How to deal with 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.
- An increase in blood pressure. Under the influence of adrenaline, the cardiac output increases. All this leads to an increased risk of a heart attack. People who smoke and people who are overweight have a significantly increased chance of heart disease.
- People who are constantly stressed are at risk of acute respiratory disease and bronchial asthma. This happens because prolonged overexertion 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 suggested 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 to do that. 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 “GOKPB” 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.
How to get rid of fear and anxiety
Anxiety disorders are a group of mental disorders with a common symptom in the form of anxiety without reason. This is one of the most common pathologies – according to Russian and European psychiatrists, anxiety disorders affect from 15 to 40% of the population. Consider ways to home therapy for this disorder and professional methods of treatment.
How to cope with anxiety?
- Breath control. When you have another anxiety attack, you can do breathing exercises. For example, diaphragmatic breathing: deep breath in for 2 counts, deep exhale for 4 counts. Breathing “belly” – exhale it on the inhale, and retract on the exhale. For body comfort, you can put your hand on your belly.
- Muscle relaxation. Increased anxiety stimulates muscle tension, and it only increases discomfort. To avoid this, learn to relax your muscles. After 7-10 seconds, alternately tense and relax specific muscle groups – forehead, mouth, nose, hands, abs, hips.
Exercise with a notebook/diary:
- Hazard and Consequence Analysis. To deal with a gratuitous or pitting fear, you can ask yourself specific questions and write them down on paper. For example: “What exactly is a bad thing that could happen?”, “What could happen if I do/don’t do something?”. We write out the answers. And then ask a new question for each item – “What exactly can I do now to prevent this situation from happening?” and “What exactly will I do if the event that frightens me happens?” This way helps you feel in control of the situation and makes the future easier and clearer.
- Emotion Diary. An analysis of emotions helps well in anxiety therapy. Try to put down on paper every day my experiences, especially negative ones. In moments of attacks read the diary, paying attention to the date. Most likely, you can easily notice repetitions – the same intrusive thoughts and fears. Moreover, with the help of the diary, you can establish the frequency of anxious thoughts and situations-catalysts that trigger negative symptomatology.
- “Blacklist”. Write out on the sheet all our anxious fears in separate phrases. And add opposite, positive statements opposite each item based on your life experience. For example: “I won’t be able to handle this assignment and I’ll get fired” – “I’ve handled difficult assignments before, solved stressful situations, I can handle the new one, too.” In this case we try not only to write down a motivating phrase, but also to remember, to “relive” the feeling of confidence in one’s abilities.
- Switching Emotions. This technique is good for dealing with acute attacks of panic and fear. Its goal is to replace an intense negative emotion with another, to divert one’s attention. Switches can be tactile and auditory – touch a cold, rough, fluffy object and concentrate on the sensations, turn on your favorite music. It is also possible to use the technique of enumeration – to look at and name the surrounding objects. For example, in groups – find and list 5-10 objects of a given color, density or any other characteristics.
- Expression of feelings. Emotional blocks often prevent us from restraining anxious thoughts – from childhood we are taught to hold back our feelings, to be strong and firm. Because of these attitudes, unexpressed emotional tension appears and grows inside us. To avoid this, try to talk more often. Not necessarily to a living person – you can “talk” to your pet, or imagine a dialogue with a friend, even an imaginary one. Find a secluded place and just talk out loud about everything that bothers you. About how your day went, how things are going with work and school. Don’t worry if the phrases are rambling. Focus on the sensations in your body, and try to express them in words.
Treating Anxiety Disorders
Various psychotherapy techniques are used in the treatment of anxiety disorders. In more severe cases, in the presence of acute psychological and physiological symptoms, medication and hardware physical procedures are added to the work with a psychotherapist.
Psychotherapy for anxiety and fear
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Working through destructive patterns of behavior and thinking that distort perceptions of reality and “trigger” anxiety. Replacement of these patterns with healthy cognitive-behavioral attitudes through individual and group training.
- Psychodynamic therapy. The patient’s current thinking and behavior is examined from the point of view of his or her past traumatic experiences. The therapist uses special exercises to teach the patient to protect himself or herself from painful memories and not to allow them to destroy his or her life.
- Therapy of acceptance and responsibility. The therapist helps the patient understand and accept the inevitability of life circumstances beyond his or her control. And at the same time, the patient is taught techniques for increasing the adaptive capacity of the psyche to spontaneous stress.
- Social skills training. This technique of group and individual therapy is aimed at eliminating complexes and fears related to social interaction. The patient learns techniques for healthy acquaintance and interaction with others, relationship building, and behavior in conflict situations.
- Autogenic training. The patient learns techniques for coping independently with stress, fears, and feelings of anxiety with the help of mental and physical exercises.
- Atypical antipsychotics, anticonvulsants, beta-adrenoblockers – for elimination of acute symptoms: increased psychomotor agitation, respiratory and heartbeat disorders, tremors of extremities.
