How to fight stress
Achievements of scientific and technological progress, accelerated rhythm of life require more mental efforts. Overwhelming information flows, rapid changes in society, increasing multitasking turn into constant tension, which depletes mental and physical resources. To withstand the stressful conditions, many begin taking antidepressants, tranquilizers, which are not without side effects. Psychologists recommend safer, but effective methods of maintaining the psychophysiological state. About how to combat stress without harm to health, we will tell in this article.
What is stress?
The concept of “stress” was introduced into medicine at the beginning of the last century by American physiologist W. Cannon. The doctor denoted with one succinct word a nonspecific adaptive response of the body to neuro-psychological overload. In the post-war years Cannon’s research was continued by his student (Canadian endocrinologist H. Selye), and by the end of the XX century the study of stress conditions and their consequences acquired a worldwide scale.
Stress can be both positive and negative. In the first case it is eustress – a bright positive event, which passes without complications for the body, charges positive, ends with relaxation. In the second case we are talking about distress – prolonged tension of the nervous system, the accumulation of negative emotions. Such a condition negatively affects the entire body, which is due to the close connection between the mental component and the somatic component. Permanent stress often leads to psycho-emotional dysfunctions, addictions, development of chronic diseases.
It is established that the inhabitants of megapolises, persons with a labile psyche, teenagers, people of the advanced age are more exposed to nervous and mental overload.
Causes of stress reactions
Stress is caused by neuropsychological overload and psychotraumatic situations. The more attention a person pays to his problems, the more it affects his mental and somatic health.
The main provoking factors include:
- Psychotraumas. For example, the news of an incurable illness, the death of a loved one, bankruptcy, loss of property, a difficult divorce process.
- Workaholism. Regardless of the type of work (mental or physical), a non-stop regime leads to burnout, chronic stress.
- Physical injuries – car accidents, injuries, assaults, surgeries that result in disability.
- Unresolved or slowly resolved problems – financial and housing difficulties, illness of relatives, protracted litigation, lengthy treatment or rehabilitation.
- Problems in the family and society – constant tension in marital relations, conflicts with colleagues, superiors, neighbors, and acquaintances.
- Age Crisis. Stress reactions, especially in women, cause age-related changes.
- Adaptation situation – moving to another city, job changes, changes in living conditions, etc.
Psychiatrists and psychologists separately consider variants of violence, which often lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Signs and symptoms
Psycho-emotional tension affects a person’s behavior. Some people experience a feeling of anxiety, excessive excitement (like a fugiform reaction), become restless, irritable, sometimes aggressive. Others withdraw into themselves, become depressed, and begin to behave in a detached manner. Why does this happen? The response to stress depends on the initial state of health and personality accentuation – personal vulnerability to the influence of various psychogenic factors.
The stress response affects the brain, nervous system, and internal organs. This is due to increased production of adrenaline and the neurotransmitter norepinephrine. In a shock situation, the level of adrenaline rises rapidly, forcing a lightning-fast “hit or run” decision. However, after a while the hormone returns to normal. In chronic stress, blood levels of adrenaline are constantly elevated, leading to physiological and mental malfunctions.
- insomnia, anxiety, panic attacks;
- muscle tension;
- intermittent dizziness;
- tremors in the extremities;
- decreased immunity;
- impaired cognitive function.
A person becomes distracted, capricious, tearful, his mood constantly changes, there is a feeling of uselessness.
Stress is dangerous to health.
A disturbed hormonal background threatens the development of diseases such as
- hypertension with the possibility of a stroke;
- arrhythmia, coronary heart disease;
- functional disorders of the adrenal cortex, the formation of pheochromocytoma (hormone-active tumor);
- metabolic disorders, thyroid gland malfunction;
- stress ulcers of the stomach;
- chronic fatigue syndrome;
- erectile dysfunction, NOMC (disorders of the ovarian and menstrual cycle).
Constant anxiety leads to mental health disorders. Such conditions develop:
- Psychogenic depression. The main postulates are hopelessness, senselessness. The past arouses disgust, the future seems unpromising, the present has no sense.
- Mental disorders – anhedonia (loss of ability to rejoice), abulia (decrease in volitional qualities), anorexia nervosa.
- Phobias – futurophobia (fear of the future), sociophobia (fear of people), neophobia (fear of change and everything new).
- Affective disorders of the severity, adequacy and stability of emotions.
Suicidal ideation is not uncommon with distress. The desire to leave problems and relieve stress turns into alcohol or drug addiction.
