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STRESS

Thursday, 05 January 2023



Stress is a normal physiological response to currently perceived threats or environmental challenges. It can have positive and negative effects on our physical and mental health, depending on the severity and duration of the stressor and the individual's coping mechanisms. Unlike short-term stress, chronic stress can cause many negative health consequences, such as cardiovascular disease, depression, and anxiety.

 

STRESS: What is stress? | Causes of stress | Symptoms of stress | Types of stress | When to see a doctor? | Stress and Burnout | Diagnosis | HEALING | Conventional treatment | Alternative | Home Remedies | Prevention | Questions and Answers | Sources/references



Stress is a normal human reaction that can and does happen to anyone. The human body is designed to experience and respond to stress. Therefore, when you experience changes or challenges (stressors) in your life, your body reacts in the form of physical and mental responses. This is what we call stress.

Stress responses help the body adapt to new situations. Stress can be positive as it keeps us alert, motivated, and ready to avoid danger. For example, the stress response can help your body work harder and stay awake longer if a vital school test is coming up. But stress becomes a problem when stressors persist without relief or periods of relaxation.

Image: is stress restricting you, and you cannot cope with daily tasks?

stress-in-life

Stress means different things to different people. What causes stress in one person may not be in another. Some people deal with stress better than others. Our bodies are designed to withstand small doses of stress. However, we cannot handle long-term, chronic stress without dire consequences.



Causes of stress

Stress occurs when life's demands are out of balance with our ability to handle them. For example, specific jobs are very stressful, especially assembly line jobs requiring repetitive tasks with dangerous machinery.

Typical stressors are events and circumstances that are difficult to control: "burnout" from work, money problems, loss of security or threat thereof, grief, or divorce.

Video content: many different causes of stress

Positive events can be just as stressful, e.g., marriage or job promotion.

Other causes are internal: illness, loneliness, pain, or emotional conflicts. The impacts of such changes, large and small, add up. During a certain period, a person can only withstand a certain amount of stress.



Symptoms of stress can be numerous.

  • Physical symptoms include headache, fatigue, insomnia, digestive changes, neck or back pain, loss of running, or excessive eating.
  • Mental symptoms may include tension or anxiety, anger, withdrawal from society, pessimism, weakness, increased irritability, negative feeling, and deterioration of concentration and performance.
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The body's autonomic nervous system controls your heart rate, breathing, vision changes, and more. Its built-in stress response, the "fight or flight response," helps the body cope with stressful situations. When a person has long-term (chronic) stress, continued activation of the stress response causes wear and tear on the body. Physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms develop.

Video content: unpleasant symptoms that stress has on your body.

Stress can affect all parts of your life, including your emotions, behavior, thinking ability, and physical health. No part of the body is immune to stress. But because people handle stress differently, the symptoms of stress can vary. Symptoms can be vague and similar to those caused by medical problems. That's why it's essential to discuss them with your doctor.

Physical symptoms of stress may include:

  • pains in the body,
  • chest pain or fast heartbeat,
  • exhaustion or trouble sleeping,
  • headaches, dizziness or shaking,
  • high blood pressure,
  • muscle tension or jaw clenching,
  • stomach or digestive problems,
  • sexual problems,
  • weak immune system.

Stress can also cause emotional and mental symptoms such as:

  • anxiety or irritability,
  • depression,
  • panic attacks.



When to see a doctor?

Seek medical help if you feel overwhelmed if you even use drugs or alcohol to cope, or if you think about harming yourself. Your doctor of choice can help you by giving you advice, prescribing medication, or refer you to a therapist.

See a doctor if:

  • You have long-term or acute symptoms. Excessive stress increases the risk of other serious illnesses, including immune disorders, digestive problems, diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure, migraine headaches, and possibly even cancer.
  • You have symptoms of stress along with unusual changes in sleep, running, mood, or unusually agitated or slowed body movements. It could be clinical depression.



We know several types of stress.

