Stress and ways to overcome it
The quickening pace of modern life has led to a considerable increase in physical, mental, emotional stress on man caused by household problems, interpersonal relations, the content of professional activity, information overload. Quite often a person has to be in a state of emotional tension, experiencing a sense of increased anxiety, worry, self-doubt, i.e. experience the so-called STRESS. Such conditions are often accompanied not only by disturbed mental equilibrium, but also by a number of negative changes in the functioning of physiological mechanisms in the human body. According to WHO, up to 40% of the world’s population needs help from medical specialists.
WHAT IS STRESS, WHAT ARE ITS CAUSES AND FACTORS
The term “stress” (translated from English stress) means “pressure, pressure, tension”.
According to the Explanatory Dictionary of the Russian language, “Stress is a state of tension of the human or animal organism as a protective reaction to various unfavorable factors (cold, hunger, physical and mental trauma, etc.)”.
In its essence, stress is the human body’s response to overstress, negative and positive emotions. During stress, the human body produces the hormone adrenaline, which causes the body to seek an outlet. Everyone needs stress in small amounts, because it makes them think, look for a way out of the problem, and in this case it has a positive value. But on the other hand, if the stress becomes too much, the body weakens, loses strength, the ability to solve problems and can cause serious illness.
Stresses can be divided into:
- Positive and negative – according to the degree of emotional coloring.
- Short-term and long-term (or acute and chronic) – by duration.
- Physiological and psychological – the latter, in turn, are subdivided into informational and emotional according to the cause of occurrence.
Sources of stress can be:
External – moving to a new place of residence, job change, death of a loved one, divorce, everyday troubles related to money problems, meeting obligations by a certain deadline, arguments, family relationships, lack of sleep.
Internal – revision of life values and beliefs, changes in personal self-esteem, etc.
Causes and factors causing stress (psychologists call them stressors) are varied and numerous:
- Changes in life (vacations, new job, marriage, divorce, etc.);
- any strong emotion;
- physical trauma, surgery, illness;
- sudden changes in temperature, etc.
Any kind of change, even positive ones, forces us to adapt to new circumstances. But with all the variety of experiences and shocks that occur in our lives, the body’s reaction to any stress is essentially the same – the body triggers biochemical processes developed centuries ago, the purpose of which is to cope with the extreme situation. Over time, the effects of stressors add up and accumulate. The more of them in our life at a given period, the higher will be our stress level.
Protective reaction of an organism under continuous or repeated action of a stressor passes through three definite stages.
- In the first stage – the alarm reaction (in response to an irritation, regardless of its nature), there is an activation of all systems of the body.
- In the second stage – the stage of resistance (resistance, resistance), the body begins to adapt to the continuing action of the stressor.
- The third stage is the stage of exhaustion, which occurs during prolonged exposure to a stressor. The energy required for adaptation is depleted, the overall resistance of the body drops dramatically. If you don’t get help during this period, the exhaustion stage can lead to serious illness and even death.
SYMPTOMS OF STRESS AND ITS POSSIBLE EFFECTS
Symptoms may gradually increase or occur suddenly, within minutes. Anxiety, anxiety and panic attacks occur, usually of short duration, in the form of emotional outbursts, accompanied by feelings of dread and body reactions such as heart palpitations and sweating. Anxiety usually develops gradually. Symptoms may also include muscle tension, fatigue, irritability, impatience, insomnia or sleep disorders, difficulty concentrating, mood swings, or conversely, overexcitement, anger, memory impairment, increased fatigue, etc.
Stresses are the main risk factors for many diseases and their exacerbation: cardiovascular (myocardial infarction, stenocardia, hypertension), gastrointestinal tract (gastritis, peptic ulcer and duodenal ulcer), reduced immunity.
Negative reactions are caused not only by strong, acute, but also by small, but prolonged stressful influences. Therefore, prolonged psychological stress, depression can also lead to disease.
The treatment of stress with medication is indicated only with a doctor’s prescription. Depending on the patient’s condition, the doctor may prescribe sedatives (drugs that reduce nervous tension and anxiety, as well as reducing feelings of fear) or tranquilizers (drugs that help relieve emotional tension).
WAYS AND PRINCIPLES OF COPING WITH STRESS
Each of us has a different level of stress, which is determined by hereditary and other factors, and a different level of attitude and response to stress.
Different people respond to stress in different ways: some begin to consume unimaginable amounts of food, others lose their appetite altogether; some have difficulty falling asleep at night, while others experience sleepiness even during the day.