Ways to fight it
It is necessary to understand why the emotions are out of control, and accept the cause of the stress reaction. To do this, it is recommended to analyze your feelings, thoughts, confess your desires, return the lost feelings. It is quite difficult to do this on your own. With chronic stress, professional help is needed. Classes with a psychotherapist include cognitive therapy, Gestalt therapy, psychoanalysis, therapy of personal growth.
If the condition has not reached a critical point, well help independent ways to combat stress. Their goal is the superficial processing of negative emotions (according to the “here and now” principle). Psychologists recommend:
- Writing down thoughts when an emotional wave hits. Reading through what you have written after some time, you can better understand the problem, separating the main from the secondary.
- Clean the house regularly. Confusion in things is reflected by confusion in thoughts and feelings.
- Drink vitamins for the nervous system and general strengthening multivitamin complexes. Distress depletes the body, so you need to replenish lost nutrients.
- Maximize physical activity. Sports distract from worries, regular exercise speeds up blood circulation, reduces the level of adrenaline in the blood.
- Master mindfulness – the art of attention management, presence in the present moment. It helps to reduce anxiety, not to succumb to emotional outbursts, reflex reactions.
- Take herbal teas at night. Phytotherapy has long been shown to be highly effective.
- Do breathing exercises. Exercises are good for relaxation, normalize heart activity, and speed up the metabolism.
- Use aromatherapy products. Aromas of different essential oils can cheer you up, lift your mood, encourage action or, conversely, calm you down, set you up for a pleasant rest.
- Find time for hobbies. Long-abandoned or new hobbies will help switch from negative to positive.
- Communicate with relatives and friends. Vocal and listened to the problem – the first step to its solution.
- Don’t give up something that gives joy and pleasure. In periods of emotional instability, it is important to receive positive emotions.
Women in this matter well help shopping – buying new clothes, cosmetics or household goods.
Shall we dance?
One effective way to combat stress is to do random dance movements to your favorite music. Together with energy, worries, fears and excitement escape.
During stress, muscle tone increases. Consider a few simple exercises for the relaxation of the muscular apparatus:
- Starting position – sitting on the floor with legs wide apart. Put your left hand on your right side, inhale deeply, lift your right hand vertically and swing it from side to side. Repeat with the other arm.
- Initial position is lying on back. Lift your legs, bend at the knees, pull them to the chest and put your arms around them. Start rocking slowly, keeping the body position.
- Starting position is sitting, feet together. Raise your hands up, slowly bend forward. Reach your hands to your feet, trying to “fold” in half.
It is important not to make sudden movements, and to do the exercises in a leisurely rhythm (smoothly).
From the tools you need only an alarm clock:
- For a minute, watch how the second hand moves, without being distracted by sounds, thoughts, emotions, feelings.
- Set the alarm for a random daily time. When it rings, we stop, distract ourselves, and mentally answer the questions: “Where am I? What do I hear? What do I see? What emotions am I experiencing? What does my body feel?”
Exercise helps you “dive out” of the turmoil, focus, calm down, and reduce anxiety.
In dealing with stress, it is important to learn how to shift attention from negative emotions to positive ones, and to rest regularly. One should not exclude sports, walks, give up hobbies, socializing with friends, and things that bring joy.
How to fight stress
Stressful situations happen in everyone’s life. The modern situation in the world, the oversaturation of information, the galloping rhythm contribute to this. The psyche is additionally affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Each of us seeks to have time for everything, and also to have time to communicate with family, friends, visit beauty salons, stores, and all this to do in a day. In this article the reader will learn what is harmful and dangerous stress and how to resist it.
What is stress
Stress is a normal reaction of a healthy body to a threat or overwork. In this way it tries to resist high loads, fear, excessive physical and psychological activity. As a result of such protection, first of all the nervous system suffers.
If the overload protection works in normal mode, it is not terrible. So a person stays awake, efficient and fit for a long time. However, often such loads are excessive. It is detrimental to health and causes chronic diseases.
Stress is an abnormal state of the body. When a person is exposed to it for a long time, the body expends energy intensively.
What are the causes of stress
There are many causes of stress. Each person has an individual body and psyche. One and the same factor may not affect one of us at all, but another cause a violent reaction. The most common factors in the development of stress are:
- conflict situations at work or at home;
- lack of money;
- prolonged absence of a meaningful vacation;
- routine life with a lack of changes;
- death of a relative or loved one;
- lack of vitamins, poor nutrition;
- problems in sexual life;
- a sudden change in the environment;
- other reasons that can catch a person out.
Symptoms of stress
Each person reacts to stress in a different way. Common in all reactions is a negative effect on the psyche and on the physical state. A person becomes aggressive, his mood deteriorates. It happens that the stress causes other reactions – it’s silence, detachment, passivity and withdrawal. It all depends on the type of temperament.
