Episodic acute stress, Acute Stress, Chronic Stress all are common however proper knowledge and awareness to stress management is essential.
This book/article will guide you about stress, reasons of stress, how to control it and live with it.
When one is feeling like they have too many demands and too much pressure, losing sleep due to worries about the demands of life, not having time to sit down and eat due to the large amount of work that one needs to accomplish, this is a common problem that a lot of people face in the world. No matter the age of a person, everyone is faced with stress no matter the age of the person. This hence means that children, adults and even teenagers have different demands that make them prone to stress. In some cases stress can be good as in small doses, it can help people perform well under pressure and even motivate them to work their best.
In some cases, stress can be due to issues which threaten or challenges the well-being of people. This stress can either make the person do their best to get out of the situation, or they can be bad especially in cases where it leads to the mental and physical health of the person. Stress can also be part of how the person responds to the challenge since it both affects the physical state of the person and the physiological state of the person. Regarding how people respond to stress there is a fight-or-flight response where some people can either live to fight while others flee the situation that they are facing.
Stress is defined as the way one’s body responds to the various types of demands and threat that they may be facing in their day to day operations. Stress involves the mental and emotional strain and tension which a person faces when they are demanded of something that is beyond their capabilities and when they are in demanding circumstances. Stress involves the physical, mental and emotional strain due to either mental or physical tension caused by the various demands of life.
For stress to occur, there is an agent that causes it to occur. This agent is called a stressor. A stressor can either be chemical, biological, environmental condition or any other external stimulus and which eventually causes stress to a human being. Examples of stressors include such environmental factors such as overcrowding and increased temperatures, daily stress levels including traffic and high levels of activities, changes in life such as divorce or loss of loved one, workplace stress including high job demands, chemical stress including alcohol and drug abuse and social stressors including family demands.
Medically speaking, when one is stressed, there is an increase in the production of a hormone called adrenaline which affects the nervous system of the stressed person. The result of this is there is an increase in heartbeats and an increase in breathing, one can also experience an increase in sweating especially in their palms, and the person can feel their knees becoming shaky. In other cases the immune system of the person goes down, their digestive system slows down and the person does not want to sleep as their state of alertness goes up.
The main thing to know about stress is that if one can spot stress early, they can be able to manage it. In cases where the stress levels are extreme people are usually advised to consult a doctor as the stress levels may be in situations where it may have health implications for the affected individual. Given that stress usually means that the body is responding to the demands or threats that it is facing, the mechanisms that kick in are usually to defend the body. This is aimed at protecting the body as it may either ensure that one can stay focused in different situations, energetic or alert and while in emergency situations it is aimed at ensuring that one has the extra strength to save their lives and avoid situations which may harm them.
This is the most common type of stress which usually occurs when the body faces a new challenge, event or demand and it responds immediately. The body’s response is usually a flight-or-flight response. Due to the challenge, event or demand the body turns on its biological response to respond accordingly.
In some cases, acute stress is usually not unhealthy since it gives the body and the brain practice to develop the most efficient responses when in future they are faced with similar situations. Therefore, when the acute response occurs in isolation, it is not expected to have any negative effect on the body.
When the acute stress is severe, it can cause mental health problems including post-traumatic disorder and acute stress disorder. This is especially the case when one is faced with a life-threatening situation.
EPISODIC ACUTE STRESS
This is acute stress which occurs more frequently. This is especially the case for people who are always faced with a crisis and their bodies have to respond accordingly. Such people are usually short-tempered, anxious and are usually irritable.
Other people who usually have episodic acute stress are those people who are always pessimistic and in most cases tend to focus on the negative side of everything rather than focusing on the positive side of life.
For people who are faced episodic acute stress, they usually have persistent negative health effects. Mostly, these people have a hard time changing their lifestyle and hence accept stress as part of their lives.
This is acute stress which has lasted for a very long period because it is not resolved in the short term. In most cases, this stress is constant and does not go away at all, and it is caused by various life issues including poverty, dysfunctional families, unhappy marriages and bad jobs.
Various health issues are associated with chronic stress including heart diseases, cancer and lung diseases, liver cirrhosis, suicide, and accidents.
When one is stressed, they face various forms of disorder which involve excessive and inappropriate feelings of apprehension, uncertainty, and fear. There are various forms of anxiety disorders which include:
GENERALIZED ANXIETY DISORDER
This is the most common form of anxiety disorder which affects a lot of people in the world. People who are faced with GAD face state of worry and anxiety which is not within the proportion of the level of actual stress and threat in a person’s life. It occurs mostly on days of more than six months even when there are no specific stimuli that cause the stress.
There are various physical symptoms which are as a result of GAD which includes gastrointestinal complaints and when it exceeds limit it may result in mental issues. The main characteristics of people who suffer from GAD include being unsure of oneself, being too conforming and being a perfectionist.
Some of the conditions that must be present for a person to be diagnosed with GAD include being on edge and being very restless, always feeling tired, being irritated most of the times. Other conditions include when one has difficulties concentrating on various things that they are carrying out, having tensions in their muscles and experiencing disturbed sleep.
This is a form of disorder which is characterized by anxiety and terror attacks lasting for between 15-30 minutes and whose effects can persist for much longer than the 30 minutes. A diagnosis usually determines this. In most cases, panic attacks occur whenever one has anxiety disorders and not just panic disorders.
For an anxiety attack to be considered to be a panic attack, there are conditions which will have to be met including when one experiences two recurrent and unexpected panic attacks. Also, when one experiences attacks, a month after the panic attack they are usually worried that the attack will reoccur.
The main symptoms of a panic attack include rapid heartbeats, sweating, shakiness, and shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, numbness, chest pain, a fear of dying and a fear of going insane. When one is feeling unreal, this can be a sign and symptom of a panic attack. Hot flashes and chills can also characterize panic disorders.
Some of the symptoms of panic attacks are experienced by men while women experience the others. For women, some of the most common symptoms include shortness of breath, nausea, and feeling of smothering. For men, the main symptoms are sweating and abdominal pains. Panic attacks are usually frequent for different people meaning that for some people the attacks may be monthly while for others it may be weekly. Also, for the different people, panic attacks can be triggered by various factors.
These are some of the common types of anxiety disorder. It involves overwhelming and irrational fears. There are various phobias that different individuals experience over time to time. Also, the symptoms of phobia vary from one individual to another as for some people it can be mild and tolerable anxiety while for other people it can be full-blown panic attacks. When one is faced with phobia disorders, they tend to avoid such situations or objects that cause them to have the specific fears.
Phobias are usually classified into different types with agoraphobia being the most common fear which describes the fear of being in public places. The reason why people have such a phobia is that maybe they experienced panic disorders when they are in a place which has triggered past panic attacks. Social phobia involves having a fear of being embarrassed when one is in a social situation.
For most of other phobias that people experience, they are classified as specific because they are related to specific situations meaning that they are caused by experiencing a specific stimulus which one is not comfortable experiencing. When one experiences phobias, they usually experience various social and occupational performance issues.
Research has not yet been able to specifically point out what the cause of phobias is but genetic and environmental factors are thought to be some of the main causes of phobias. When phobias occur, peoples’ social life is ruined including their families since when a family member has a phobia other family members are usually vulnerable due to the condition.
