Everyone experiences stress in their lives. Stress is the body’s natural response to a demand, challenge, or change. Most people associate stress with negative things such as an overwhelming workload or going through a divorce. However, sometimes stress can be good — such as the feelings you get when you’re competing in a race. The important thing to understand about stress is that it’s subjective, so only the person experiencing it can determine whether or not it is causing a problem in their life. While you may never be able to get rid of stress entirely, it’s helpful to focus your attention on alleviating unnecessary stress while finding effective methods for coping with the stress that simply can’t be avoided.
What Is Stress?
The term “stress” is often used as a vague description for anything that causes mental or physical pressure, but in actuality, it can be associated with a very real and specific biological reaction. Before people became stressed about meeting work deadlines and saving enough money to pay for their mortgage, they were stressed about things that were tied to daily survival. For instance, when subjected to a life-threatening situation, the body would react by producing chemicals such as cortisol and adrenaline that increase heartbeat and breathing and rush blood to the muscles. This biological “fight or flight” response prepares the body to face imminent danger and increases the chances of survival.
Today, humans aren’t faced with the same dangers they were thousands of years ago, but the body is still programmed to respond the same way. Unfortunately, putting your body in a constant state of alert can eventually take its toll physically and psychologically.
Types of Stress
Stress is something that is unique to each person, but that doesn’t mean that all stress is the same. To gain a better understanding of stress and how to manage it, it’s helpful to first take a look at the types of stress.
Acute stress is an intense, short-term form of stress. It’s the daily experiences and encounters that happen to everyone. For instance, running late for a meeting or narrowly avoiding a car accident are examples of acute stress. Although these minor forms of stress can add up over time, for most people, they are usually harmless.
Chronic stress is the type of stress that occurs when you’re dealing with a high-pressure situation for an extended period of time. Some examples might be living with a long-term illness, being the victim in an abusive relationship, or working long hours at a job you hate. Unfortunately, if left unmanaged, chronic stress can have a detrimental effect on your physical and mental health.
Episodic Acute Stress
This form of stress is similar to acute stress, but instead of being caused by infrequent or random daily experiences, it seems to happen with frequent regularity. For some people, episodic acute stress is the result of doing certain things or behaving a certain way. In other words, it can be a type of avoidable stress. Someone who tends to take on too much responsibility or is a procrastinator can contribute to their own stress.
The fourth type of stress is known as eustress. This is the positive or “good” stress. People can experience eustress in all areas of their life. It’s a positive motivator that brings energy and excitement to everyday life. Some examples of eustress include taking on a new work challenge, learning a new skill, traveling to a place you’ve never been to before, and even something as simple as riding a rollercoaster.
Impact of Stress On Health
Each person responds to stress differently, but the common connection is that if negative stress is not managed properly, it can take a tremendous toll on your health. The following are some of the potential consequences of unmanaged stress.
- Increased heartbeat
- Aches and pains
- Nausea or stomach problems
- High blood pressure
- Trouble sleeping
- Chest pain
- Weight gain
- Higher risk of heart attack
Mental and Emotional Effects
- Trouble concentrating
Behavioral Effects and Complications Arising From Poor Stress Management
People who struggle with chronic or episodic acute stress often turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms that further exacerbate their problems. Some of those maladaptive behaviors include stress eating, overuse of drugs or alcohol, smoking, compulsive shopping, gambling, or engaging in other risky behaviors.
Maladaptive coping strategies may offer some relief from stress, but their benefits are short-lived. Relying on these negative activities to help you feel better will only increase the stress and anxiety you are feeling and make you less resilient to any new stressors that come your way.
Effective Stress Management
Stress is an unavoidable part of life, but there are several healthy and effective ways to manage it. Some techniques are designed to relieve stress at the moment while others are aimed at building resilience or reducing stress altogether.
Developing beneficial long-term habits such as engaging in regular exercise, healthy eating, and daily meditation can be very effective for helping someone build mental fortitude so they can manage stressors and avoid feelings of being overwhelmed.
Another self-help strategy is to identify avoidable causes of stress and eliminate them whenever possible. Oftentimes people find that there is one primary cause of their stress such as a job or relationship and making a change in that area can minimize your overall stress level significantly.
Although self-help techniques can be beneficial, seeking help from a licensed therapist is essential and much more effective. Stress management therapy helps patients better understand the cause of their stress so they can change their situation. Specific stress therapies such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy are also particularly effective for helping people change their negative thought patterns, thereby reducing the overall impact of one’s stress.
Contact Blair Wellness Group For Stress Management Therapy in Los Angeles
Stress can be a positive influence and a strong motivator, but negative or chronic stress can be damaging to health and hold people back from living a more fulfilling and enjoyable life. If stress is taking over your life and causing you to feel overwhelmed or suffer physically and mentally, we encourage you to contact Blair Wellness Group at 310-999-4996 for stress management therapy in Los Angeles.
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