Characteristic signs of stress are as follows:
- Inability to concentrate on any one activity;
- unreasonable attacks of irritability, anger, dissatisfaction with others;
- lethargy and weakness, a depressive state;
- insomnia, nightmares and dreams;
- inability to fully relax and rest;
- panic attacks, constant feeling of fear;
- desire to cry, melancholy;
- lack of confidence in oneself and others;
- absence of appetite or, on the contrary, a desire to eat a lot;
- sudden occurrence of bright and strong emotions (for example, laughter, which is quickly replaced by tears and vice versa)
- hyperhidrosis, irritability, itchy skin and scalp pain;
- dizziness, rapid breathing;
- numbness of extremities;
- nervous tics; desire to bite nails or lips;
- interest in alcohol or drugs;
- chronic fatigue that does not disappear even after a night’s rest.
What are the dangers of stress
Stress releases cortisol, which alters the work of the entire body. First of all, the cardiovascular and nervous system suffer. People who are frequently stressed suffer from the following symptoms
- redness of the skin, a rash;
- chronic fatigue;
- weight loss or, conversely, the development of obesity;
- stool disorders.
Prolonged exposure to stress is dangerous for the body because it causes such consequences.
- Increase in blood pressure. In this case, under the influence of adrenaline, the cardiac output increases. All this leads to an increased risk of a heart attack. In people who smoke and those who are overweight, the likelihood of heart disease increases significantly.
- People who are constantly stressed are at risk of acute respiratory diseases and bronchial asthma. This happens because prolonged stress and hormonal malfunctions disturb the immune system. Medical research shows that permanent stressful situations in adults adversely affect the health of their children.
- Chronic stress has a negative impact on the digestive tract. A person often develops gastritis and peptic ulcer disease. In addition, stress has a negative impact on the intestinal microflora, which causes pain, flatulence, diarrhea, or constipation.
- Musculoskeletal problems. Brittle bones and the likelihood of developing a fracture increases.
- Endocrine disorders. Stresses lead to increased production of glucocorticoids, particularly cortisol. Increased levels of this hormone in the blood can cause diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and depression. There is an increased risk of autoimmune pathologies.
- Stress exhausts the central and autonomic nervous system.
To prevent the dangerous effects of stress on the body, it is important to learn how to deal with it.
Ways to cope with stress
In any stressful situation, it is very important not to lose composure and control. You can cope with the influx of emotions with the help of such actions.
- Sit down and relax. It is important to ask yourself how important the problem at the moment is, and how its solution (or lack of solution) will affect the near future (a few months, a year or five years). This will help you realize the importance of the anxiety state.
- Write down on paper individual words or phrases that come to mind when you are stressed. This will be a kind of distraction. These phrases can be read the next day and understand how stressful the events are.
- Swipe your index finger horizontally across your lips. This technique calms well and quickly.
- Tense all your muscles, clench your fists and clench your teeth for 10 seconds. This will help you feel how the body switches, how relaxation comes
- Try any classic relaxation techniques. It could be a walk, a warm bath, herbal tea, a bar of chocolate, a hobby, a chat with friends. Maybe this is what will help you relax.
- Try to turn the negative into a positive. The most important thing is not to let stress take over the mountain.
- Interrupt the overpowering stress, the negative thought. To do this, you can simply clap your hands.
- Do not turn off the phone, ignore the attention of loved ones, friends. It is necessary to avoid in every possible way even the thought of hiding from others. Live communication is the best medicine against stress. On the contrary, it is not necessary to withdraw into yourself: this will only aggravate the situation.
The recommended techniques for dealing with stress are not complicated. If you turn to them for a few days after a difficult situation, they will definitely help. Even one of the proposed techniques will help to cope with a difficult situation.
By learning to control stress, you can reduce the risks of depression, bronchial asthma, heart and vascular disease, gastritis and obesity. It doesn’t take much at all. Even a small change in lifestyle will improve your condition and reduce the negative effects of stress.
The Reeder Self-Assessment Stress Scale can be recommended as a rapid diagnostic method. Take the test ONLINE
Author of the article
Mikhail Ivanovich Skvira
Graduated from Educational Establishment “State State Medical University” with a degree in “medical business”. Clinical psychologist, master’s degree in psychology, from 2016 to 2018 the leading specialist in the UH “GOCPB” to work with alcohol dependence by the method “Edelweiss”, the author of articles and publications. Awarded a commendation for many years of fruitful work in the health care system. Work experience: 18 years