Sometimes a small amount of stress can help us to complete tasks constructively - focus tends to make us feel more energized. But stress can become a problem if it lasts for a long time or is very intense for a long time. In some cases, stress can affect our physical and mental health. As a result, you may hear health professionals refer to certain types of stress as "acute" or "chronic":

Acute stress occurs within minutes to hours after the event. It lasts a short time, usually less than a few weeks, and is very intense. It can happen after an exciting or unexpected event, such as a sudden bereavement, an attack, or a natural disaster.

Video content: learn about different types of stress.

Chronic stress lasts for a long time or is repeated. For example, you can experience this if you are under a lot of pressure for a long time. You can also experience chronic stress if your daily life is difficult, for example, if you have a stressful job or live in poverty.

Prolonged stress can eventually exhaust the body's capabilities and cause chronic fatigue, loss of running or overeating, and other reactions. The ability to cope can be reduced, causing feelings of insecurity and inadequacy, and even leading to depression. At the same time, the functioning of the immune system is also affected, which increases the susceptibility to diseases. Unresolved stress - whether from real or imagined causes - can lead to high blood pressure, a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Post-traumatic stress disorder, which symptoms appear immediately or months after a stressful event, can be a long-term and challenging problem.



Diagnosis

Stress is a subjective experience - tests cannot measure it. Only the person experiencing it can determine if it is present and how intense it is. Your doctor may use particular questionnaires to understand your stress and how it affects your life and health. If you suffer from chronic stress, your doctor can evaluate the symptoms that are caused by the stress. For example, high blood pressure can be diagnosed and treated.



Stress and burnout - what's the difference?

The line between stress and burnout is blurred and often difficult to discern. Burnout is the accumulation of uncontrolled and accumulated stress over some time. Stress and fatigue are daily experiences for most. Stress usually ends, but this level of relaxation is sometimes challenging to reach.

Image: stress or burnout?

burnout-and-stress

Experiencing increased stress is often reason enough for people to seek help from a psychologist. However, seeking professional help for burnout is imperative, as its primary symptoms encourage isolation and withdrawal, potentially to the point of depression. Whether you are stressed, tired, or burnt out, a psychologist can help you overcome your challenges.



HEALING

You don't have to overcome stress alone. A counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist, priest, or friend will often help you define or resolve a problem that you may find intractable. In addition, behaviors that reduce stress can help you prepare for an event that you know will be stressful.



CONVENTIONAL MEDICINE

If you have symptoms of stress due to a particular event, e.g., a death in the family, your doctor may prescribe anxiolytics, e.g., diazepam. Such drugs are very effective if used for a short time; however, if taken for more than a few weeks, they can become addictive.

Video content: the only natural way to deal with stress

Your doctor may recommend psychotherapy to identify stressful events or circumstances and ways to reduce the stress they cause.

Group therapy is often valuable for individuals in a similar stressful life situation. Treatment for PTSD usually involves professional counseling, but anxiolytics or antidepressants may also be needed.



ALTERNATIVE MODES

Some methods considered alternative in the past are now widely used in medical practice - especially those aimed at physical and mental relaxation.



AROMATHERAPY

The essential oil of lavender (Lavandula officinalis) can help reduce stress. Try 5 or 6 drops in the bath or put 2 to 3 drops on a tissue and inhale from time to time.



WORK WITH THE BODY

Massage relaxes tense muscles and improves circulation, thus contributing to mental relaxation.

Image: a pleasant massage and the thought of daily obligations floats away

massage-and-stress

Try a self-massage of the shoulders, neck, shoulders, and face between individual massages with a masseur.



HERBAL TREATMENT

A traditional stress reliever is a cup of hot tea. Some herbalists suggest chamomile tea (Matricaria recutita), passion flower (Passiflora incarnata), valerian (Valeriana officinalis), or ginseng. > (Panax quinquefolius).



WAY OF LIFE

Brisk aerobic exercise can reduce the hormones released during stress and increase the heart rate while promoting well-being. Even walking around the block can reduce anxiety and relieve tension. Try to do the physical activity of your choice - running, swimming, walking - at least three times a week for 30 minutes.



