Many times hidden, covered up, forgotten, stress is one of the great evils of our time, if we don’t pay attention to it and learn to reduce its consequences.
Recognized as a disease by the World Health Organization, today it is known that stress can affect all human beings, regardless of their age and social status.
We find ourselves in stressful situations on multiple occasions and it is known that moving, divorce and changing jobs are three of the most stressful activities in adult life. But what is stress? What causes stress? Are all symptoms of stress necessarily bad? Is stress always a disease?
What is stress?
Stress is like an alarm signal, a reaction of our body to a threat or an excessive demand of what we undertake. The body increases respiratory capacity, the pupils dilate, the heartbeat accelerates and sugar is released to use the muscles and thus respond to the new demand or threat.
This is not always bad since there is a positive stress and a negative stress : Eutress (or positive stress) is when this defense of the body is a harmonious response with the demand received and does not cause any emotional or physical imbalance, but rather increases the energy and vitality in what we undertake.
Distress (or negative stress) is mental and physical fatigue or exhaustion of the individual that generates disorders in the body and whose causes are usually work or family problems, addictions, frustrations or illnesses.Post-traumatic stress is a type of negative stress, widely studied throughout the world.
Within negative or chronic stress there are two that are widely studied throughout the world: work stress and post- traumatic stress .
In work stress commonly called “burnout syndrome” (burn out) the causes are fatigue, physical and emotional exhaustion, vocational crisis and personal dissatisfaction that occur at work. The volume of tasks, feeling undervalued, deadlines, or a bad work environment are some of the situations that cause this type of stress.
Post – traumatic stress can arise after a person experiences a very serious or threatening event (an accident, a rape, the death of a loved one, a violent robbery or a kidnapping are some of an endless list) and then begins with the re-experiencing of the images of the lived event. If it lasts over time, it usually causes situations such as suffering from social phobia, having nightmares about the traumatic situation or not being able to continue with the usual routine due to fear.
Symptoms of stress
The symptoms of stress appear in the body as a cocktail of sensations, feelings and physical weaknesses. The most common symptoms are: anxiety , headache, anguish, irritability, fear, mood instability, lack of concentration, forgetfulness, repetitive thoughts, sudden reactions, sleep disorders, diarrhea or constipation, and changes in weight.
On some occasions, palpitations are felt, hands become cold for no apparent reason, and speech difficulties occur. Pre-existing addictions, such as tobacco or alcohol (just to name two well-known ones) are accentuated by stress. Weight changes are caused by stress-related poor eating habits, which often lead to a sedentary lifestyle. It is very important to keep in mind that when stress becomes chronic it can become a more complex disease . Cardiovascular problems, low back pain, fibromyalgia, depression, asthma, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, and sexual dysfunction are just some of the most common diseases that chronic stress leads to.
How to combat stress
These are some recommendations to combat the causes and consequences of chronic stress. Yoga and meditation are good options to combat stress.
- Self appraisal. When you feel very demanding in a situation, ask yourself how much of that load you can bear. Being aware of excessive demands is a good first step to better regulate them.
- Sleep well. Rest the time you need. No adult should sleep less than 8 hours a night.
- The good eating. Watch your diet. Do not “intoxicate” yourself with those foods that do not give you energy. Choose those that are rich in lithium and magnesium (cereals, eggs, vegetables, fish, nuts) and B vitamins (legumes, whole wheat bread or poultry).
- Physical activity. Have a routine: physical exercise is a source of nerve discharge and helps restore vital body functions that are deteriorated by stress.
- Diary. When you build your day, leave two or three spaces free, even if they are small. Find the moment to unplug and turn off the cell phone, the PC and get away from social networks for a while. You will return to activity with greater vitality.
- Ask for collaboration. For whatever. Exercise the ability to delegate and let yourself be helped.
- relaxation techniques. Yoga and meditation are well-known practices. There are also other ways to calm down and connect with yourself like reading a book or listening to music that you like.
- Emotional well-being. Take care of your feelings. Affective relationships, optimism, mental balance, are essential networks that provide support in our lives.