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Stress is your body’s way of reacting to a change that requires an adjustment or response.
The World Health Organization has termed stress to be the health epidemic of the 21st century, in which stress levels have increased between 10-30% among all demographic groups in the U.S between 1983-2009. Stress occurs when you are feeling overwhelmed and struggling to cope with demands in your life. It is your body’s natural defense against danger and flushes your body with hormones to prepare it to evade or confront the threat, also known as the “fight-or-flight” mechanism. These demands, or stressors, could be related to your work, home, relationships, and other situations. Stress is essential to your survival and can be a motivator – either positive or negative. It is how you respond to these stressors that determine how you deal with stress.
According to the American Psychological Association, average stress levels in the United States increased from 4.9 to 5.1 on a scale of 1 to 10 in 2015, and two significant stressors, employment and money, were the most prevalent reasons. During the recession of 2008, about 8.4 million jobs were lost and those who were still employed found themselves working around the clock to keep up with their job demands which resulted in dismal cultures and high workplace stress levels. The rise of technology has also played a part in our population’s increased stress levels. With smartphones and tablets, workplace stress continues to rise because people find themselves even more connected to technology, the daily stresses of work, and the lack of separation from emails, work calls, and tasks that can be quickly done via mobile device.
It’s human to feel stressed – our bodies are designed to experience stress as a natural reaction to any kind of demand that disrupts life as usual. Stress is often associated more with negative stressors (i.e., economic problems, being laid off, car broke down) but there is also positive stress which can give you the motivation to conquer your fears or give you extra endurance to meet a deadline at work. It is when stress becomes more constant that our response to it becomes more physically and mentally apparent and harder to cope with.
The symptoms of stress can come in various forms: physical, emotional, and behavioral.
Everyone differs in how they react to stressful situations. You may think starting a new job is exciting and fresh while someone else may feel nervous and scared. Moreover, sometimes the causes are unknown. Someone who has mental health issues can easily get stressed. Some common causes of stresses are:
Stress comes in three different forms: acute, episodic, and chronic.
Acute stress is the most common stress that occurs for only a short period with symptoms such as emotional distress, muscular problems, stomach/bowel problems, and transient over-arousal.
Episodic stress refers to those who suffer acute stress frequently and see nothing wrong with the way they conduct their lives since their lifestyle and personality issues are so ingrained and habitual. A few symptoms of episodic stress are extended over-arousal which include persistent tension headaches, migraines, hypertension, chest pain, and heart disease.
With chronic stress, it is long-term and never-ending. Chronic stress gradually increases your resting heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, and levels of muscle tension. These physical changes create a new normal within the body where the body has to work even harder when it’s at rest to keep the body functioning normally. It can lead to heart disease, diabetes, chronic pain, high blood pressure, and depression. Chronic stress comes from unfortunate situations where there doesn’t appear to be a way out, which often stems from early childhood experiences that become internalized and remain painful.
Stressors are situations you might perceive as a threat to your well-being and makes it a challenge to handle. There are two different types of stressors: eustress (positive) and distress (negative). Eustress is a “beneficial” or “adaptive” type of stress which motivates you to continue working through the task at hand, while distress, known as the “bad” stress, when something becomes too difficult for you to cope with. In eustress, stress is usually positive, short-term, possibly improves performance, and easily manageable whereas with distress, stress is generally unpleasant, often depletes energy, can be short or long-term, decreases overall performance, can lead to physical and mental depletion, and cannot be managed. Some factors that can lead to the experience of eustress are having a child, buying a new home, getting married, or learning something new.
There are a few ways to manage your stress, so you don’t feel overwhelmed to the point where coping makes daily activities difficult for extended periods of time.
At the Behavioral Health Associates of Broward, we provide confidential counseling services to individuals and stress management is one of our specialties. Our clinicians have extensive experience and can help you in identifying your stressors and develop a plan to manage your stress. This plan can include different coping techniques, lifestyle changes, and group therapy.
Your well-being matters to us. Contact Behavioral Health Associates of Broward for more information, and we will be ready to assist you on the road to stress management and a healthier outlook on stress in daily life. Call us at 954-909-0888 to schedule an appointment today. Start your journey to stress management with Behavioral Health Associates of Broward.