There are various symptoms which are displayed by a person who has a phobia. These symptoms include anxiety and extreme fear when they are faced with the specific stimuli that they perceive to be a threat. Another symptom of a phobia is that the person experiences increased heart rates when they are faced with the specific situation that causes phobias. Also, the person may experience high blood pressure due to the panic caused by them being in situations which they consider to be a threat.
Another symptom of phobia disorder is shortness of breath, chest pains, and involuntary trembling when one experiences situations which according to them are a threat even though the person
usually is thought to have taken the situation or object out of proportion. When one is suffering from phobia disorder, another symptom they may display is churning stomach when they experience the stimuli that they are phobic towards. Other people may feel lightheaded or dizzy in such situations.
Symptoms of phobias can also be displayed through tingling sensations where one has hot and cold flashes. Such people are also afraid of going crazy and losing control of the situations which they are experiencing. In such situations, one usually knows that they are overreacting, but they cannot control their overreaction. Also in such situations, people usually feel like wanting to get away from such situations or as if they are going to die due to the experience they have in situations or in the presence of objects that they consider traumatizing.
One of the main challenges of the phobic disorder is the fact that it is not preventable. Some of the ways which can be used to treat the disorder are a behavioral therapy which helps one develop the level of comfort required when in situations which causes them to have anxiety and fear. There are medications which can help to relieve social phobia, and these can be used together with therapy to achieve the desired results.
This is an anxiety disorder where people usually have recurring thoughts, ideas and sensations which are unwanted which make them have the urge to do something repetitively. The unwanted thoughts, ideas, and sensations are called obsessions while the urge to do something repetitively is called compulsion. An example of the repetitive things that one may be obsessed to do includes washing hands, cleaning and checking things. When one repetitively carry out these activities, there are chances that it will affect the daily life of a person and the social interactions of a person.
When a person with OCD does not do the specific activities that they are obsessed with, a lot of distress is caused in their lives, and they cannot be able to do anything else until they carry out the routine activity. This makes it hard for people with OCD to focus on other things other than the activities or routines which they are obsessed with.
Obsession is defined as an unwanted and unpleasant urge, thought and image which from time to time enter the minds of an individual and hence causes them to be anxious, disgusted and unease. In most cases, the images, thoughts, and impulses are excessive and unrealistic, and this makes it hard for a person to use logic and reason to solve the thought, image, and impulse.
Compulsion is defined as the repetitive behavior and mental act that one carries out so that they can deal with the unpleasant feeling they feel when they do not carry it out. The main reason why one carries out these actions is so that they can prevent themselves and reduce the feeling of fear and distress that they feel whenever they do not act. In some cases, a person may carry out these activities for a whole day and hence affecting their day to day lives. Even though when one carries out these activities is relieved, the cycle repeats itself, and the person has to keep on repeating the same actions to satisfy their obsessions.
There are various types of compulsive behaviors which most people carry out include cleaning which they think is a way of reducing dirt and various chemicals together with germs which they fear will contaminate them. This makes people spend a lot of time cleaning and washing various items around them. Another behavior is ordering and rearranging where most people feel uncomfortable when various items are not in the correct order. This hence makes people spend a lot of time trying to order objects in a symmetric order so that they can feel comfortable. For some, repeating something is the way they use to stop being anxious. For some, they make keep mentioning one name over and over again for several times. This is because they fear that if they do not repeat these actions, they will face some form of harm.
For some people, OCD is displayed through keeping on checking as a way of making sure they do not face any harm in their actions. This is usually due to the fear of preventing a danger from occurring such as keeping on checking whether the gas is turned off as a way of protecting themselves from the dangers of an unturned gas stove. Other people face mental compulsions as a way of ensuring that intrusive thoughts do not enter their minds.
Some of the main causes of OCD include genetics where if a family member has OCD there are chances that one may face the same issues. Another cause of OCD is the fact that some people have differences in the activities of the brain at different sides of the brain with some areas having high activities while others have low activities. People who have experienced specific life events such as bullying and abuse have a high chance of experiencing OCD. For some people, OCD is a due to their personality which requires them to be neat, methodical and have a high standard which they need to maintain in all their activities.
To sort OCD, various ways can be used including psychological therapy which helps people to face their fears and obsessive thoughts without having to carry out the compulsive actions they usually carry out whenever they face such thoughts. There are medications which can also be used to help deal with OCD by altering the balance of one’s brain through the brain chemical.
POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER
When one faces a terrifying event, they may later face post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which is a mental condition that one experiences. This may be after someone either experiences or witnesses such a terrifying situation. Such events may include terror attacks, accidents, sudden deaths of a loved one, wars, violent personal assaults including rape and life-threatening events.
According to research, women have a high chance of experiencing PTSD as compared to men. Children can experience PTSD. When one is experiencing PTSD, there are various symptoms they may experience including disturbing thoughts, feelings and dreams which are related to events, physical distress and mental distress.
PTSD is because people have difficulties when adjusting and coping with the thought of dealing with a traumatic event. When the feeling is temporary, then it is not PTSD, but when it lasts for more than few months or even years, then it becomes PTSD. In some cases, the symptoms of PTSD starts one month after one experiences a traumatic event, but for some people, this may not occur until a few years after experiencing the event. When one experiences these symptoms, they may face issues dealing with their day to day life demands including their social and work issues and also relationship issues. This can also affect their ability to handle their day to day tasks that they are expected to handle.
There are four types of PTSD including intrusive memories which are characterized by recurring and unwanted memories about a traumatic event that one may have experienced in the past. Another symptom of this type of PTSD is the fact that one keeps on having flashbacks about the traumatic event thinking that it is happening again. For some people, this is characterized by upsetting dreams and nightmares about a traumatic event that one faced in the past. Other people face severe emotional distress which are reminders of the traumatic events that one went through.
Another type of PTSD is avoidance whose symptoms include the fact that people who experience traumatic events usually try to avoid thinking and talking about these events. Such people also try to avoid going to places and carrying out activities and interacting with people who remind them of the traumatic events which they experienced in the past.
Negative changes in thinking and mood is another form of PTSD which is characterized by people always thinking negatively about themselves and people or the world. This hence caused them to be hopeless about their future. Other people have memory issues which make it hard for them to remember traumatic events which they had experienced in the past. Due to the various experiences and negative thinking that people are facing, it makes it difficult to maintain close relationships and hence makes them feel detached from their families and friends. For such people, it is hard for them to have any interest in various activities which one once enjoyed and they have difficulties maintaining positive emotions in all these issues.
PTSD can also be displayed as changes in the physical and emotional reactions which is characterized by people being easily startled and frightened by things which are normally not frightening. Such people are also always on guard thinking that there is a chance that they will experience danger. This hence leads to most of them engaging in dangerous behaviors such as drinking and fast driving as a way of distracting themselves from the current situations. Some people also have difficulty in sleeping and concentrating and they are usually irritable, angry and have aggressive behaviors.
There are various causes of PTSD including having experienced stressful situations such as going through traumatic events in one’s life. Another cause of PTSD is mental issues that are a result of family history which leads to anxiety and depression. A person’s personality can also be a cause of PTSD. Finally, the way the brain regulates the chemicals and hormones in the body can be a cause of stress which leads to PTSD.
