Common causes of stress. Why it happens and how to manage it?
Stress: common causes. Why did it happen and how to manage it?
Various emotions overcrowd the human mind every day, every minute, and even every second. Ecstasy, depression, stress, sadness, anxiety, etc. are among the many emotions that we go through in our daily lives. Imagine someone got a bonus salary, he is most likely to feel rapturous, elated, or extremely happy. On the other hand, a lady just lost her diamond ring. How must she be feeling? -Anxious? Scared? Stressed? She might as well be feeling all of these emotions at once. Stress is a common emotion for people. However, there are various stages of stress. Overwhelming or chronic stress can be a threat to a person’s mental health. For a healthy lifestyle, one needs to know the causes of stress and should try to lead a stress-free life.
Let’s dive into the matter and try to get a clearer picture of the causes of stress and ways of redemption.
What is stress?
Stress is a result of physical or emotional tension. It is a biological reaction to taxing circumstances. A person is under stress when he is annoyed, frustrated, or apprehensive. You feel stressed whenever you are set to face a challenge. For example, almost all students are stressed on their first day of school or college. A person may be stressed on his first day at work. A to-be-mother might be stressed about the upcoming changes in her life. A person dealing with the death of a dear one can be under severe stress.
In today’s challenging world, stress is a natural feeling. In fact, stress can also act as a motivator in demanding situations. For instance, stress is what encourages people to perform better in exacting situations. A stressed employee is supposed to be more concerned about his work performance and as a result, is likely to generate higher output. A stressed examinee is most probably more determined to get a higher grade. Stress represents a person’s desire to achieve a goal and work hard to earn higher rewards. When facing an accident, stress helps the nerves to act in a preventive way. Therefore, stress might not always be the destructive emotion that it is assumed to be. Sometimes, stress can help us grow and strive to achieve life goals. It only gets worse when stress sustains and persists when you cannot seem to get rid of it. When every single thing starts to bother you or in extreme cases starts to haunt you. It starts to disrupt your sleep, peace, appetite, and every important aspect of your life.
What triggers stress?
Many circumstances can trigger stress among people. While everybody is likely to feel stressed under certain conditions, the levels of stress in definite situations differ among people according to their mental capacities and temperaments. In particular, suppose two people are supposed to deliver speeches at an event. One of them has five years of experience and has given multiple speeches in multiple events. On the other hand, the second person is a beginner speaker. This is his first speech deliverance. What do you think, who is likely to be under more stress? -The second speaker, right? Quite predictable. Consider another condition: one of the speakers is extrovert and the other is an introvert. Introverts normally do not excel in public engagements. Predictably, the introvert is supposed to be more stressed. Stress tolerance varies among people.
The level of stress among people may differ according to the following conditions:
- How different people perceive different situations
- Experience in handling difficult situations
- Havoc in personal life can make professional life stressful
- Havoc in professional life can make personal life stressful
- Availability or lack of emotional support
- Availability or lack of financial support
- Control on one’s emotion
Major life events like getting married or expecting a baby can also cause stress; losing a lot of money or bearing enormous responsibilities also stimulate stress.
Some common causes of stress are listed below-
- Being under immense pressure
- Dealing with major life changes
- Dealing with the death of someone close
- Facing uncertain situations where you have no control over the circumstances occurring
- Being suddenly burdened with huge responsibilities
- Feeling abandoned by someone close
- Sudden financial crisis
- Enormous debts
These situations impose an uncertain challenge in people’s lives. These can be overwhelming and a lot to handle for certain people. Given that people react differently to stressful situations, it is unpredictable how much a stressful event will affect a particular person.
How does stress affect the human body?
The human body has its own way of functioning. To tackle things when we feel overwhelmed or threatened, the nervous systems releases stress hormones, which prepare our body for emergency measures. It stimulates the following effects in our body:
- Fast pounding heart
- Tightened muscles
- The rise in blood pressure
- Quickened breath
- Sharper senses
Our nervous system is not an expert in differentiating between emotional and physical menaces. Getting stressed over trivial issues can set our stress bar high, making it easier to trigger stress and harder to block emotions. Staying stressed up frequently leads to chronic stress which hampers almost every system in the human body. These physical symptoms help us prepare to fight or abscond the threat of stress overload.
Not only physical, but stress also messes up our mental state and disrupts our daily life. It hampers our daily activities and affects our perception of the world. Distress affects our discretion and judgment. It causes disruptions in our personal and professional lives. Failing in emotional relationships as a result of stress only triggers further stress and depression. Unable to concentrate on work due to tension and distractions can affect professional relationships and as a result, lead to poor work satisfaction. This too contributes to further distress and tension.
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To summarize, stress really has an adverse effect on our health both physical and mental. While it can be a totally normal feeling, its emergence from normal to alarming level is not apparent. It stealthily climbs the ladder of anxiety. We need to make sure that this distress is under control and does not get the chance to rise up to an alarming level.
How do we distinguish between normal stress and chronic or alarming stress?
