Many causes can cause stress, but stress does not have to be bad; there is also positive stress. In these circumstances, stress acts as a general process of adaptation of individuals to the environment. For example, stress can appear when someone is cold and tightens the muscles to produce heat, when there is an effort to do digestion, or when someone sleeps less to study.
Stress is essential for life. It made perfect sense thousands of years ago when human beings were hunting and they warned them of danger. Now the adversities are very different, and everyday or work situations lead us to activate that stress mechanism without needing our lives to be in danger. According to Víctor Pérez Solá, director of the Mental Health Service of the Hospital del Mar, in Barcelona, and researcher at Cibersam, “Intrinsically, it is not bad. If, for example, a person has to take an exam and does not have that level of alertness or stress, their performance will decrease. At the other extreme, if the level of stress and alertness is higher than what is tolerated, the person will be blocked.” So, a little “healthy” stress allows the person to perform better and be more decisive.
Therefore, stress serves as a stimulus in the face of important situations for the affected person, such as losing a loved one, economic bankruptcy, or a wedding. According to the Spanish Society for the Study of Stress and Anxiety (SEAS), stress manifests itself in a first phase of activation or preparation of the person in the face of this stimulus; then there is a period of maintenance of the state of high activity; and finally, when the situation has been overcome, it passes to a phase of exhaustion in the face of this stimulus.
To adapt to the demands or needs, we activate the stress process that allows us to adapt and manifests itself with reactions such as speeding up thinking, employing more energetic behavior, and increasing efficiency to overcome certain situations successfully. We can experience stress throughout the day without negative consequences; it can also help to boost self-esteem by managing to improve performance and overcome challenges and goals.
However, it becomes harmful when the energy or resources spent are not recovered. If this occurs, the body suffers significant wear and tear.Antonio Cano Vindel, president of SEAS, gives as an example the case of students: when the exam season begins, they sleep less than the body needs, suffering changes, such as cellular aging.
stress physical symptoms
Stress can cause a variety of physical, psychological, and emotional symptoms. Many times, those affected do not associate the symptoms with the stress itself; the most common are:
Headache: this is the most common type; everyone has had a headache at some point in their lives.The most common is tension headache (caused by muscle tension in the head, jaw, and neck, among other places), which is regularly caused by stress or anxiety.
Diarrhea (abundant watery, soft stools) or constipation (difficulty eliminating stools).
Lack of energy or concentration: people focus so intensely on one topic that it is difficult for them to pay attention to other things, resulting in a loss of concentration.
Anxiety and depression are examples of mental health issues.
When stress lasts for an extended period of time, it can cause cardiovascular and musculoskeletal problems.
Weight fluctuations: caused by poor eating habits linked to stress.A sedentary lifestyle usually accompanies appetite changes.
Constant and prolonged fatigue
Problems at the sexual level: the fatigue generated by stress can be prolonged, causing problems in many areas of life, including sex.
Stiffness in the jaw and neck, which can cause headaches
Insomnia or excessive sleep: difficulty falling asleep is a frequent cause of stress, affecting both the amount and quality of sleep.
Cellular wear and tear and aging: You can recover. ess wear process reversible withand make the str. If someone does not sleep continuously, they will be in continuous hyperactivity, and stressful events will accumulate. The affected person may have physical and mental health problems in these cases.
People frequently encounter situations that necessitate a greater investment of energy to solve successfully, but you do not have to unnecessarily exceed the limit by spending forces. You often have to stop and analyze the problem from another perspective and take other paths, if necessary. In addition, it helps to have greater self-confidence in solving setbacks with the least possible stress.
According to Cano Vindel, the demands generated by the situation are subjective; they depend on how the subject of stress values the possibilities and solutions and what affects their interests.The situation will be more or less stressful depending on the degree of assessment and the person who suffers from it.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), stress, in its normal phase, has two types:
Acute stress is a type of stress that is caused over a short period of time and usually disappears quickly. It is common worldwide; it appears when you live a new or exciting process or go through complicated situations, such as breakups. Given its short time, it does not usually cause major health problems.
