Stress is a combination of a person's psychological, physiological, and behavioral response to his environment, which he/she perceives as threatening or challenging. Stress is measured in terms of arousal or stimulation. As such, stress must be present for any person to function. Stress can be either good or bad . What is Stress ?
Low: This is distress leading to boredom, fatigue, frustration, or dissatisfaction. Optimum: This is eustress . Stress sometimes provides people with the extra energy or alertness they need. For example, Stress could give a runner the edge he or she needs to persevere in a marathon. Eustress can also lead to creativity, problem solving, progress, change, learning, and energetic satisfaction. High: This bad kind of stress is called distress , the kind of stress that people usually are referring to when they use the word stress. High levels of stress can be harmful if not managed effectively. It can also increase the risk of developing health problems, such as cardiovascular disease and anxiety disorders . Three Degrees of Stress
General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS).
Generally, a person’s Physiological response follows what is called the GeneraL Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) which has three stages – alarm, resistance and exhaustion
The first stage, alarm , is basically the fight-or-flight response , the various physiological changes that prepare the body to attack or to flee a threatening situation. The sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system prompts release of epinephrine (also called adrenaline ) and norepinephrine (also called noradrenaline ), from the adrenal medulla (the inner part of the adrenal glands sitting atop the kidneys).
Additionally, g lucocorticoids (stress hormones) like cortisol are released from the adrenal cortex (the outer part of the adrenal glands) which result in the following physiological changes like increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, rapid or irregular breathing, muscle tension, dilated pupils, sweating, dry mouth, increased blood sugar levels, to take place:
In the second stage, resistance , the body tries to calm itself and restrain the fight-or-flight response from the alarm stage. These changes allow people to deal with stressors more effectively over a longer period of time.
When the body eventually runs out of energy from trying to resist stressors, the exhaustion stage takes over. In this stage, the body admits defeat and suffers the negative consequences of the stressors, such as a decreased capacity to function correctly, less sleep, or even death.
Sources of Stress
Change of any kind can induce stress because of:
fear of the new, the unknown
feelings of personal insecurity
feelings of vulnerability
fear of rejection
need for approval
lack of tolerance for ambiguity
fear of conflict
fear of taking a risk
fear of developing trust
fear of inability to cope with changed circumstances
Sources of stress, include three types of events, referred to as
major life events
Additionally, specific types of stressors occur within certain domains in life, such as family, work, etc.
Daily hassles are the little hassles or annoyances that occur practically everyday, such as having to make decisions, arguing with friends and family, trying to meet deadlines at school or work, and stepping on a piece of bubble gum that someone carelessly spitted out.
It is essentially a conflict between behaviors people may or may not want to do (Conflicts).
Daily hassles that involve interpersonal conflicts seem to have an impact that lasts longer than does that of most other daily hassles. The top ten daily hassles are,
Concerns about weight
Health of a family member
Rising prices of common goods
Too many things to do
Misplacing or losing things
Yard work or outside home maintenance
Property, investments, or taxes
Although the presence of stressors does not mean that stress responses will necessarily follow, when they do, stress responses are the way in which people react to stressors. They are the experience of being stressed. Stress responses can be divided into three categories:
behavioral responses .
Increased heart rate
Increased blood pressure
Rapid or irregular breathing
Increased blood sugar levels
When people react to stressors, a wide variety of cognitive and emotional responses can occur. Examples of cognitive responses are as follows:
Sensitivity to criticism
Examples of emotional responses are as follows:
People act differently when they are reacting to stressors. Sometimes, the behaviors are somewhat subtle, such as
Strained facial expressions, A shaky voice, Tremors or spasms, Jumpiness, Accident proneness, Difficulty sleeping and Overeating or loss of appetite
Behavioral responses are more obvious when people take advantage of the preparatory physiological responses of the fight-or-flight response. One side of the fight-or-flight response is that it prepares people to "fight", and people sometimes take advantage of that feature and behave aggressively toward other people. Unfortunately, this aggression is often direct toward family members (eg. Florida Hurricane) The other side of the fight-or-flight response is that it prepares people for "flight”
The following behavioral responses are examples of how people try to escape threatening situations:
Quiting jobs, Dropping out of school, Abusing alcohol or other drugs
Attempting suicide and Commiting crimes
STRESS RESPONSE DYSFUNCTION Burnout is an increasingly intense pattern of psychological, physiological, and behavioral dysfunction in response to a continuous flow of stressors or chronic stress. It is commonly found among employees and professionals who have a high degree of personal investment in work and high performance expectations. In the initial stages, people often have a variety of physiological and behavioral symptoms and lose interest and confidence in their work. The following physiological symptoms may occur: · Shortness of breath · Loss of appetite or weight · Headache · Fatigue and exhaustion The following behavioral symptoms may occur: · Lack of interest in fellow employees · Risky behavior · Mood swings In the later stages, people often do the following things: · Abuse alcohol and other drugs · Smoke excessively · Drink more caffeinated beverages · Become more rigid in their thinking · Lose faith in abilities of workers, the organization, and themselves · Become less productive
BURNOUT ? …….Solution is here
Start regaining control of your time and your life by reclaiming some of your old private times. Set aside at least 30 minutes per day to start with, just for you. Use time to sit quietly, breathe calmly and reflect on the wonders of the world around you. And, for just those few moments, enjoy the feeling of allowing it to pass you by. It will still be there when your 30 minutes are done.