The basic principles of coping with stress include:
- Distraction from the stressful situation – if what happens makes a strong impression on a person and he continues to think about it afterwards, then he gets “stuck” in the stressful situation and thinks not about how to resolve it, but constantly worries about the events that happened. To distract from the stressful situation, it is necessary to think about something else related to pleasant feelings and experiences (rest, a pleasant event, personal achievements).
- Reducing the subjective significance of the event that caused the stress – reconsider your attitude to what happened according to the principle: “What goes wrong is for the best…”.
- Active behavior – don’t keep the feelings and emotions that caused stress inside, but release the accumulated energy by doing something even unthinkable (for example, cleaning a window or the floor with a toothbrush, wiping clean dishes, etc.); as well as playing sports, soccer, volleyball, etc.
- Knowing how to relax – stress causes general tension and an increase in the frequency of brain waves. Relaxation, on the contrary, reduces their frequency, which leads to a decrease in the level of excitation of the central nervous system.
- Positive thinking – a positive way of thinking and the positive emotions of kindness, love, joy associated with it are the main personal tool for ensuring health and well-being.
Other ways to relieve stress and maintain mental health include the following:
- Remain optimistic in any situation.
- Strive to be reasonably organized in life, work, and life.
- Learn to tell yourself no, not to take on too many problems, especially other people’s, determine the boundaries of their own abilities.
- Learn to enjoy life.
- Not to be a maximalist.
- Not to rummage in your past and not to regret what you didn’t do or didn’t do right.
- Observe a correct regime of nutrition, sleep and rest.
- Do not abuse alcohol, abstain from bad habits.
- Lead a healthy and active lifestyle, doing daily physical exercises and self-massage of the head, neck, shoulders and feet.
- If necessary, reduce the pace of life and reconsider some life attitudes.
Remember! It’s impossible to completely eliminate stressful situations from life, but you can live and work so as to reduce their number to a minimum, minimize their consequences and thereby keep your health for years to come.
How to cope with stress?
You would be surprised, but absolutely everyone has the ability to influence the level of stress in their life. You can learn how to manage your own perception and evaluation of what is happening, how to control your thoughts and emotions, and learn to change something in yourself and the world around you. There are several strategies, mastering at least one of which will enable you to reduce and prevent stress, be more resilient in dealing with difficult situations and make your life much better.
Often it seems as if there is nothing you can do to reduce the amount of stress in your life. For example, you can’t do more hours in the day to get everything done, you can’t reduce your financial obligations, change a crazy and exhausting job, affect the atmosphere in the house, and the like. That’s not really the case. You have the power to change everything. To do so, you need to realize and accept responsibility for what is happening to you.
Let’s figure out step by step how you can do this!
Step 1: Identify the main sources of stress
This is not always as easy as it sounds. The source of stress may not be obvious. For example, you often worry that you won’t meet a deadline for something. You think it’s because of the sheer volume of work. When in fact, it is because you tend to put things off, or you cannot say “no” when you are asked to do something that is not part of your responsibilities, or you cannot finish a step and move on to the next one because you want to do everything perfectly.
Try to make a diary for at least a week, where you will note situations in which you feel anxious or irritated. This will help you identify stereotypical patterns. Write down the following.
- What caused the anxiety or irritation?
- How did you feel emotionally and physically?
- How did you behave in the situation?
- What did you do to make yourself feel better?
Step 2: Notice how you are dealing with stress in the present
Your journal will help you determine if your ways of coping with stress are productive. If these ways are ineffective and unhealthy, you need to eliminate them from your arsenal.
A list of unsuccessful ways of coping with stress:
- Taking alcohol;
- Smoking in larger quantities than usual;
- Spending hours in front of the television or computer;
- isolation from family, friends, active leisure;
- use of medications, drugs;
- Trying to sleep more so as not to think about bad things;
- putting things off for later;
- filling every minute with something so as not to solve real problems;
- taking the accumulated negative thoughts out on others.
Step 3: Learn new strategies
If your ways of dealing with stress aren’t very conducive to health and quality of life, you can change them. There are many different ways, but they all involve changing the situation or your reaction to it. Everyone is different, and the situations they find themselves in are also non-identical, so there is no technique or strategy that will work for everyone all the time. So experiment and find something that works for you.
Strategy #1. Avoid unnecessary stress.
Not all stress-inducing situations can be avoided. It’s not good and useless to walk away from solving problems that need solving. But still, some things that provoke stress are worth eliminating.