Various risk issues may cause PTSD including when one experiences traumatic issues for a very long time or when such traumatic issues are experienced in the early life of a child. People who are working in highly risky situations which expose them to trauma also increase the chances of PTSD. Another risk issue that may increase the risk of PTSD is mental issues which increase the chances of anxiety and depression. Drugs and alcohol misuse is another factor that increases the chances of PTSD. For some people, loneliness, where one lacks supporting family and friends, increases the chances of PTSD. For others having blood relatives who have mental issues exposes them to risks of anxiety and depression which hence increases the chances of PTSD.
Over time PTSD may become intense, and at this time it may turn out to be dangerous. This may lead to people having suicidal thoughts.
There are specific traumas which expose one to PTSD including exposure to combats, physical abuse during the early childhood lives of children when one experiences sexual violence at various ages, when one is physically assaulted, when one is threatened and when one is involved in an accident.
When people experience various traumatic situations for a very long time, there are chances that the PTSD they will experience is severe. Complex PTSD may take a long time before it portrays itself but the symptoms are usually the same as normal PTSD. There are specific traumatic events which can make one more prone to PTSD such as physical and sexual assault especially when such experiences occur in their childhood ages.
Some of the measures that have been used to treat PTSD include treatment where people are advised to seek medical attention especially within the first few weeks of PTSD experience. People with PTSD need a lot of support from their family and friends to ensure that they are not exposed to more stressful situations in their lives. This will allow a person to focus on recovery rather than deal with other stressful situations. Psychological treatment is another measure that can be used to treat PTSD even though there are medical options which are available and which can apply when the PTSD is too complex and severe.
SEPARATION ANXIETY DISORDER
When one faces separation from their homes or from people who they have a strong emotional attachment to, they usually face a lot of anxiety due to the new experience of living away from these conditions. This is especially the case for children and infants who are between the age of 6 months and three years. In some cases these conditions are experienced by older children, adolescents and even adults as this is part of the natural development of a human being.
Accordingly, separation disorder is defined as the excessive fear and distress that one faces when they are separated from their homes and from the people who they have a special attachment with. This leads to such people being uneasy and in some cases experiencing full-blown anxiety due to separation. Usually, this anxiety is over and above the anxiety which an individual experiences during the development levels of a child. Normally this lasts for 4-6 weeks in children and adolescent and 6 to more months in adults.
One common characteristic of people who face separation anxiety disorder is the fact that such people come from families that are close-knit which means that there is a major attachment among the family members. This means that when such people are separated from their families and friends, they start experiencing recurrent social withdrawal, apathy, sadness, and hence they find it difficult to concentrate on the various aspects of their lives. This eventually leads to such people starting having concerns that they are going to die. Due to poor concentration among people with separation disorder, school children usually experience academic difficulties and end up displaying social avoidance and eventually start displaying anger towards their peers.
One of the main symptoms of separation anxiety disorder is that a person has an unrealistic and a worry which lasts for long that something bad is going to happen to people who are close to him or her after they have separated from these people. In cases of a parent separation anxiety disorder, the parent may have an unrealistic and a long lasting worry that something bad is going to happen to their child when they leave the child with someone else.
For children who have been living with their caregivers for most of the time, they will usually refuse to go to school so that they can stay with the caregiver who they already have a good relationship with. Also, when they are sleeping the children may refuse to go to sleep if their caregivers or parents are not with them or when they are alone in the house. Majority of the people with separation anxiety disorder also refuse to stay alone as they become anxious and start worrying that something bad is going to happen to either people who are close to them or to them.
For some people, when they are away from their homes or from the people who are close to them some people may experience nightmares and bad dreams. This is due to the worry which is developed as a result of being away from their normal environment. Other people wet their beds due to the worry of being away.
For some, physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches are experienced when they are away from their homes or when they are away from their closed family and friends. For others, such situations lead them to having tempers and pleading to be taken back home or to their families and friends. It also makes people reluctant to sleep by making children insomniac due to fear of being alone and due to the nightmares that are as a result of the caused anxiety.
One of the main cause of separation anxiety disorder is having experienced a traumatic or stressful event during one’s child life. Such events include staying in hospital when young for a very long time, the death of a loved one or a loved pet and change in environment. Change in the environment may include moving to another house, moving from one location to another and changing schools.
For some children, anxiety disorder is because some parents are overprotective and hence when the children move away from their parents they suffer from anxiety disorder. Another cause of separation disorder is genetic and environmental vulnerabilities. When one has family members who have separation anxiety disorder, there are high chances that they will be prone to separation anxiety disorder when they are away from their family and friends or their home.
The main treatment method for separation anxiety disorder is counseling which is better as compared to medication. People with separation anxiety disorder can go through behavioral therapy, cognitive therapy, and individual psychotherapies. Parent counseling and guidance from teachers can help children remain calm when faced with separation anxiety disorder. Separation anxiety disorder can also be treated with various medications which have the necessary chemicals to help calm a person when they are in situations which cause them to be anxious. Education is very useful in ensuring that children can cope with anxiety caused by separation from their normal environment.
Parents should also ensure that they understand and listen to the feelings of their children and respect how they feel. They should create an open environment where children can share their feelings and be listened to so that they can deal with the anxiety caused by separation anxiety disorder. They should also be prepared to face transitions that can cause anxiety, especially in children. This includes preparing children on how they will adapt to going to school and to reducing meeting their friends and playing with them.
One of the main effects of separation anxiety disorder is the fact that it leads to other mental related health issues. Some of these health issues may include other forms of anxiety disorders.
SOME BACKGROUND RESEARCH
The word stress was first discovered in 1936 by Hans Selye who said that stress was the non-specific response due to various demands that one face for change in their normal lives. This was proven that by an experiment he carried out using laboratory animals to show that when they were exposed to different physical and emotional stress such as blaring light, deafening noise, extreme heat and cold and perpetual frustration there was a change of stomach ulcers, shrinking of lymphoid tissues and enlargement of the adrenals.
In the studies carried out by Hans, it was found that whenever the animals were exposed to persistent stress, they developed various diseases which were similar to human beings including heart attacks, stroke, kidney diseases and rheumatoid arthritis. Further research found that each of the diseases that the animals suffered from was due to different pathogens each of which causes the specific diseases.
Even though the original definition of stress was accurate in describing what stress means, a lot of misconceptions have been developed on what stress means. Some of the meanings of stress that were developed by people included the fact that it was a bad boss, an overbearing boss, or some bad situations which people were going through. Whenever people were facing chest pains, heartburn, and headaches as a result of this, then they thought they were stressed. For some whenever they did something over and over again, they thought that was the definition of stress.
The current world is filled with different situations that cause stress. These situations have ensured that in each form of interactions that human being have, either with their fellow human beings or the business environment they face situations which could potentially cause stress.
As more research was being carried out from time to time, there was a bit of confusion as physics had already developed a definition for stress before regarding how materials respond to compression and stretching by some external forces. The materials would later resume back to its original size and shape after experiencing elasticity from an external force.