PERSONALITY TYPE A

Some researchers classify people into two groups: those with the competitive, high-strung personality type A, who are stimulated by challenges, and those with the less competitive, calmer type B. Type A people appear to be at greater risk of heart attacks. In addition, some research shows that hostility - not just a fast pace of life - is the trait most strongly associated with coronary heart disease.

Some experts think people with personality type A should try changing their behavior. In contrast, others believe this may cause additional stress or change an underlying personality trait. Most, if not all, Type A people enjoy a fast-paced lifestyle. If you feel you are a Type A personality, try to control hostility and other negative traits by taking the following measures:

  • Whenever possible, avoid situations that make you uncomfortable.
  • Take a real break from work.
  • Allocate your time better.
  • "Punish" Type A behavior and reward calm and controlled behavior.

Stretching exercises can release muscle tension in the upper body that accompanies stress and affects breathing. For example, roll your shoulders up, back, and then down. Inhale as the shoulders rise and exhale as they descend. Repeat the exercise four or five times, then take a deep breath and exhale. Repeat the cycle.



MEDICINE OF SPIRIT AND BODY

The

Relaxation Response has long been the goal of many Eastern modalities, such as Yoga and Zen Buddhism. Try this simple process: choose a keyword or phrase, e.g., "peace," "I'm calm," or "I'm relaxed." Then, sit still, relax, and breathe slowly and deeply. Say the focus word or phrase each time you exhale. If something disturbs your concentration, wait for the thoughts to pass through your head and return to the central word. Continue for 5 minutes at a time and gradually increase to 20 minutes. Make this a habit that you do at least once a day. Such regular relaxation exercises can slow the rate of breathing, reduce oxygen consumption, calm the rhythm of brain waves, and lower blood pressure.

Video Content: Yoga for Stress Relief

You can also reduce stress with biofeedback, identify the causes, and control your physical and mental reactions. First, a professional must teach you the right way; then, you can do it at home. Proponents of this method believe that it can relax specific muscles, change the brain's electrical activity, slow the heart rate, lower blood pressure, increase body heat and improve the functioning of the gastrointestinal tract.



NUTRITION

Nutrition can also affect how well you handle stress. Since under the influence of stress, something can be neglected to take care of her, make a special effort to have a balanced menu with plenty of fruits and vegetables, as well as foods that contain a lot of complex carbohydrates, a moderate amount of protein, and little fat. Also, avoid or at least limit caffeine: Too much caffeine has been found to increase anxiety.



HOME REMEDIES

There are many simple, inexpensive ways to manage stress yourself. For many, an excellent initial measure is to limit artificial stress relievers, e.g., alcohol, which mask the symptoms and can be addictive. Try exercising instead. Go for a walk. Breathe deeply.

In periods of stress, the support of the environment is critical. After severe illnesses and injuries, people with close personal relationships are more likely to recover; pressure is no different. The ability to build relationships with people - as well as with domestic animals - can be the key to good health.

Take a yoga class and do it yourself at home. Yoga can relax tense muscles, teach you to breathe more correctly, lower blood pressure, slow heart rate, and distract your mind from stress.

Video Content: Drink one cup of this tea!

Meditation brings relaxation and increases self-confidence. When you feel stressed, think of affirmations such as: "I can deal with this calmly. I feel sure and confident. I am in control of my life."

Try imagining (visualization) exercises or guided performances and presenting pleasant scenes and circumstances benefits physically and emotionally, combining visualization exercises with soothing music. You can learn the way with the help of the many excellent teachers, books, and tapes available.

Hydrotherapy can quickly be done at home. It is very effective for relieving stress. Lie in a tub of hot water with half a cup of sea salt and your favorite bath oil for 10 to 20 minutes.



How else can we help each other?

