccomplished, forgetting that our overall happiness depends on our sense of contentment, and this feeling of gratification is not provided by material things but simply of how we view life as  a whole. Regardless of what you own, you won’t be happy if you reject to be appreciative of the people and the things you have in your life.

Moreover, chronic stress and the incapability to adjust or the lack of coping resources accessible can lead to psychological issues ranging from depression to anxiety.

Some ways to beat it

Affiliation – through this, you can manage stress with the help of a social network. Asking for support doesn’t mean that you’re weak and you fail to face the responsibility head-on. This only means that you acknowledge the necessity for social support in order to help you lift your spirits. Words can be powerful and can guide people in making important decisions in life.

Humor – though humor, you realize that there’s nothing you can really do with the situation that stresses you, so you go around it and laugh it off. Instead of concentrating on the negative side of your present circumstance, using humor enables you to underscore a situation’s comical side.

Sure, laughing doesn’t change the situation or reduce the problem itself, but it can change how you look at it. With a different way of seeing things you have a greater chance of arriving at a solution. Even internationally-renowned neurologist Sigmund Freud believed humor to be an excellent defense against emotional burdens and personal predicaments. It wouldn’t be called the best medicine if it weren’t true.