Later the word stressor was developed because most people viewed stress as something that was both unpleasant and stressful. The word stressor was developed to distinguish between the stimulus that causes stress and the response to stress. This hence lead to the development of the perception that stress is something negative and the various positives that come out of stress were ignored. Hence, for stress to be considered fully defined there is need to consider both the positive and the negative aspects of stress.
To consider the positive aspect of stress and the negative aspect of stress, the diagram below shows how stress works in a human being:
An increase in stress at first results in increased productivity up to a certain point from where it starts going down. The point at which the optimal level of productivity is achieved from stress is not a constant point but a variable point which differs from one person to another. This means that every person needs to be sensitive to the early warnings which shows that one is stressed and the stress is overloading them to a point where it can push them downhill. The signs of when the stress can go downhill also differs from one person to another and hence it is hard to determine when one is going downhill from one person to another.
Later the definition of stress changed to mean that the rate of wear and tear on the body showing that stress leads to biological aging and hence when one is stressed the aging process can be accelerated hence becoming one of the effects of stress. Based on the further research carried out by Selye, stress is different for each person. For some people, stress involves shutting one’s eyes, and jaws clenched. For others, it involves yelling, relishing and going away.
Selye also stated that stress could be either food deprivation, injection of a substance that is foreign to the body and body workout. This hence means that other than stress being the negative response that the body has to respond to, stress also means the various responses which are non-specific that the body makes to the different demands. The understanding of these demands meant the need for the study of biological stress and what effects it has on the body which came in later years.
Research has found that there are more than 77% of people in the United States who are stressed and their stress is expressed through various physical symptoms. 73% of people in the United States have different psychological symptoms which show the presence of stress while 33% of people in the country feel that they are living a life that is extremely stressful. Majority of the people in the United States face stress due to money and work issues as the main causes of stress. This was represented by 76% of the total respondents.
48% of people in the United States have found stress to have a negative effect on their personal and professional lives. This includes 31% of the respondents who are adults that said that stress made them have difficulties managing their work and their family responsibilities. 35% of the respondents said that the main cause of stress was a job which was interfering with their personal lives. To determine the impact of stress, annually employers in the United States spend around $300B on stress-related healthcare to their employees.
Majority of human beings have different definitions of stress, and they have different conceptualizations of what matters when it comes to stress. This is also caused by the fact that we do not all have the same interpretation of the various situations that we face and hence situations that are normal for one person can prove stressful for another person. This also means that different human being uses different approaches to solve the challenges that they face in the various situations which may prove challenging to them. Also, given that different human beings possess different skills and they have different levels of resources, situations may be handled at different levels given the person, their skills levels and the resources that they have access to.
Based on the recent research that has been carried out about stress, it has been found that rather than just the common belief that stress leads to people behaving aggressively, women have been found to try and apply a tendency of “tend-and-befriend.” This means that they either tend to be protective and then they befriend. On the other end, men also do not show aggression, but they usually try to be more social when dealing with stressful situations. This means that for both men and women when they are stressed they tend to be more social which goes against the conventional belief that they tend to be more aggressive.
Research has also found that when stress is extended for a long period, it becomes dangerous for the health of the people who are affected. This is because stress affects both the mind and the body of human beings. This may lead to stressed people feeling fatigued, not able to concentrate on their day to day lives and it may lead to them being irritable for no reasons at all. For people who have other chronic illnesses such as chronic headaches, stress may mean that this may become worse. Studies have found that people who have such headaches can have this reduced in case they learn how to stop stress.
Whereas stress has been found to have adverse effects including heart attacks, chronic illness and various other mental and body effects one of the solutions that have been found to reduce stress is massage and vacations which help people to take a break from the situations that are stressing them.
In cases of chronic stress research has found that there are various antidepressants which can be used to ensure that the levels of stress are reduced by ensuring that the brain is protected from the various effects of stress which if left unattended may lead to various disorders such as anxiety and depression. Stress has been found to be one of the contributing factors to mental decline and diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia. This hence means that in the long run continued stress may lead to long-term physiological and psychological consequences which may affect the health of the affected person.
WHY IS THE TOPIC IMPORTANT IN CURRENT WORLD?
With the various demands of life and the various events that cause stress is on the rise, the rates of stress have been increasing in the recent past. Various situations can cause stress including the death of a close person, divorce, imprisonment, injuries and illnesses, job loss and retirement. These are all situations that have been on the rise in the recent past and hence the rate of stress as a result of these situations has been on the rise. Also, given the fact that the rate of stress has been on the rise, there is a need for everyone to be educated and informed of their stress levels so that they can know how to deal with such stress.
With technology on the rise, there have been cases of people being separated from their families and friends and hence not having people around them to help them deal with stress. This is because when one has such people around, it becomes easy for them to deal with stress. This situation means that people are becoming more stressed due to the different life situations and lack of the family and friends support that is required to deal with this.
Another reason why this topic is important is the fact that as human beings evolve, the majority of them lose a sense of control which would otherwise help them. This has been the case in the modern world where the majority of people have lost a sense of control which means that when faced with stressful situations they are not able to control these situations and hence end up facing the various effects of stress.
Given that business organizations need to create a conducive work environment, the study of stress management is important in ensuring that organizations come with the best ways to manage stress among employees. When employees can manage stress, they can be able to handle the different work situations which may be a source of stress. Overall this helps in ensuring that a positive work environment is created.
The study of stress helps in understanding the various forms of stress and how they affect the physical health of individuals, the emotional wellbeing of people and the various actions that people take due to stress. It also helps in understanding the various factors that cause stress together with the various measures that people in the different environments have taken to deal with stress.
All these situations show that stress rates in the modern world have gone up and hence there is a need for this research so that the concept of stress can be understood, the reasons why stress occurs can also be understood and the various types of stress. Also, the study will be important in helping understand the symptoms of stress and the various solutions that can be used to ensure that those facing stress are helped to go back to normal situations. This will also help in ensuring that people can gain the necessary skills to control stressful situations and deal with stress when it arises.
When the concept of stress was first conceived, it was mostly focused on the physical aspect of stress effects rather than all the other aspects also. When further research was carried out on animals to see what effects the animals experienced when they were faced with various stressful situations. This provided a foundation where the study of the biological effects of stress can be studied by understanding how stress affects the body and the various remedies which can be used to control this.
SOURCES OF STRESS: WHERE IS IT COMING FROM?
There are various sources of stress which a person goes through in various aspects of their lives. The normal life of a person is filled with various situations which stress a human being which may either impact their lives positively or negatively. In the day to day lives of a human being, stress usually comes from either work, relationships or normal social life.
Some of the main causes of stress include having an unhappy job, having a heavy workload at work, and working long hours. When one has poor management, have unclear expectations at work, and they have no say in the decision-making process, they may potentially face stressful situations. When the work environment is dangerous, one faces potentially stressful situations. When one is insecure about their work or when they feel they are close to being terminated then they may be stressed. Some people are stressed because they are expected to give speeches in front of their colleagues and being discriminated and harassed in their workplace.
In the day to day life, some of the sources of stress include the death of loved ones, divorces, loss of a job, increase in the financial obligations of an individual and chronic illnesses and injuries. Another source of stress is marriage, emotional challenges that one may face due to their personality and their day to day life, being left with the responsibility of taking care of sick people or the elderly in the family and having gone through traumatic events.