The most common way to diagnose stress is through an expert examination.They will carry out one or more questionnaires that will allow them to identify the cases of patients suffering from stress. The “perceived stress scale” (designed to measure the degree of stress in specific life situations) is one of the most commonly used questionnaires.Others value stressful life events or the emotional consequences that people subjected to a lot of stress can present.
Cohen Kamarck and Mermelsteinen designed this scale. Initially, it consisted of fourteen questions, which had to be valued between zero and four, i.e., zero never and four always. The questions are:
How often have you been affected by something that has happened unexpectedly?
How often have you felt unable to control important things in your life?
How often have you felt nervous or stressed?
How often have you successfully handled life’s little irritating problems?
How often have you felt that you have effectively faced the important changes that have been happening in your life?
How often have you been sure about your ability to handle your personal problems?
How often have you felt that things were going well for you?
How often did you feel that you couldn’t face everything you had to do?
How often have you been able to control the difficulties in your life?
How often have you felt that you had everything under control?
How often have you been angry because the things that happened to you were out of your control?
How often have you thought about the things you still have to achieve?
How often have you been able to control how you spend your time?
How often have you felt that difficulties accumulate so much that you can’t overcome them?
Treatments: Experts recommend trying to reduce stress as much as possible. There are several useful recommendations to achieve it:
Recognize the stress and the situations that trigger it.
Avoid alleviating stress through unhealthy habits; they do more harm than benefits they are thought to generate. The usual habits that can cause damage to the body are overeating, smoking, drinking alcohol, or consuming other drugs.
There are many appropriate techniques to mitigate stress; some of them are:
Accept that certain things can’t be altered, even if you want to, and try to improve them by changing some things.
Get as far away as possible from the potential source of stress.
Exercise regularly to release tension.
Adopt a more positive stance on problems and complex situations.
Learn relaxation techniques, such as mindfulness, and perform activities such as yoga or pilates.
Learn to set limits if stress is caused by many tasks at work or in the family environment.
Maintain a healthy and balanced diet, such as the Mediterranean.
Post-traumatic stress occurs when the affected person has faced a traumatic situation in which something very important is at risk, including their own life or that of a loved one. Faced with that problem, an intense fear reaction arises, acting as a defence mechanism against threats and protecting us from danger. It can appear in the face of threats such as an assault or a violation.
After the fact, when the affected person sees something that reminds him of that trauma, he undergoes a re-experimentation: he remembers the situation clearly enough that it seems he is living it again, and then symptoms of fear appear.
Physiological responses are increased, such as increased heart rate or increased temperature, among others.
One of the consequences of this stress is mental dullness, making it difficult to perform everyday actions such as conversing or reading. The cause is a mixture of feelings of guilt or stronganxiety that alters cognitive processes.
You can become chronic when you don’t know how to handle the fear caused by trauma. Chronic fear causes significant wear and tear, eventually leading to post-traumatic stress disorder. This disorder does not usually end there: it usually leads to other disorders, such as depression.
To overcome post-traumatic stress, Cano Vindel recommends informing us of the consequences that the experience of that complicated situation can have, knowing the symptoms that may appear, and developing emotional management skills to overcome them successfully. Post-traumatic stress disorder can have positive consequences: the experience is imprinted in the amygdala (a subcortical brain structure that processes memory and emotions). The affected person learns and applies this in similar situations, remembering the risk he faces and adapting to succeed.
Working life in general has a series of psychosocial stressors that, sometimes, can cause emotional conflicts due to the existence of, for example, unreasonable demands or the inability to keep up with work.
Labor demands activate mechanisms, speed judgments, shorten action processes, and arrange ideas.
Performance and worker productivity improve
Stress and pain
The onset of chronic stress is also associated with pain. “Stress is a general activator. In its reactive form, it increases the pain threshold and prepares you for the fight. Chronic pain exhausts the body’s coping systems and decreases the pain threshold, making it more noticeable.
Pérez Solá says many pain management strategies incorporate stress management, such mindfulness or relaxation.