Stress, everyone heard about this word, read about it somewhere and may be experience it. Stress is a normal human reaction to a stressor and universal experience. It is a feeling of physical and emotional tension. Stress is a natural feeling happened when a person isn’t able to cope with the demands and events. It is a reaction of our body to any change that happened. Attending the collage has been recognized as the most stressful period of someone’s lifetime.
What is Stress?
There are so many definitions that explain the meaning of stress. But the simple one is that, “Stress is a state of tension arise when a person experience imbalance between demands and person’s resources to fulfill those demands. These demands may be come from your environment or sometime from inside of yourself.”
In this definition the focus point is “from inside of yourself.” This phrase helps us to believe that we can easily eliminate and control stress because it comes inside from us, if we are able to control the massages that come from inside of us. Stress can be real and sometime it is perceived threat. Not all the stress types are dangerous for us. Sometimes stress can be helpful for us.
Eustress: The good and positive stress called as Eustress and it help to boost confidence, increase performance and beneficial for our health.
Distress: The negative type of Distress that is extremely harmful for our mental as well as physical health. People who feel distress can’t performance their tasks properly, get overwhelmed and anxious.
Transactional Model of Stress
Transactional model of stress define stress in a very simple and understanding way. According to this model there are three key components that involves in stress.
- The situation and its demands
- Our subjective appraisal of the situation
- Our perceived resources for meeting the demands
The Situation and Its Demands
These situations or demands could include arguments, financial issues, changes in relationships, and changes in work or school circumstances, etc. These are Changes, events and hassles that occur in our internal or external environment and happen may be in a physical or psychological form. Moreover, they are also sometimes known as stressors.
Our Subjective Appraisal of the Situation
The appraisal of situation refers as how we interpret the situation and its demands. For example: an event happened and a person may be taking that event as a stressful situation but may be other person does not. So the person, who takes that event as a stressful situation, will probably have a reaction. This reaction may be either emotional or physiological.
Our Perceived Resources for Meeting the Demands
The resources meant to be our abilities to cope up with the situational demands and stressors. It refers to our abilities to deal with possible and real problem. As an example: there are two persons A and B. An event happened and both perceive that event as a stressful situation. Person A believes that he/she has ability or resource to cope with this situation but person B do not. So, they will react to stressful situation accordingly.
When Stress Happened?
Stress is a normal part of our lives. We feel stress specially when we move from one chapter of our life to another and changes start to happen in our life. Every single time you move from one step of life to another, it apparently a time for some adjustments that make you more stressed. Remember the first day of your intermediate school. However, it was exciting and new for you but still there was stress involved. The reason behind being stressful was because you need to learn how to survive in this new environment.
There are some transections of life when people feel stress the most.
- Childhood /Adolescence /Young adult
- Marriage, Pregnancy and Parenthood
- Middle age and Aging
- Injury and Death of a relative or loved one
- Moving to a new place
- Beginning or ending formal schooling
Stress and Our Body
It is a wonderful fact that our bodies are design uniquely to handle the stressful situation. It is design in a way to protect us from harm and danger. This is not a new phenomenon. Even our ancestors feel stress and it had helped them to survive in different situations. Even animals have this basic response of stress in their nature that helps them to cope up with predators. In 1930, Han Seyle and Walter Cannon use this term “fight or flight” to demonstrate that what happened to our body when we are in a stressful situation.
Fight or Flight Response
When we got engage in a threatening situation than this is our most basic and only survival instinct to ether fight or run for our lives. So, this is known as “fight or flight” response. This is an automatic physiological reaction to a frightening and stressful situation. When we perceive a situation threating our systematic nervous system activated. Then it produces an acute stress response that make our body prepared to fight for life or just run for life. These responses are very important and evolutionary adaptations and increase our chance of survival in any threating situation. If there is an inappropriate, intense and over frequent activation of fight and flight response can lead us toward a clinical condition such as anxiety disorders.
The fight and flight response is produced when and hormone is released in our body. It prepares us to either stay to deal with the situation or run away to safe our life. The systematic nervous system releases the adrenal gland that causes the release of Adrenaline. Adrenaline is the hormone that prepares our body for an attack.
A chain of reactions triggered in our body due to release of Adrenaline. Such as, our heart starts to beat faster so that blood can reach to muscles. Our blood pressure increased. Blood sugar released into the blood streams so that muscles get the energy that they need. Cortisol also released from Adrenal Cortex and provides burst of energy. It is also known as “Fight or Flight” hormone. Our sense of hearing and sight increased. In addition, the urine production and digestion slow down to divert the blood to more important areas such as, brain and Muscles. When the threat is gone it took 20 to 60 minutes to our body to returns to its normal state.
Side Effects of Fight or Flight Response
When a person has chronic stress its body stay alert in a “fight and Flight” response level. Even when there is no any danger and threat present. That put you in a risk that deteriorate your health and put you in severe health problems. Moreover, if you already have any health problem chronic stress makes it worse. It leads us to following health conditions:
- Persistent Headaches
- Asthma, Heart disease and Stroke
- Low back pain
- Upper respiratory infections
- Difficulties in thinking clearly
- Mental illnesses such as, Depression and Anxiety
- Developing eating disorder
- It leads to drug abuse or Addictive disorder
- Higher risk of suicide
- Diabetes and Obesity
- Menstrual problems
- Skin problems, such as eczema or acne
Signs of Stress
Every individual has their own personal reactions and signs of stress. You just have to learn how to identify yours. Generally there are four categories of these signs, Physical, emotional, cognitive and emotional.
- Rushing around
- Working for long hours
- Fatigue, tiredness
- Headaches, shaking or dizziness
- Frequent pains and aches
- Shoulder and back pains
- Sleep disturbances
- Changes in appetite, weight loss or gain
- Alcohol consumption
- Racing heart or increase heartbeat
- Cold and sweaty hands
- Shallow or erratic breath
- Digestive problems or upset tummy
- Bowel problems such as constipation and diarrhea
- Sexual problems
- Stiff neck or jaw
- Memory problems or forgetting things
- Difficulty in concentration
- Excessive worries and tension about little things.
- Difficulty in processing information
- Negative self-statements
- Increased irritability or anger
- Anxiety and feelings of panic
- Feelings of fearfulness
- Feelings of tearfulness
- Increased interpersonal conflicts
- Getting easily frustrated
- Poor self-care
- Have no time to do things you enjoy
- Relaying on alcohol or drugs to cope difficult situations
Sometimes these symptoms may be cause by other medical conditions. So, you have to learn that when these reactions are only stress symptoms or caused by other reasons.
How Can We Diagnose Stress?
Stress is a subjective response that is why it is not measurable with a test. Only the person can determine it whether it is present or not and it’s severity who experience it. A professional can only use questionnaires to understand your stress type and the effect of stress on your life. Psychologist or professional person only evaluate symptoms of your stress to measure if you have chronic stress or acute. Such as, high blood pressure can be measured and treated.
Causes of Stress
Every person has its own level of stress to a stressful situation. Sometimes, some situations are stressful for one person but not for other person. In human life almost every situation potentially causes stress. For some individuals just thinking about any trigging situation can cause stress and even small situations can cause stress. There are some common but major life situations that can trigger stress:
- Problem at work
- Financial problems
- Family problems
- Severe Illness
- Pregnancy loss or Abortion
- Driving in heavy traffic and fear of accident
- Fear of crime or police
- Problems with neighbours
- Pollution, excessive noise, and overcrowding
- Waiting for an important outcome or uncertainty
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