TYPES OF STRESSORS INTERNAL SOURCES OF STRESS AND ANXIETY
Internal stress is stress that comes from the inside of the human body and which determines whether the human body can respond and deal with stress that is caused by various external factors. This type of stress is usually due to personal goals that one has set, the expectations of a person, standards that one has set for themselves, human perceptions and the desires that one has. All these factors come from within the human body as one has different perceptions of where their life is as compared to when they desire their lives to be.
For example, people who have pessimistic behaviors usually have a very hard time dealing with stress that is caused by external factors. This is one example of internal stress which makes one over exaggerate simple things that are affecting their normal lives like meetings which are lasting normal can be seen to take too much time, and a person can see this as a factor that is affecting their normal lives in a much significant way than it is.
In most cases internal pressure is self-induced. This is because in most cases this involves people setting themselves specific standards and desires that they must meet at all the times and when they fail to meet them it starts to stress them, and they become anxious. For example, a person can say that no matter what they will never be late for a meeting or an appointment. This means that whenever they are late, even when this is caused by a factor that is beyond their control they become stressed and anxious as they have already set for themselves a standard of never being late. This is usually caused by the pressure of being late which makes it stressful as they get late. In some people, this may be the case even for non-essential meetings in which even if they are late there are no consequences.
People who are not able to cope with various situations can also have stress that is caused by their inability to control and deal with different situations that they deal with. This is because when they are not able to deal with simple issues that may affect operations in specific functions, they may not be able to deal with an effect on such operations even when such an effect is caused by a factor that is beyond their control. This for example means that if they are expected to finish a task within a specific timeline, and there is a budgetary issue that affects the delivery of resources to carry out the task on time, such people may become stressed and anxious even when all the other members of a team have been able to deal with such an issue. This is because such people are not able to cope with such situations that may move them from the normal operations.
COGNITIVE ASPECTS OF STRESS AND ANXIETY
Cognition is defined as the process of processing information from the outside environment with the aim of increasing their strength to adapt to the environment and hence increasing chances of success. Using experience, thought and sense one can understand the acquired knowledge from the surrounding environment. Some of the processes that help to make cognition complete include knowledge, attention, memory, and judgment to evaluate and reason and then make decisions for improved productivity. It uses both the knowledge that one has acquired over time and the new knowledge that one acquires.
Anxiety is how people respond to unpredictable threats which include their physiological and cognitive changes that occur to a person as they respond to various threats that they may face in their day to day lives. Anxiety can either occur as fear, or it can occur as similarity to various situations that one may be facing. To survive in situations that one is not familiar with or uncertain environments, it has been found that majority of the people usually to maintain some form of vigilance and readiness for any action so that they can survive in such situations.
One of the effects of stress has been found to be the interference with the capacity of a person to encode memory, and also it interferes with their ability to retrieve information from their memory. When one is stressed, and their body releases stress hormones into the bloodstreams, certain areas of a person’s brain are damaged. When this hormone is over-secreted, a person’s memory may be impaired and hence leading to loss of their ability to retrieve information from this memory.
Stress also affects cognitive functions of the brain as it can either be intrinsic or extrinsic. When the stress levels are intrinsic, it means that the stress has been triggered by a cognitive challenge whereas if the stress is extrinsic, it means that the stress has been triggered by a condition which is not related to any cognitive function. When the stress levels are too high, the structure of a person’s brain can be affected and also their cognition can be affected by these levels of stress.
When one is stressed, another cognitive effect is poor concentration. When one is stressed they may not be able to concentrate on the various tasks, they are carrying out for a long time, and hence this may make them indecisive hence affecting various aspects of their lives including communication with peers and strained relationships. Given that one’s mind is not focused on one thing when they are stressed, a person may seem preoccupied with a lot of things which ends up affecting their concentration. Having a lot of things in their mind means that they may not have the capacity to hold a lot of things in their mind and hence cases of forgetfulness increases.
Another cognitive effect of stress is poor judgment. This is usually as a result of various memory, concentration and preoccupation issues which usually means that a stressed person usually tends to make their judgment based on poor memory and their inability to concentrate on one thing. This hence affects the accuracy of their judgment. Given the anxiety caused by stress, one usually overthinks a lot of small things and hence may make decisions based on thoughts which may not necessarily be true. This makes the judgment to be based on a lie and hence affects the final judgment that is made.
Stress also makes a person to only focus on the negative in every aspect of their life. This means that even in situations where things are working out, stress means that if when things are working out right, the mind tends to focus on the negative side of issues rather than focus on the fact that things will work out. Even when a person in control of a situation, the anxiety caused by stress makes them think that they are not in control and think that things are not going to work out well.
Due to the anxiety that is caused by stress one may end up being restless. Restlessness is due to the worry that one has and the lack of concentration that is as a result of stress and the resulting anxiety. This may also lead to a person having mood swings which means that at one time they may appear happy while the next moment they may appear unhappy. This may also result in restlessness and impatient which makes a person not wait for things and which makes one feel like things are not moving at the pace which they may wish them to be moving at. Emotional outbursts may then result because one is emotionally unstable and one's emotions can be triggered by very small issues which in normal situations may not be expected to cause emotional distress and outbursts.
When one is anxious, is restless and has emotional outbursts, their sleeping patterns change as they are not able to concentrate on one thing. This ends up making them usually sleep less and hence the fatigue may end up affecting their productivity in the long run as they are not able to replenish their energy from time to time. The effect on their eating habits is also the same, and this may mean that a person is not able to have a good meal for a long time and hence their energy levels are also affected and their productivity.
When not properly treated, anxious thoughts can be debilitating. The main reason why one can have anxious thoughts are mainly as a result of fear and stress which may be caused by various reasons. When one has anxious thoughts, it becomes hard for them to have a clear mind and this hence affects their ability to make cognitive and rational decisions. In most cases, anxious thoughts are a problem since they lead to people thinking about what ifs and thinking mostly about worst cases scenarios.
The main cause of anxious thoughts is negative thinking. This hence leads to most people acting illogically and unreasonably. In some cases when people are having anxious thoughts, they may find themselves knowingly acting irrationally, but at the same time, they are not in control of their thoughts. When one is anxious, they feel as if there are things they cannot control and they have fear which in actual reality may mostly not exist or sometimes worry about things that they should not worry about.
One of the main causes of anxious thoughts is issues to do with personal life which is also main causes of stress. These issues include relationships, career issues, reputation, love life and financial security. When one is facing anxious thoughts, it is usually for the person to have an idea of whether these thoughts are accurate or they are not accurate, and hence one cannot trust to act on these thoughts. Anxious thoughts can still affect people even when those around them assure them that it does not mean anything at all.
The main cause of anxious thoughts is stress. This makes the body to respond accordingly leading to physiological, psychological and emotional changes and hence affecting the ability of a person to deal with threats or stressing situations. It also affects the person’s ability to focus on specific situations and hence may lead to them having situations of emotional distress.
To deal with anxious thoughts, one needs to come up with ways of calming their body down. This can also be achieved by dealing with the stressful situations that one was going through which means that situations that lead one to have anxious thoughts.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I AM STRESSED?
