What is stress?
Stress can be defined in two parts:
- “the psychological perception of pressure, and
- the body’s response to it, which involves multiple systems, from metabolism to muscles to memory.” (Psychology Today, 2018)
This is an evolutionary mechanism triggered by our “fight or flight” response as a way to deal with threats from our environment. Thus is meant to be a short term response. However, in modern days this response is triggered daily from various factors (home, work or health problems). Our bodies are in a constantly stressed state which leads to a number of health problems due to the damaging effect of the frequent release of the stress hormone, cortisol, in our bodies.
Signs and symptoms:
Stress can be displayed physically and / or emotionally:
- Frequent headaches
- Grinding teeth
- Neck and/or backache
- Dizziness and faintness
- Cold, sweaty hands and feet
- Insomnia, nightmares
- Difficulty concentrating
- Increased frustration and irritability
- Social withdrawal and isolation
The symptom can also be overt (easily recognizable):
- Substance abuse
Causes of Stress:
This can be classified into four types based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs:
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a “motivational theory that states that people are motivated to achieve certain needs and that some needs take precedence over others.” His theory follows a pyramid illustration where the important of the needs move from the lowest to highest point on the pyramid.
- Safety threats:
- Work- Is your job secure? Are you being undermined at work? Is your boss overworking you and unappreciative of you?
- Financial- Is your income stable? Does your expenses exceed your income?
- Health- Is someone or you sick? I s your health affecting your quality of life?
- Love and Belonging threats:
- Are you in a loving and satisfying relationship? Do you have friends who make you feel like you belong?
- Self esteem threats:
- Are you constantly searching for validation from others, seeking their praise to feel better?
- Self-actualisation threats:
- Do you feel like your not living up to your potential? Are holding back on your dreams?
Use this list to identify your main stressor so that you can learn to manage it.
Changing your mindset:
- Use the “thinking brain” not the “primitive brain”: Stress is a response from the primitive brain to deal with threats. This is an important response but being constantly stressed as stated above is unhealthy. To help mitigate the negative emotional and physical symptoms from stress, engage the thinking brain. This will allow you to “make reasonable and conscious choices in regulating our response to stress.” (Khanna, 2018)
- Use stress as an incentive to be better: Recognise that stress is a symptom not the cause. (Khanna, 2018) This will allow us to figure out what is wrong in our life and to change it.
- Accept it, don’t avoid it: By accepting stress, we bring it to light so we can effectively deal with it in a healthy manner.
- Be proactive in changing: This is where we do something about stress. After accepting stress and identifying your stressors you can now learn healthy ways to manage these, such as, listening and/or talking to others dealing with the same issues.
- Practice the ” Circle of Influence” mantra: Focus on the things we can change, not what you cannot. This way we stop worrying about other’s opinions and instead we focus on doing the best of what we can do.
- Develop grit: We need to be tenacious, determined and persistent, always as passionate, i.e., emotionally invested, about dealing with stress. This will ensure our continued success.
These various sources that I have gathered outline what is stress, how to identify the symptoms and what are the stressors before documenting how to manage stress in a healthy manner.
I hope this summary will help you better identify and manager stress in your life. I know I will be following along as well.
Learn and Enjoy!
Khanna, S. (2018). How to Manage Stress (A Step-by-Step Guide to Turn Stress Into Success). [online] Lifehack. Available at: https://www.lifehack.org/713209/how-to-manage-stress-a-step-by-step-guide-to-turn-stress-into-success [Accessed 21 May 2018].
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. [online] Simply Psychology. Available at: https://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html [Accessed 21 May 2018].
Marksberry, K. (2018). Stress Effects. [online] The American Institute of Stress. Available at: https://www.stress.org/stress-effects/ [Accessed 21 May 2018].
Psychology Today. (2018). Stress | Psychology Today. [online] Available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/stress [Accessed 21 May 2018].