A certain amount of stress is part of our normal daily lives and we face many stressors each day due to concerns, circumstances, people, and events. Usually we accept stress as a part of everyday life and in certain instances it motivates us, helps us perform under pressure and works to our advantage. While some of us thrive in these situations, others experience a combination of negative physical and psychological effects.
Mindset, assumptions, convictions, and emotional states can trigger chain reactions that alter heart rate, biochemistry, and cellular and organ activity. It affects one’s health, mood, productivity, relationships, and quality of life. Lifestyle is a major contributing factor to a person’s stress levels.
Acute or short-term stress is intense and usually disappears quickly, resulting from specific events or situations such as uncertainty, unpredictability, or threats. It creates anxiety or a sense of no control. This type of stress can be good for you because the stress hormones released help your mind and body deal with the situation. However, when stress is prolonged, unusual, or extreme, the results can be quite harmful.
Chronic or long-term stress occurs over a longer period of time, often leading to the development of chronic disease. The immune system becomes suppressed and increases susceptibility to illness, blood pressure and cholesterol levels rise, and metabolism becomes disrupted. Chronic pain, headaches, fatigue, sleep disorders, irregular bowels, irritability, depression, restlessness, and lack of concentration are common symptoms of chronic stress.
In addition to these symptoms, stress can cause physiological effects like nausea, increase or loss of appetite, reduced sex drive, amenorrhea, and teeth grinding. Emotionally, it may cause irritability, anger, withdrawal from activities, anxiety, and drug or alcohol abuse. Intellectually, individuals can be forgetful and preoccupied. Reduced productivity and creativity, social withdrawal, worrying, and changes in the quality of relationships can also occur. It is very important to recognize that one is dealing with stress and properly address the root causes and negative coping patterns.
Stress factors broadly fall into four types or categories: physical stress, psychological stress, psycho-social stress, and psycho-spiritual stress.
Physical stress includes trauma, illness, intense labor, pollution and toxicity, inadequate light exposure, insufficient oxygen supply, hormonal or metabolic imbalances, malnutrition, substance abuse, and musculoskeletal conditions/misalignments.
Psychological stress includes anxiety, depression, fear, frustration, sadness, anger, self-criticism, and excessive worrying. It also includes perceptual stress, information overload, attitudes, beliefs, world view, and the loss of sense of control.
Psycho-social stress includes isolation, lack of personal and social support, lack of resources for adequate survival, loss of loved ones, and relationship difficulties.
Psycho-spiritual stress includes a crisis of values, meaning, and purpose. Joyless living and/or striving, instead of productive, satisfying, meaningful and fulfilling life and work, and a misalignment within one’s core spiritual beliefs.
Commonly treated stress related conditions :
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Worry and overthinking