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF STRESS OVERLOAD
EFFECTS OF STRESS
Stress can have both negative and positive effects on the body of a stressed person. When one is faced with small doses of stress, it may spur them by giving them the necessary energy that is required to deal with the various challenging situations or threats that they may be facing. This hence means that small doses of stress can help one health wise as it makes one have the strength and the energy to deal with serious situations which they may be facing. Physically stress ensures that the body releases the necessary hormones which ensure that the breathing rates and the heart rates are increase hence readying the body muscles to respond accordingly based on the threat that one may be facing.
Small doses of stress can also help in the improvement of the immune system. This ensures that the body is well prepared to fight the various diseases which one may be exposed to. This hence helps the body to avoid infections and to make sure that when one has wounds, they can heal faster.
BEHAVIOURAL EFFECTS OF STRESS
Stress can have various negative effects which may either be physical, cognitive, emotional and behavioral. Some of the behavioral effects of stress include decrease contact with family and friends as most people prefer to spend their time alone when they are facing stressful situations.
This is mainly due to the anxiety that they are facing and the emotional instability that they are facing.
Another behavioral effect of stress is poor work relations which is because people are always moody and emotionally unstable and hence cannot be able to create positive relationships with their workmates. It also means that because people have poor concentration levels, their work productivity goes down and hence their relationships with their employers are affected and hence the poor work relationships. This also affects personal relationships, and in cases of love relationships and marriages, it may lead to decrease in sexual activities and drive among the partners. This is usually because stressed people are not able to cope with people around them.
When one is stressed, they end up being anxious, unstable and unrelaxed. This means that they are always on the move and hence lack time to relax and carry out various other activities including their hobbies. Lack of relaxation mean that they are mentally unstable and fatigued and hence their productivity is affected.
Stressed people tend to have a loss of sense of humor. This is because their minds are usually engaged in other things that are frustrating them, and hence they tend to miss various humorous situations which they experience. This is also caused by the fact that when stressed, people usually have a lot of negative thoughts which makes them not focus on the positive aspects of life.
Stress may lead to people losing their body weight due to loss of appetite and anorexia. In other cases, stress may cause some people to overeat and hence leading to them gaining weight. This is because some people are too emotionally unstable to think about eating while other see food as a way of distracting themselves from the various emotional challenges that they are experiencing.
Other aspects of the behaviors of people that are affected include the social aspects of life which include communication aspects, relationship aspects and drugs abuse aspects. For some people, stress may lead them to engage in alcohol and drugs abuse which they may use as a way of trying to forget the various emotional issues that they are facing. When people are using alcohol and drugs as a way of dealing with stress, this is usually a temporary measure which does not work in the long term as after the effects of drugs wear off they go back to the life that they were living and remember the various challenges that they were facing. In the long run, drugs and alcohol abuse eventually, lead to both physical and mental health issues for the stressed people.
In some cases, people start picking up some behaviors and physical habits including picking fingernails, nervous tics and pacing up and down. These are usually ways of distracting oneself from the stressful situations that they are facing or as ways of trying to calm down so that they can be able to deal with the threatening or challenging situations that they may be facing. In most cases, when the stressed people are taking up these habits they may not be aware of the habits, but people around them usually notice these behaviors.
Another behavioral effect of stress is that people may change their punctuality levels and their interest in various activities. The lack of interest may be because stressed people tend to be lonely. Impulsiveness is another behavior that one takes up when they are stressed. These include impulse buying, gambling, engagement in too much sexual behaviors and various other behaviors as a way of trying to distract themselves from the stressing situations that they are experiencing.
When the various behavioral effects of stress are experienced for a long time, they lead to various health issues which may include lifestyle diseases and various other chronic illnesses.
PHYSICAL EFFECTS OF STRESS
One of the main physical effects of stress and anxiety is the fact that it leads to headaches. This is usually due to the effect that stress has on the brain of a human being and the muscle tensions that are caused by stress. For some people who have faced stress for a long time, chronic headaches are one of the effects that they face. People may also face other physical symptoms like lack of sleep as they spend too much time worrying about issues, having emotional distress and having mental instabilities. When this occurs, one does not concentrate enough to sleep. When people do not get enough sleep, they can then suffer from various other after effects, and in extreme cases, it can even cause death.
Low energy is another effect that is caused by stress. This is as a result of various issues such as that people do not eat enough and hence they are not able to gain enough energy to carry out various tasks. In other cases, people do not sleep enough and hence end up being too fatigued to carry out various tasks. This also affects their energy levels, and they end up too tired.
Stress can also lead to various illnesses such as stomach upset, diarrhea, constipation, and nausea. All these are due to the effect that stress has on the normal bodily functioning, and hence the digestion system is affected. In the long run, people who are always stressed usually suffer from different types of stomach ulcers which in the long run can even lead to cancer and eventually death.
Aches, pains, and tense muscles are the other physical effects that people suffer from as a result of the release of different types of hormones which affect the functioning of the muscular structure of the body. When these hormones are released due to stress, the muscles are affected and hence the muscular pain, aches, and tension. The reason why this is the case is that when one is under stress, their muscles tend to tense up with the aim of protecting themselves from injuries.
Another effect of stress is heart diseases. This has especially been the case in the recent past where a lot of people are facing stressful situations, and this can affect the cardiovascular system. The after effect of this is high blood pressure, stroke and heart attacks. The respiratory system is also affected by stress as various forms of stress hormones affect the system leading to a person breathing faster so that they can distribute blood faster to their bodies. This hence means that if people have pre-existing respiratory issues, stress can even make these conditions worse.
Other diseases that have been caused by long-term stress is cancer. There are various types of cancer which are caused as a result of stress due to hormonal effect and release of various chemicals in the body.
For some people when they are stressed their bodies tend to tremble, and they experience tremors. As a result, this can mean that they cannot control their bodily motions and in effect, this can prevent their bodily functioning. Also, some people may experience extra sweating due to stress, and this can be specialized to specific parts of the body. Some of the body areas which may be affected include the hands and the feet. For some people, stress can cause them to have dry mouth and have problems when trying to swallow food. This is usually because they do not have control over their muscular systems and hence the muscles fail to respond as expected.
Stress has also been found to cause rashes, itches, hives, and goosebumps. Other people can experience allergy attacks as the body does not respond to the various foreign agents which they are exposed to. These allergy attacks usually occur frequently, and it is hard to explain their source.
For women, stress has been found to affect the menstrual cycle. This can occur in various ways. For example, some women may experience irregular menstrual cycles due to high levels of stress while in other women they may experience a total absence of menstrual cycles due to stress. In other women, stress may cause their menstruation to be more painful. Finally, in other women stress may lead to changes in the length of the cycles.
Another effect of stress on women is changing in premenstrual syndrome (PMS). In some cases, stress may cause premenstrual syndrome worse or more difficult for them to cope with and stressful for the women. Some of the effects that women may face due to stress include cramping, fluid retention and bloating, a negative mood which includes feeling irritable and mood swings as a result of stress.
For women who are in their menopause, stress may cause the various symptoms of menopause worse. This may include making them hard to cope with and making women experience more anxiety and increased number of hot flashes as compared to how they normally experience when they are not stressed.
