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Changes and Stress

Updated on October 24, 2012


Stress affects everyone
Stress affects everyone | Source

Stress is a Reaction to Things that are Changing

Stress will always exist. It results from things changing, and forces us to change. The causes of stress are many. How we react to stress and what we do with it can affect our mental and physical health in very powerful ways.

Stress is a reaction to things that are changing. Excess stress can be harmful, and often we may be dealing with more than one stressful situation at a time, or right after each other. Even positive and good events have stress associated with them. Change of any kind, whether is comes from positive things or negative things, is the biggest potential cause of stress. Trying to adapt to change affects our homeostasis, our balance.

As we try to regain our equilibrium, and gain familiarity and a sense of comfortableness from the newness of the situation, we are feeling stressed. While we often associate stress as being bad, some amount of stress is good for us.

Stress is something we have all dealt with. It comes from the hassles we endure from others, from work, from constant pressures, from lack of time, too much on our plate, financial burdens, moodiness, irritability, taking on too much, trying to balance all the things in our lives between work and home, relationship issues, social issues, emotional and health issues, too many changes, and many other stressors that occur in our fast paced world.

Constant changes make it necessary for us to adapt to the things that are happening so quickly. When we are dealing with too much change in a short period of time, stress ensues.

Stress Affects Us All

There are many reasons we feel stressed.
There are many reasons we feel stressed. | Source

Dealing With Stress

The effects of stress can cause many physical ailments including chest pain, allergies, asthma, rashes, difficulty with sleeping, and psychological aspects such as depression and anxiety. Some people try to self medicate with drugs, alcohol, overeating, smoking, over working, gambling and other destructive habits where we try to hide behind other things in order to not deal with stressful situations.

When we have too few resources to pull from, we can easily feel like things are out of control. Between uncertainties and too busy a pace, always being on the run, and too much responsibility, our thinking gets clouded and our worries multiply. Some of our worries are real, some are imagines, some are realistic, and some are exaggerated. Some are future oriented, and some are based in the past. We stretch ourselves to the limit, and we make it difficult for ourselves to resolve situations that will help alleviate the stress.

Stress is known to affect our health. It can affect the quality of our work, and cause us more stress. Stress perpetuates itself and causes more stress. How we think is a start to changing our stress levels, even when we can’t change our circumstances.

What we tell ourselves, the messages we play in our head can make us nervous or help us relax about what is going on around us. The issues may not go away, but changing our thoughts, even slightly, can possibly create a more positive outcome.

We all have to deal with stress, and it often comes upon us without notice. Sometimes we put the stress upon ourselves. Stress can affect our health. Relieving stress is one of the best things we can do for mental and physical health. We can also help others to relieve the stress we know they are dealing with by being supportive and a good listener.

The Various Types of Stress

Stress takes its toll on our energy levels too. Stress can burn us out and cause a mental breakdown.

Stress was probably designed as a survival mechanism. It served man well in the dawn of time, when running away from a predator was the prime stressor. But today, in our complicated world, stress comes from many causes that do not necessitate a danger to our survival. The demands, obligations, and committments we deal with can cause us to to suffer the same reactions that caused stress that our ancestors dealt with. Reactions that helped them survive and evolve, but today may overload us, and give us no healtlhy outlet to relieve the tension. The innate survival mechanism that served early man, and helps us avoid danger today, is actually contributing to our health downfall, especially f we deal with stress over a long period of time.

Excess stress is not good period. Stress overload can make it harder to focus on the job at hand. Prioritizing becomes more difficult when we are tense. People who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may need to seek treatment for the trauma they have been through. Often people with PTSD become dysfunctional in one or more areas of their life.

Stress and anxiety are connected. When we feel overwhelmed, we feel more tense, we worry more, we have greater levels of upsetness, and may over react to situations. Our stress levels go up and our anxiety increases. Therapy can be very helpful in relieving these feelings and dealing with anxiety. PTSD is a tougher aspect of stress to deal with, but there are promising results with EMDR. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a fairly new therapy that is showing great promise to help people with anxiety and PTSD. PTSD has been very resistant to traditional forms of therapy. EMDR has proven to work for stress and anxiety in many scientific studies. It is believed it works the physical aspect of moving your eyes while talking about the traumatic event at the same time, activates both hemispheres and unlocks the thoughts that may be stuck. EMDR with talk therapy can be extremely effective.

Everyone experiences stress a little differently. Some people become angry and act out their stress or take it out on others. Some people internalize it and develop eating disorders or substance abuse problems. And some people who have a chronic illness may find that the symptoms of their illness flare up under an overload of stress.

Although just enough stress can be a good thing, stress overload is a different story - too much stress isn't good for anyone. For example, feeling a little stress about a project or family event that's coming up can motivate you to focus or work hard. But stressing out too much over the project or event can make it hard to concentrate on the tasks and what to do first.