- Learn to say “no.” This applies to both the work and the family. Do not commit yourself more than you can control and perform.
- If possible, avoid people who throw you off balance.
- Eliminate the things that turn you on. If it is the news, stop watching it. If it’s traffic, choose a different route or change your travel time.
- Avoid discussing topics that throw you off balance. These can be issues of politics, various misfortunes and disasters in the world, etc.
- Analyze your daily duties and tasks. Separate what is really important from the secondary. Put everything that is not of primary importance at the end of your to-do list or remove it altogether.
Strategy #2. Change the situation
If you can’t avoid the situation, try to change it.
- Voice your emotions and desires to those with whom you have difficulty communicating. Just do it in a respectful way, and then their behavior and attitude towards you may change. If you keep it all inside, you will only accumulate resentment and create the preconditions for conflict, and the situation will not change.
- Be willing to compromise.
- Do not be shy to defend your interests. For example, if someone wants to talk to you, and you have other things to do, then say that you only have five minutes to talk, unfortunately. Or when they ask you to do something at work, at home, which will be a clear overload for you, just politely refuse.
- Try to organize your time in advance. Feeling like there’s so much to do and you don’t have time for it is clearly not conducive to peace of mind.
Strategy #3. Adapt to the situation
If you can’t change the situation, you can try to change yourself, change your attitude and expectations about it.
- Look at the situation in a more positive way. For example, instead of getting angry that you are stuck in traffic, it is better to see this time as an opportunity to relax, be alone with yourself, think about what you can’t get to in your hectic life, or just enjoy your favorite music.
- Assess the situation as if from the future. Answer the question, how much of what is happening will matter in a month, a year? Is it all really worth your nerves? If not, then focus your attention and energy on something else, something more useful.
- Make your standards more adequate. Striving to do everything perfectly, better than anyone else, always flawless, so that you can not criticize neither yourself, nor others, leads to tremendous emotional stress. It’s important not to be perfect in and of itself, but that your efforts to achieve the goals, and for this often suffices to do something just fine.
- Periodically remind yourself of your strengths, achievements, successes. Doing this regularly, you allow your psyche to not drown in negative information flows, and can easily overcome difficult situations.
Strategy #4. Accept the situation as it is
Some situations are impossible to avoid, prevent or change, no matter how much you’d like to. For example, the death of a loved one, a serious illness, the government system, changes in the marketplace, or your child’s unwillingness or inability to learn. It’s better to assume that because it happened, it was meant to happen. Remember, accepting doesn’t mean being passive. It just allows you to remain more calm and reasonable, which means it will be easier for you to develop further tactics and strategies for behavior.
- Don’t try to control what you can’t and influence it. Many things in life are beyond your control. For example, the thinking and behavior of others, the situation in the country, the behavior of the markets. Better determine what depends on you, your area of responsibility, and how you can improve your situation.
- Find something positive about the situation. Remember that anything that doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. Difficulties are always an opportunity to come up with something new, to learn something, to have an experience that you will be proud of and warmly remember later.
- Share your experiences with someone. Just by talking about the difficulties you’re going through, you may feel a sense of relief.
- Learn to be less demanding of yourself, people and the world. The world is what it is, and it doesn’t have to be perfect or what we think is right.
- Learn to forgive. People are imperfect and cannot do only what is good. Our actions are greatly influenced by our genetics, the circumstances around us, and the circumstances we grew up in. Free yourself from anger, resentment, move on, allow yourself to experience more constructive emotions.
Step #4. Make time for relaxation, rest, and activities that bring you joy
This will allow you to be in a better mood and become more resilient to stress. Taking time to relax and feel positive is not a bliss, it’s a necessity. Remember to take care of yourself. Carve out time where you belong to yourself for at least twenty minutes daily.
- Take regular walks.
- Spend more time in nature.
- Don’t forget to socialize with friends.
- Relieve stress with good exercise.
- Keep a journal, a blog.
- Take a long shower, bath, or go to the bathhouse.
- Sit with scented candles or a lamp.
- Enjoy a cup of tea or coffee somewhere beautiful.
- Play with your pet.
- Do some work in your garden.
- Get a massage.
- Read something entertaining.
- Listen to music or go to a concert.
- Watch a comedy.
- Talk to people who make you feel positive.
Step #5. Try to live a healthy lifestyle.
This will improve your physical health and, as a result, your resistance to stress.