Mood Disorders - disturbances in mood that range from depression to mania
Substance-Related Disorders - substance use disorders and substance-induced disorders
Increased blood pressure, Damaged muscle tissue, Infertility, Inhibitted growth, Immune system suppression, Brain damage, Accelerated aging, Cardiovascular Diseases and Cancer
Stress Management Techniques
Cognitive-Behavioural Approaches - attempt to change stress-related thoughts, feelings, and actions - cognitive restructuring, coping skills therapies, and problem-solving therapies
Cognitive Restructuring - The goal is to establish patterns of thinking that are more adaptive and less stress provoking - rational-emotive therapy, rational behavior therapy, cognitive therapy and self-instructional training .
Coping Skills Therapies - The goal is to develop a set of skills designed to help people cope with a variety of stressful situations – systematic rational restructuring, anxiety-management training, and stress inoculation training.
Exercise - uses the large muscle groups in continuous, repetitive motions and involves increased oxygen intake and increased breathing and heart rates - Aerobic exercise, weight lifting, yoga, and tai chi. Running, Swimming, Brisk walking and Bicycling are also good exercises
Diet and Nutrition
Want to Improve Your Diet?
* Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, enough so that fresh fruits and vegetables make up 50% to 75% of your diet.
* Avoid processed foods and all foods that are stressful for the body, such as artificial sweeteners, carbonated soft drinks, chocolate, eggs, fried foods, junk foods, pork, red meat, sugar, white flour products, foods containing preservatives or heavy spices, and chips and similar snack foods.
* Try getting rid of dairy products from your diet for 3 weeks. Then, slowly add them back into your diet and see if stress responses coincide with them.
* Avoid caffeine.
* Avoid alcohol, nicotine, and mood-altering drugs.
* Follow a monthly fasting program, but make sure you know what you are doing!
One of the best ways to help with stress is to change your physical state. Do the following in the morning :
Throw your shoulders back.
Hold your head up high and look up with your eyes.
Put a big smile on your face and breath deeply.
Think about something good in your life, if you can't think of something good than think about what could be good.
Change your Pattern! - If you notice that you have a pattern of certain things which put you in a depressed state than you can change
STRATEGIES FOR STRESS MANAGEMENT
Avoid the use of sleeping pills, tranquilizers, and other drugs to control stress.
Protect your personal freedoms and space. Do what you want and feel, but respect the rights of others. Don't tell others what to do, but if they intrude, let them know.
Find a time and place each day where you can have complete privacy. Take time off from others and pressures. Short time-outs during the day can help improve efficient functioning the rest of the day.
Don't drift along in troublesome and stressful situations or relationships. Take action to change rather than trying to avoid the problem. Taking chances is the key to emotional well-being.
Surround yourself with cues from positive thoughts and relaxation.
Review your obligations from time to time and make sure they are still good for you. If they're not, let them go.
Open yourself to new experiences. Try new things, new foods, new places.
When worries start to build up, talk to someone
STRATEGIES FOR STRESS MANAGEMENT
Associate with people whom you enjoy and who support you.
Learn and practice relaxation or meditation skills.
Engage in a vigorous physical exercise that is convenient and pleasurable. Sometimes it helps to get a friend to exercise with you.
Don't let one thing dominate you, such as school work, relationships, jobs, sports, etc.
View life as challenges to seek, not obstacles to avoid.
Take responsibility for your life and your feelings, but never blame yourself.
Maintain a reasonable diet and sane sleep habits.
Use alcohol and other drugs wisely, be in control of it, not vice verse.
There is no pre-packaged stress formula that works for everyone. However, ……. A FINAL WORD TO COPE WITH STRESS
Acknowledge there is no perfection.
Try not to control everything and everyone.
Focus on the positive and the good.
Hope for the best, yet prepare for the worst.
Adopt the belief that you are in control of your destiny.