Pressures that are too intense or last too long, or troubles that are shouldered alone, can cause people to feel stress overload. Here are some of the things that can overwhelm the body's ability to cope if they continue for a long time:

  • being bullied or exposed to violence or injury
  • relationship stress, family conflicts, or the heavy emotions that can accompany a broken heart or the death of a loved one
  • ongoing problems with work related to a work overload, conflicts with colleagues or job dissatisfaction
  • crammed schedules, not having enough time to rest and relax, and always being on the go

Some stressful situations can be extreme and may require special attention and care. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a very strong stress reaction that can develop in people who have lived through an extremely traumatic event, such as a serious car accident, a natural disaster like an earthquake, or an assault like rape, or something that is traumatic and overwhelming to all our senses.

Some people have anxiety problems that can cause them to overreact to stress, making even small difficulties seem like crises. If a person frequently feels tense, upset, worried, or stressed, it may be a sign of anxiety. Anxiety problems usually need attention, and many people turn to professional counselors for help in overcoming them.

When Stress is Too Much

Signs of stress overload - people who are experiencing stress overload may notice some of the following signs:

  • anxiety or panic attacks
  • a feeling of being constantly pressured, hassled, and hurried
  • irritability and moodiness
  • physical symptoms, such as stomach problems, headaches, or even chest pain
  • allergic reactions, such as eczema or asthma
  • problems sleeping
  • drinking too much, smoking, overeating, or doing drugs
  • sadness or depression

Everyone experiences stress a little differently. Some people become angry and act out their stress or take it out on others. Some people internalize it and develop eating disorders or substance abuse problems. And some people who have a chronic illness may find that the symptoms of their illness flare up under an overload of stress.

There are many causes of stress. Stress over the long term can lead to a variety of illnesses and so it is very important to understand the many stressors that may be impacting your life and ways you can get learn to handle stress better. Stress can come from any major change, both good and bad. In addition, it is not just the event, but the person, and other circumstances past and present that affect how we deal with the stress . Our personalities and our perception are the main factors regarding how well we handle a stressor. Some of the stress we feel comes from our surroundings, and some come from withing ourselves.

How we respond to an event, and how we perceive the circumstances will directly affect how stressed we feel at any given moment, at any given time.

How we set ourselves up for stress. Many people who are perfectionist will have more stress. People who have too high expectations tend to have more stress. People who are insecure or are feeling uncertain will be more stressed. People who deny their feelings and do not easily express their emotions tend to react more easily to stressful situation. People who have negative thoughts and are pessimistic tend to take on more stress. The reason, is because cortisol, a chemical produced when stressed gets enhanced by these patterns of thinking.

External causes of stress, can be related to finances, work, relationships, are, and the things that are going on in the world, just to name a few. In surveys done, money worries seem to top the list for causes of stress, followed by social difficulties, especially related to family and relationship issues. When there are major changes in a person’s life, or health problems people naturally feel stressed. People also fee stress from overcrowding, pollution, crime and other socially environmental issues. When people are overburdened by responsibility, when too much is demanded of them, or unhappy at work, a person can feel stressed. People who suffer from discrimination are also stressed more.

Eustress is Good Stress

Whatever the cause of stress, it is important to understand how to effectively manage it. Stress is a powerful force. Whether it comes from external or internal pressures, how we interpret it and what we do with it determines how it impacts the very essence of ourselves.

Stress is designed to protect ourselves, but too much, like too much of anything is no good. Stress causes inflammation and chronic inflammation is not good for our bodies. Stress activates our adrenal glands and causes the neurotransmitters in our brain to get bigger and release cortisol. Cortisol causes our heart to beat faster, makes our muscles tense, and activates us to be on alert so that we can survive what we think is a challenging or dangerous situation.

Not all stressors are bad. Eustress is actually a positive form of stress and is actually good for you. When someone is confronted with stress, if the person responds with a more positive attitude, instead of a negative one, they will end up feeling more satisfied and gain a greater sense of well being. People who respond to a stressor with a perception of hope, meaning, or renewed strength are in eustress. The negative form of stress is distress. Eustress and distress cause different responses and chemical releases in the body. Through research, we know that eustress actually can boost our immune system. Eustress has to do with anticipation and excitement for good things. Playing sports, riding a roller coaster, and gambling are some examples of eustress. We get a sense of motivation and thrill and it helps us to maintain a purpose, and achieve more, be more competitive, and perform at a higher level.

Distress is dealing with stress negatively, which causes discomfort, anxiety, and an assortment of physical symptoms.

Coping With Stress

There are 3 general ways to cope with stress.

  • emotion based
  • problem solving
  • avoidance

People who try to cope with stress on an emotion based level try to lessen their negative emotions that come from stress.

People who try to cope with stress by problem solving look at ways to actively fix a situation.

People who try to ignore their emotions and not deal with the issues, are coping with stress through avoidance.

No matter which stress a person feels, stress at its basic level is a motivator for performing better and to make a change. There are many causes of stress, and many ways to react to stress.

Each of us deals with stress in our personal way. How we handle the challenges life poses, what we think, and what action we take, are all a part of the complicated beings we are.


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