As mentioned earlier, stress is a go-to-go feeling that every person goes through at some point in life. But how do we differentiate between this normal feeling and anxiety? How do we prevent day-to-day stress from becoming a chronic and threatening condition?
Happy incidents can prompt stress too. Starting a new job; getting promoted; getting engaged or married, and expecting a baby- are usually happy episodes of people’s lives. However, these events also impose stress because people still go through major changes under these affairs. A marriage is a life-long commitment and a baby is a life-long responsibility. These occurrences influence a person’s life substantially. The uncertainty associated with these events and the unpredictable challenges fixated on them causes stress and anxiety.
It is, nonetheless, extremely important to understand how much stress is extreme for you because too much stress can cause widespread damage to both mental and physical conditions. If you feel overwhelmed over every small instance, or feel anxious all the time, it is time to seek help. Underestimating stress can cause dire situations in near future.
Chronic stress has the following symptoms:
- Digestive imbalance
- Weight imbalance
- Heart conditions
- Skin diseases
- Reproductive problems
It is common for people to fail to realize when stress starts to build up. People become accustomed to stress and at a point, it starts to feel normal. You don’t realize when stress starts to creep up.
you should be aware of the following symptoms to identify when stress is taking a toll on you.
- Memory issues
- Unable to concentrate
- Constant anxiety
- Chronic depression
- Anger issues
- Constant irritability
- Body aches
- Chest pain
- Eating disorder
- Turning to addiction
Stress is an integral part of life. From losing a job to losing a family member, everything can trigger stress. It’s normal to feel anxious for a short period of time but, if you feel distressed for more than several days or weeks, it should be taken seriously in order to prevent disturbance in the future. Constant anxiety can hamper your daily life and prevent you from leading a healthy and normal life. Measures to keep stress under control should be adopted as early as possible before stress takes a toll on you.
Therapy and medication are the most substantial step towards stress relief. People are increasingly focusing importance on mental health these days. It is recognized as a significant threat to human health. Stress, anxiety, and depression have also caused a lot of people to lose their lives to suicide. To deal with depression and or stress world-class therapists have taken several steps and suggested various natural and psychical techniques. Taking professional help should preferably be the primary step towards stress control.
Various techniques of therapy have proven to be effective in dealing with stress. Laugh therapy, music therapy, and talk therapy are three effective measures of stress management. Laughing allows more oxygen intake which boosts the muscles, heart, and lungs and releases good hormones. It also improves the immune system, alleviates pain, and ameliorates your mood. Talk therapy is indeed helpful. Talking and expressing emotions has always been an effective way to let out tension. Guidance from a therapist can be substantial support for people dealing with anxiety. Music therapy helps soothe your nerves with peaceful and soulful music. There are numerous people who find solace in music and this technique is gradually becoming more and more popular in the field of mental treatments.
Besides medical help, you can also adopt activities that will help you keep your stress levels under control. These are just steps towards grooming yourself to be more accepting and flexible to life and its events. The first step is to recognize that not everything is under your control and to accept those uncertain things will happen in life and there is nothing you can do about it. You need to be able to express yourself precisely. Bottling up emotions will only suffocate you. Start asserting your feelings and opinions out loud instead of holding grudges and acting aggressively.
Save some time for yourself. Carry out activities that please you. Allocate time to your hobbies. Spend time with your loved ones who make you feel contented. Learn when to say ‘no’. Deny unjustifiable requests. You do not need to be a people-pleaser all the time. Give importance to your discretion and interests.
Avoid bending towards addiction. Trust me, it only makes things worse. Try cutting down on your caffeine intake. Get enough sleep. Sleeping will soothe your emotions. Physical activities can help you sleep better. Exercise releases hormones (endorphins and endocannabinoids) that obstruct pain and calm your emotions. Exercising can also help improve your mood, relieve anxiety, and make you feel more optimistic. The physical exercises you can try out include cycling, dancing, swimming, running, etc. Even household chores can help stimulate relief- cleaning, doing dishes, etc. You can try taking up yoga which is a kind of exercise but is also counted as a medication. Yoga techniques such as stretching and deep breathing help lower your stress levels
Another way is to adopt a healthy diet. It strengthens your immune system, lowers your blood pressure, and uplifts your mood. An unhealthy diet can have the opposite effect and prove to be even dire. A healthy diet comprises a blend of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, found in meat, fish, and eggs. Antioxidants found in various vegetables and fruits are also beneficial to combat chronic stress.
To sum up the entire build-up, the main idea is that stress is a normal feeling to experience until it becomes rooted in our minds. Too much of anything is harmful; like too much caffeine or alcohol can be detrimental to health, similarly, overload of stress is also harmful to us. Being aware of the consequences and being alert as to when to take action is important. Life is short and beautiful. It is too precious to be stressed and depressed. Know how to cure yourself and enjoy life to the fullest.
Writer: Nabiha Tahseen
•Bangladesh University of Professionals (BUP)
•Faculty of Business Studies
•Department of Business Administration in Finance and banking
Edited By: Al-Resalat
BA, MA in English Language and Literature