Advice from a psychologist. Stress: causes and ways to combat stress
The concept of stress has long been a well-known and popular. It is used not only in scientific circles, but also in everyday life. We all know what stress is and how it manifests itself, at least at a domestic level. And we know what causes it – all the things that make us nervous. The reasons are individual, ranging from discord in the family to the global crisis.
So what is stress?
It is a state of mental tension of a person that occurs in the most difficult, emotionally demanding situations, i.e. it is the body’s response to various unfavorable factors (stressors) that affect it.
We are used to thinking that stress is necessarily something bad. But that’s not quite true. Originally, the main biological function of stress was the adaptation of the body. Stress was necessary in order to protect a person from various negative manifestations. Therefore, the emergence of stress means that a person gets involved in a certain type of activity aimed at counteracting the dangerous influences to which he is exposed.
So what do we face when we are quarantined for several months? With stress, but in a slightly different way, with its negative manifestation. Our isolated life is a very favorable environment for this stress.
How does stress manifest itself?
There are both psychological and physical manifestations of stress. The most common reactions of the body to stress are:
Unreasonable and frequent attacks of irritability, anger, dissatisfaction with the people around a person, the environment, the world;
lethargy, weakness, depression, passive attitude and unwillingness to communicate with people, even family and friends, rapid fatigue, unwillingness to do anything;
insomnia, restless sleep;
inability to relax, constant tension of the nervous system and the body;
attacks of fear, panic;
poor concentration of attention, lethargy, difficulty in understanding ordinary things, reduced intellectual capacity, memory problems, stuttering;
lack of confidence in oneself and others, fidgeting;
frequent desire to cry and sob, longing, self-pity;
Lack of desire to eat food, or, on the contrary, an excessive desire to eat;
nervous tics, unspecific desire to bite nails, bite lips
increased sweating, increased excitability, digestive system disorders (diarrhea, nausea, vomiting), skin itching, headache, dizziness, palpitations, chest discomfort, breathing problems, feelings of suffocation, spikes in body temperature, chills, numbness or tingling in the extremities.
Stress can negatively affect the functioning of all organs and systems, leading to complex biochemical and physiological disorders, such as increased fatigue, decreased immunity, changes in body weight, and frequent manifestations of malaise. Very often during this period people experience breathing difficulties, heart pain, muscle tension, discomfort with the digestive organs, etc.
It should always be remembered that emotional manifestations of stress are especially dangerous, as they affect various aspects of the psyche, the emotional background and give a pessimistic hue. Depression, irritability, aggression, anger and the appearance of affective states can develop in the case of prolonged exposure to stress.
Possible causes of stress
There are many causes of stress. Here are some reasons for its occurrence in conditions of self-isolation:
1. Fear for their health and the health of loved ones.
2. Problems with work (you have to adapt to a new format of work – remote, find ways to do your work from home).
3. Difficulties with children’s learning (it is difficult for children to adapt to distance learning, and it affects adults as well). 4.
Distractions and multitasking (when everyone is at home, it is very difficult to concentrate and do even the simplest work, we have to do several things at once: make breakfast, talk on the phone with the boss, take care of the child, etc.) 5.
5. Children’s daily routine (children’s daily routine is disrupted, they become hyperactive because of the lack of walks and entertainment, we have to give them more time, spend more energy organizing the processes of learning, rest, etc.)
6. Adults’ daily routine (completely disrupted habitual routine, lack of time, inability to do what they like, lack of physical activity, little time to adapt, abrupt transition from habitual lifestyle to unaccustomed one).
7. Discord in the family because of constant spending time together and absence of personal space (misunderstanding, irritation, lack of rest and time “for oneself,” inevitability of constant contacts, conflicts, various preferences, etc.).
8. Routine life with no or little positive emotions.
An elementary violation of the daily routine, reduction of sleep, night work, refusal of useful habits, inadequate ways of getting rid of stress can lead to the emergence of stress.
Occupational disorders are often observed, i.e. an increase in the number of errors at work, manifested in low productivity of work activities, chronic lack of time, deterioration of accuracy in performing the required efforts. These factors can lead to impairment of social and role functions, which is manifested in a decrease in sensitivity, an increase in conflict, displays of antisocial behavior, sleep disturbances, lack of time, increased fatigue, rushing, problems in communication.
Tips for dealing with stress
Stress is one of the most common causes of disadvantage, suffering and failure of any person, because the modern lifestyle is a constant rush, nerves, emotions. But don’t be afraid of it, stress is a necessary component of human life. It can both decrease and increase the body’s resilience.
Stress can be prevented by providing members of society with favorable conditions for development, freedom in the choice of attitudes and positions in life.Those who constantly live in a nervous environment and daily face stressful situations psychotherapists advise
– Relate in a simpler way to the events that occur and not take them to heart;
– Learn to think positively, finding positive aspects in every incident;
– To switch to pleasant thoughts. If you are overcome by any negative, make yourself think about something else;
– laugh more. As we know, laughter not only prolongs life, but also helps to get rid of nervous tension;
– Limit your consumption of caffeine (coffee, strong black tea) and alcohol;
– Eat a healthy diet and eat food rich in vitamins;
– getting enough sleep. Sound and healthy sleep is very useful;
– Don’t watch or listen to things that make you feel uncomfortable (movies, music, news);
– Do physical exercises as sports are good for getting rid of negativity and coping with stress.