You can't avoid stress, but you can prevent it from becoming overwhelming by implementing a few daily strategies:

  • Exercise when you feel stress symptoms coming on. Even a short walk can improve your mood.
  • At the end of each day, take a moment to reflect on what you have accomplished - not what you haven't done.
  • Set goals for the day, week, and month. An overview of the tasks will help you to have more control.
  • Consider talking to a therapist or your doctor about your concerns.
  • Try relaxation tactics such as meditation, yoga, tai chi, breathing exercises, and muscle relaxation.
  • Take good care of your body every day. Proper nutrition, exercise, and enough sleep help the body tolerate stress much better.
  • Stay positive and practice gratitude and acknowledge your achievements of the day or life.
  • Accept that you cannot control everything. Find ways to get rid of worrying about situations you can't change.
  • Learn to say "no" to extra responsibilities when you're too busy or stressed.
  • Stay connected with people who calm you down, make you happy, provide emotional support and help you with everyday things. For example, a friend, family member, or neighbor can be a good listener - they can even help you divide responsibilities so that the stress doesn't become too much.



PREVENTION

While we cannot - and perhaps should not - try to change our personalities or avoid stressful situations simply because they are stressful, there are some measures we can take.

Try the following:

  • Use the previously described ways to relax and reduce stress.
  • Cultivate other interests and schedule occasional entertainment to break old habits.
  • Ensure regular sleep and enough rest - no sleeping pills.
  • Exercise regularly and vigorously, appropriate for your age.

Picture: reduce stress, take time for yourself, and learn to say no

brez-stresa

  • Avoid habitual rushing and worrying, disrupting sleep, feeding, and more. Take time to relax and enjoy life.
  • Make a list of things that excite you. Then, for each, ask yourself, "What is the worst and the best that could happen? Have I done everything possible to be prepared? Is it worth worrying about this problem?"
  • Laugh more; avoid self-pity; learn to regain balance after a stressful event; strive to be in touch with people.
  • When faced with a stressful situation, remember the folk wisdom: count to 10 and take a deep breath before you say or do anything. A deliberate pause can be a good sedative.



Questions and Answers




What are the common causes that lead to stress?

Common causes of stress include work-related pressures, financial problems, relationship problems, and significant life changes such as the death of a loved one or moving to a new location.



What are the common symptoms of stress?

Symptoms of stress can vary widely and include physical symptoms such as headaches, muscle tension, and fatigue, as well as emotional symptoms such as anxiety, irritability, and depression.



How can I manage stress?

Many ways to manage stress include exercise, meditation, deep breathing, and talking to a therapist or counselor. In addition, lifestyle changes such as getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and managing time effectively can help reduce stress levels[1].



How long does stress last?

The duration of stress depends on the cause and how well we manage it. Acute anxiety, short-term stress caused by a specific event, usually lasts from a few minutes to a few hours. Long-term chronic stress causes ongoing problems and can last for months or even years.



Can stress cause long-term health problems?

Yes, chronic stress can cause various adverse health consequences, such as cardiovascular disease, depression, and anxiety. Therefore, it is essential to manage stress to prevent these long-term health problems.



Why does stress affect me so quickly?

Mental health conditions such as depression or a growing sense of frustration, injustice, and anxiety can make some people more easily stressed than others. How an individual reacts to a stress factor also depends on his life experiences and the way he responds to different stress factors. Common and significant life events often trigger stress are problems at work or retirement[2].



Which food reduces stress?

Nine foods that help reduce anxiety:
Oily fish. Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout, and herring are high in omega-3. ...
Eggs. Egg yolks, especially from pasture-raised hens, are another excellent source of vitamin D. ...
Pumpkin seeds...
Dark chocolate. ...

Video content: nutrition that reduces stress naturally.


Turmeric. ...
chamomile. ...
Yogurt. ...
Green tea[3].



Sources and references

Source: Family Health Guide. Conventional and alternative treatment, Dr. Jajo Lajovic, Publishing House Mladinska knjiga

1. 10 stress busters - https://www.nhs.uk

2. Why stress happens and how to manage it - https://www.medicalnewstoday.com

3. What are some foods that ease anxiety? - https://www.medicalnewstoday.com



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