In some cases, for men continued stress may lead to premature ejaculation and lack of sexual pressure. This is because stress leads to various mental instabilities which may lead to a person not having good control over their sexual capabilities.
For both genders, stress can cause an acceleration in their aging. This is a situation where a young person seems older than they are due to the effect of stress on their hormonal imbalance which eventually leads to aging of the skin to seem older than one is. The various other body parts also seem older.
EMOTIONAL EFFECTS OF STRESS
There are various emotional effects which one experiences due to stress. One of the main emotional effects of stress is low esteem, loneliness, worthlessness, and depression. All these are because one does not feel their worth and this means that they will usually have low self-esteem. When this is experienced for a long time, it means that one can easily become depressed which may lead eventually to various physical infections.
When one is facing stressing situations, it may lead to them easily becoming agitated, frustrated and in other cases moody. All these are due to the cognitive effects of depression which leads to an unstable emotional state and change in moods.
It has also been found that when some people are faced with stress, they tend to overreact, become easily frustrated and lack purpose of life. All these are because behaviorally stressed people have lacked the mental stability to deal with stressful situations.
Another emotional effect of stress is difficult in making decisions. When people are stressed, they tend to over-hype things, and in some cases, most of the thoughts that they have may end up being false. When they use such thoughts to make decisions, they end up making wrong decisions which may in effect affect the actions that they take.
Stressed people tend to feel overwhelmed by various situations which they face in life including their work, academics, family problems, and relationships. This makes them find it hard to relax or switch off from these challenges hence making them feel like they have a lot of burdens that they are carrying in life. When such issues are kept inside for a long time, they may end up experiencing health problems since they do not get time to relax and have some happy moments.
Stressed people usually feel like they are missing out on various things and that they cannot act quickly to achieve this. This is due to the emotional instability that they experience and the worry that they are not in control of the various situations that they experience in life. This also makes it hard for them to focus on the various tasks that they may be expected to handle hence affecting their productivity. Eventually, this makes them feel like there is something bad that is going to happen.
When dealing with even small problems, stressed people usually feel cranky, and they are unable to deal with such situations. The state of their mind makes it hard for them to focus on the small issues and hence solve them. Eventually, the frustrations caused by such a situation makes them cranky.
50 COMMON SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF STRESS
There are various signs and symptoms which may show that one is stressed. These signs and symptoms are either emotional, physical, cognitive or behavioral. 50 common signs and symptoms show that one is stressed. These are:
A. Some people experience headaches, clench their jaws and experience pain in their bodies.
B. When people are faced with stress, some may stammer and stutter.
C. Another sign of stress is gritting and grinding of teeth.
D. Tremors, trembling lips, and trembling hands is another sign of stress
E. When stressed some people experience neck aches, back pains, and muscle spasms.
F. For some people, lightheadedness, faintness, and dizziness may a sign of stress
G. Rigging, buzzing and popping sound is another sign of stress.
H. Another sign and symptom of stress are blushing and sweating which may occur frequently.
I. Cold and sweaty hands and feet is another sign of stress.
J. For some people difficulty when swallowing and dry mouth is a sign of stress
K. Rashes, itching, hives, and goosebumps is another sign of stress
L. For some people, they experience unexplained and frequent allergy attacks as a sign that they are stressed.
M. Heartburns, stomach pains, and nausea is another sign of stress
N. Excessive belching and flatulence is another sign of stress
O. Constipation and diarrhea can also represent stress.
P. Difficulty in breathing and sighing is another sign of stress
Q. Stress can also be presented through sudden panic attacks which are unexplained.
R. Chest pains and palpitations is another sign of stress
S. Frequent urination can be due to stress
T. Poor sexual desire and performance may mean that one is stressed
U. Another sign of stress is excess anxiety, worry, guilt, and nervousness.
V. Stress can also be represented by increased anger, frustrations and hostility towards other people.
W. Depression, frequent and wild mood swings are usually as a result of stress
X. Increased or stress can cause decreased appetite
Y. Insomnia, nightmares and disturbing dreams can be due to stress
Z. Difficulty in concentration and racing thoughts are usually a sign that one is stressed
AA. Trouble learning new information is another sign and symptom that is stressed
BB. Forgetfulness, disorganization, and confusion usually comes as a result of stress
CC. Another symptom of stress is difficult in making decisions
DD. Feeling overloaded and overwhelmed is another sign of stress
EE. Suicidal thoughts and frequent crying are other ways that show that one is stressed
FF. When one is feeling lonely and worthless, it may show that they are stressed
GG. When people are stressed, they have little interest in how they appear and issues like punctuality
HH. Usually, stressed people have nervous habits, fidgeting and feet tapping.
II. Increased frustration, irritability and edginess are usually as a result of stress
JJ. When one overreact to petty annoyances, it may show that they are stressed
KK. Another sign of stress is increased number of minor accidents that one is involved in.
LL. Obsessive and compulsive behaviors are usually due to stress
MM. When people are stressed, there is a reduction in their efficiency and productivity
NN. To cover up poorly done work, most people lie and give excuses
OO. Rapid and mumbled speech is a sign of stress
PP. Excessive defensiveness and suspiciousness is usually as a result of stress
QQ. Stress can also be displayed through difficulties in communication and sharing of various situations that one is facing through
RR. Social withdraw and isolation is another sign and symptom of stress
SS. Constant tiredness, weakness, and fatigue is another sign that shows that one is stressed
TT. Frequent use of the un-prescribed over-the-counter drugs is another sign that one is stressed
UU. Another sign that one is stressed can either be weight gain or loss without diet
VV. Increased smoking, drug, and alcohol use is another sign that one is stressed
WW. Stress can also be represented by one excessively engaging in gambling and impulse buying.
XX. Finally, frequent colds, infections and herpes sores is another symptom of stress
There are various stress management techniques which can be used to ensure that people going through various stressing situations can deal with the stress and be able to deal with the different challenges and life demands which one faces in their day to day lives. The best way to deal with stress is to ensure that one is relaxed in the different situations that they face and one can be able to distract themselves a bit so that they do not overthink of becoming anxious when faced with challenges and demands of life.
STRESSOR'S YOU MAY NEED TO ACCEPT
There are various sources of stress that one face in their day to day lives. Most of these sources of stress are usually unavoidable and hence it is hard to prevent such stressors from taking their course and causing stress. Such stressors include the death of a loved one, serious illness, and economic recession. All these stressors are situations that one cannot be able to control and hence there is a need for one to accept things as they are even though it may be difficult to do. In the long run, it becomes easy for people to accept things as they are rather than being too stressed about the situations.
Given that these situations are usually uncontrollable, it is advisable that when faced with situations that one has no control over they should focus on things that they can control and avoid such situations. This helps in ensuring that one avoids situations that are otherwise stressful and that can turn out to be problematic to use that energy to deal with various situations that are within their control.
For some stressors, it is advisable that when one is facing such situations, they should take that as opportunities for personal growth which can help them become better persons and prepare them to deal well with such situations when they occur again in future.
Given that the world has a lot of imperfections which can act as stressors, there is a need for people to learn to forgive. This means that the resentment and the anger that is caused by these stressors should be let go and one should focus on getting rid of the associated negative energy and focus on the positive aspects of life.