How to cope with stress: three effective ways from Moscow psychologists
Stress today is almost synonymous with modernity: we are constantly in a hurry, solving a huge number of tasks on the run, turning in reports, correspondence in parental chats, stressed, irritated and exhausted. Strengths and moods are at zero, dreams of only one thing: how to make it to the weekend. Is it possible to change this scenario and learn how to cope with stress? Yelena Baranova, Ph.D. in Psychology and a psychologist at Moscow Psychological Aid Service, told about ways to resist the challenges of our time.
Stress resistance – a super power of new times
We speak about stress quite often, and everyone gives this word its own meaning: it is a difficult situation, overcoming of which demands additional forces, and a state of inner tension, dissatisfaction about something or somebody. In any of these cases we say: “I am under stress. And this state can be caused by both unpleasant events and joyful ones, such as a wedding or the birth of a child, the purchase of an apartment or a trip.
Stress is an integral part of human life, one may even say, a necessary one. It mobilizes the body’s internal forces and thereby allows us to cope with different situations on a daily basis. If we cope with a flurry of emotions caused by, say, career advancement, in general successfully, then difficult, tragic events usually knock us out of our rut. In our difficult times of restrictions, pandemics, uncertainty, loss of familiar lifestyle, it is especially important to train the ability to cope with stressors. This is a certain work – internal and external, it is necessary as any other activity, because it gives strength and energy to withstand any difficulties. What does the work on the formation of stress resistance imply? Here we can distinguish three main directions: work with thoughts, feelings and body.
Work with thoughts
Thoughts are the basis of work with stress. They form our emotions, and they in turn are reflected in the body. Thoughts are something a person can and should very well influence. How to do it:
- Stop and tell yourself, “Stop.”
- Transform from negative to positive,
- Track inside yourself and direct them in a positive direction or action.
Thoughts can be written down (keep a diary) or to share experiences with another. Recently I have come across that sometimes the only person ready to listen, support, discuss feelings is not a close friend or relative, but a psychologist. It is especially sad when a child or teenager needs sympathy as he or she feels deeply lonely due to inability to share his or her problems with relatives, to be heard, to receive acceptance and respect for what he or she is going through at a given moment in his or her life.
Working with emotions
All the emotions we experience are important and valuable. They signal what we like or dislike, what is best to avoid, what is safe, or where it makes sense to be cautious. That’s why it’s so important to listen to our emotions, to be in touch with them and, therefore, with ourselves. This is not always easy, because emotional literacy is not taught to us anywhere – not in kindergarten, not at school, not in the family. To understand another person’s feelings and emotions, you need to learn to recognize and understand your own. Some people begin to learn emotional literacy at a mature age (including when they first experience working with a psychologist). That’s great, because it’s never too late to learn.
How to work with your emotions to cope with stressors:
- it is important to be able to recognize your feelings and emotions and learn to express them in words or actions,
- analyze and understand what is behind an emotion,
- Transform a negative emotion into a positive one.
Any written practices are good for this, such as keeping a diary of feelings or regular diary entries in which you can talk about all the events and experiences of the day. Such a dialogue with oneself will allow developing reflection, in other words, the ability to analyze. In addition, written practices partially release accumulated emotions, helping to find the state of inner equilibrium.
The simplest and at the same time the most energy-consuming way to counteract stress is to exercise the body. Daily physical activity is as essential to us as brushing our teeth or eating our meals every day. And these are not empty words. It has been proven that by the 40th minute of exercise, the body produces special substances – endorphins, the hormones of joy. They contribute significantly to our physical health, which is inextricably linked to the health of the mental and psychological.
Knowing about this is not enough, it is more important to proceed to action – to do sports. It requires willpower, overcoming your own laziness, resistance, desire to cuddle up in bed. More important is the motivation, each of us it is different. Some may be based, for example, on an emotional memory that retains positive images and impressions of the past: “How good I felt yesterday after my run! It is necessary to find your own motivation and the type of exercise that you will enjoy. Experiment and find an approach to yourself.
In addition to sports everyone needs any available ways to maintain health: proper nutrition, timely visit the doctor, including preventive, as well as massages, relaxing baths and procedures: what is good for the body is good for the whole nervous system.
Since the body carries the full weight of emotions, taking care of the body and interacting with it in the right way helps to safely live through difficult, difficult feelings. Such experiences do not allow negative emotions to linger in the body, and thus become a possible cause of physical, psychosomatic and partly mental illness.
Relying on your thoughts, body and emotions, you can successfully counteract stressors and strengthen your psychological, physical and mental health. The most important thing is to take care of yourself regularly. If you can’t cope on your own, you can turn to a psychologist for help and work individually or in a group: attend training sessions, psychological support groups and psychotherapy groups.
In the capital, such support is provided in the Moscow Psychological Assistance Service. Here it is possible to sign up for free psychological consultations and webinars. In addition, there is a 24-hour emergency telephone number for psychological help: 051 (for city), +7 (495) 051 (for mobile), as well as a chat room for psychological support on the website www.msph.ru.
Press Service of the Department of Labor and Social Protection of Moscow