- Anxiolytics-benzodiazepines – sleeping pills and sedatives for therapy of persistent background anxiety and sleep disorders.
- Tricyclic antidepressants and SSRIs – for treatment of anxiety-depressive symptoms, depressed mood, obsessive thoughts, chronic fatigue.
- Electrosleep. Effects of pulsed low-frequency current on the brain. Starts inhibition processes in the cerebral cortex and has a general calming effect on the central nervous system. Stimulates regenerative processes in brain structures.
- Hydrotherapy. Aromatic, iodobromic and herbal baths have relaxing effect and relieve from physiological symptoms – motor excitement, muscle tremor and pain, headache. Hydrotherapy also helps to strengthen blood vessels.
- Reflex Therapy. Acupuncture and acupressure massage improve blood circulation and stimulate cellular metabolism, have a sedative effect, and increase the stress resistance of the central nervous system.
Symptoms of an anxiety disorder
With anxiety disorders, a person may experience both emotional-behavioral and physiological symptoms.
- Attacks of unreasonable fear
- Background persistent feelings of anxiety and restlessness
- A state of disorientation during the attack
- Obsessive worries about potential mishaps and dangers
- Frequent mood swings
- Lack of positive emotions, depressive background
- Difficulties with concentration
- Rapid fatigue, low capacity for work
- Avoidance of social interactions
- Lowered self-esteem, tendency to be self-critical
- Excessive shyness, self-isolation
- Motor tension, fidgety movements and speech
- Headaches, dizziness, general weakness
- Heart pain, elevated pulse and blood pressure during attacks
- Shortness of breath
- Shivering and numbness in the extremities
- Nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, and diarrhea
- Impaired thermoregulation, excessive sweating
- Insomnia, nightmares, shallow intermittent sleep
- Refusal to eat or nervous overeating
Types of anxiety disorders
Anxiety disorders belong to the group of stress-related neurotic pathologies and somatoform disorders according to the ICD-10. They are divided into several types:
- Generalized. Persistent feelings of anxiety that are not caused by any specific circumstances.
- Panic. Periodic attacks of pronounced panic, appear spontaneously and are not limited to certain circumstances.
- Anxiety-depressive. Background anxiety is combined with a general depressive background with a general degree of symptom severity.
- Social phobias. Fear of attention from others, public speaking, attending public events, and various social interactions (e.g., dating).
- Agoraphobia. Compulsive fear of leaving home, going to public places, riding in transport, solo travel. Often combined with panic attacks in frightening circumstances.
- Isolated phobias. Anxiety and fear attacks associated with specific situations. For example, proximity to frightening animals (arachnophobia, insectophobia), fear of heights (acrophobia), fear of enclosed spaces (claustrophobia).
Mechanisms of anxiety disorders
Why anxiety occurs for no reason is due to the malfunction of the brain’s neurotransmitters.
People with an anxiety disorder have dysfunction of the amygdala (amygdala, amygdala). This structure is responsible for recognizing danger and reacting to fear. Because of the amygdala malfunction, the body receives false information about danger. There is a release of the neurotransmitter adrenaline, the “stress hormone”, which activates the autonomic nervous system reactions.
Our heartbeat speeds up, our blood pressure and muscle tone increase, our breathing speeds up, and we experience nausea and diarrhea. When threatened, all these mechanisms help us – they increase our reaction speed, allow us to attack powerfully or run away quickly. But there is no real danger. And the visceral state becomes excruciating for the person, prevents sober reflection, work or rest.
Causes of anxiety disorders
Among the main causes of anxiety disorders, scientists identify both biological and psychosocial factors.
- Heredity. Genetic disorders of the amygdala and increased levels of adrenaline production.
- Damage to the brain. Cranial injuries and infections that cause damage to the amygdala, disrupting the neurotransmitter balance.
- Pathologies of the cardiovascular and endocrine system. Anxiety disorder symptoms can be a consequence of coronary heart disease, thyroid dysfunction.
A heavy work schedule, constant financial difficulties, conflicts at home and at work, illnesses of loved ones.
- Psychological traumas. Negative experiences from the past – experienced physical, sexual and psychological abuse, excessively strict upbringing and inconsistent behavior of parents, loss of loved ones, difficult separation, social bullying, extreme situations (war, natural disasters).
- Internal conflicts. Chronic problems with self-esteem, dissatisfaction with their work, creative or social success, a tendency to self-injury.
- Mental disorders. Anxiety as a symptom of alcohol or drug addiction, depression, neurasthenia, paranoia and manic disorder, schizophrenia.
Consequences of an anxiety disorder
Since it is extremely difficult to get rid of fear and anxiety on their own, without treatment, the disorder often quickly progresses and becomes chronic, destroying all areas of a person’s life.