When faced with situations that prove to be demanding and challenging in life, it is usually advisable that one should learn how to share their feelings with close family and friends. This should be done with trusted friends and family members.
STRESSORS YOU MAY NEED TO AVOID
There are stressors which are one cannot be able to solve, it is advised that one should avoid them. This involves learning how to say no by knowing one’s limits and then sticking to that. This applies to both the personal and professional life. One should be able to ensure that they should focus on what is within their capabilities and avoid issues that are not within their strengths and capabilities.
In some situations, stressors are people around you who cause situations that bring about stress in one’s life. This means that to avoid them one should avoid such people in their lives and spend more time with people who bring positivity and joy in their lives. This includes when one is in relationships also family members who are sources of stress in other peoples’ lives.
The environment where one lives in may also be a source of stress. This may include the information that one has access to in such an environment together with the various agents that one relates to the environment. To avoid stress, it is advised that one should try and take control of such an environment. For example, if the source of stress is the news that is broadcasted by the media, one should try to avoid such news by turning off the TV. Other situations may be how the environment looks like. One should try and avoid such an environment.
Stress can also be caused by demands of life which may result from disorganization in one’s life. To avoid stress caused by such situations, one should try and come up with a plan of the tasks and responsibilities that one faces in their day to day lives. This helps in determining whether one has too much work that they are expected to handle and hence allows them a chance to delegate such tasks with other people so that they can only focus on what is within their capabilities. MINDFULNESS: WHAT IS IT?
Mindfulness involves being able to focus individual awareness on the current moment and acknowledging and accepting what one is feeling, the kind of thoughts they are having and the various sensations that one is experiencing. This ensures that one can be able to focus their attention on the present moment and the various internal processes that are happening at the moment. In some religions, mindfulness is very important as it is considered as a way of spiritual enlightenment and a cessation of the various sufferings that one may be going through.
When one is mindful, they can stop and pay attention to the present moments and the focus their thoughts and feelings to what is happening in the present moment. This is very important in helping them improve their mental wellbeing. It also ensures that people can enjoy life and have a better understanding of themselves. This is achieved through having a better understanding of one’s inside and outside, moment by moment and reconnecting with one’s body and the various sensations that one experiences over time.
The appreciation of the current moment involves an appreciation of the sights, sounds, smell and the tastes of the present moment. From moment to moment, this also involves appreciation and awareness of what one is thinking and what one is feeling as it happens and understanding the transition from one feeling and from one thought to another. This is very important in ensuring a healthy population and wellbeing. This can then be applied in the workplace, schools and the various environments which are high-pressure points.
Psychologically mindfulness is usually the opposite of avoidance of the various emotions that one may be experiencing from time to time as it helps one to acknowledge, understand and appreciate what is happening and ensure that one is not over engaged in the emotions of what is currently happening in their lives. This hence helps one develop wisdom and knowledge on how to deal with various life situations as they arise. This also helps in the improvement of one’s capacity to pay attention in a particular way and ensure that one’s attention is focused on the present making one live on a moment-to-moment basis.
To have a good understanding of the moment-to-moment expectations that is expected when one is being mindful, there is need to have various forms of aggregates which includes a material form which is the physical body and the external form in which the material elements in continuous interaction with the material body. The feelings is another aggregate that should be appreciated as they can be in different forms since one can have pleasant feelings, unpleasant feelings or they can have neutral feelings. Perceptions are also very useful in helping one gain awareness of what is surrounding them and the different attributes of the objects that surround them. Volition is another aggregator that one has to consider as it helps in understanding the verbal, bodily and the psychological behaviors of a person or the various aspects of the surrounding environment. The sensory consciousness ensures that one can use the five senses, seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching to interact with the surrounding environment.
DO SOME MINDFULNESS EXERCISE
To ensure that one improves the level of mindfulness that the exercise from day to day it is important to do mindfulness exercise from time to time as a way of ensuring that it becomes part of one’s life. This helps in ensuring that one has a good understanding of what is happening around them and that they do not overreact or become overwhelmed by the events in the surrounding environment. There are various mindfulness exercises that one can carry out from time to time when they find themselves being worried or overwhelmed about the thoughts of the past, future or the happenings in the present environment.
One of the most common mindfulness exercise that one can practice is trying to come back from the worries about the future or guilt and regrets of past actions. This involves just noticing what is happening in one’s mind and then trying to focus and remaining calm by convincing oneself that whatever one is doing is the right thing.
Another exercise that one can practice is the three senses trick which involves just using the three key senses; sound sight and touch and simply noticing what one is experiencing right now using these senses and then trying to understand what are the three things one can hear in their current environment, what are the three things that one can see in their surrounding environment and what are the three things that one can feel in their current environment. One is hence expected to think about each of the senses at a time and then reflect on the same as a way of appreciating their current environment and reducing the worry that they are experiencing.
Another exercise that one can implement is the body scan which involves noticing and allowing the various physical sensations in one’s body to help appreciate the surrounding environment. Body scan allows one’s body to directly interact with the surrounding environment as a way of distracting them from the various worries that may be affecting them. The steps for body scan are first lying on one's back with the palms facing up and the feeling slightly apart. During the exercise, one can move their bodies only when necessary. The next step involves bringing awareness to breath where one notices the rhythm and tries to make the breathing in and expelling out process noticeable as it happens. Then one starts giving attention to their bodies by trying to understand how the body feels, the texture of the clothes that are touching one’s skin and the texture of the ground in which one is lying on. Also one can start to feel the temperature of their body vs. the temperature of the surrounding environment. Finally, one start to focus on the various body parts that are either tingling, sore or are feeling heavy or light.
Another useful exercise that one can apply in their day to day lives is mindful seeing which involves having a window with some view and then following a step by step guide as described. The first step involves looking for a window which one can see the outside through and then look at everything that one can see. When one is looking at everything that is outside, it is important that one does not label or start categorizing what they see, but they should notice the various characteristics of what they see outside. The focus should be put on how the breeze, the leaves, and the grass are moving and the various shapes that are represented by the various aspects of the environment. As one is observing, it is advisable that one does not start critically thinking about what they see. During this exercise, one should ensure that they are not distracted, and whenever they are distracted, they should try to put their minds at ease.
Mindful listening is another exercise that one can use to ensure that they are mindful of the surrounding environment rather than focusing on the various worrying issues and regrets in their lives. This involves focusing on the self where one focuses on creating an inner stillness when one is listening during the communication process. The first process of the mindful listening exercise involves first thinking about what one is stressed about and another thing that one is looking forward to. Then this is shared among all the participants of the exercise. Then the participants are encouraged to focus their attention on how they feel when they speak about their feelings and how it feels to speak about the other thing that is positive in their lives. One then observes their thoughts, feelings and body sensations which they experience when they are talking and when they are listening to other people share their feelings.
Another technique that can be used is self-inquiry meditation which involves meditation as a way of gaining enlightenment. One first starts by jotting down the date and what the focus on awareness for that day is. After that one is expected to sit comfortably and then they are expected to let their body and mind settle before they can go to the next step. Then one should try and let go of the various thoughts and then they can clear their mind of the various considerations that they usually experience. Then one focuses on the various thought that can help on feel as being themselves. When carrying out this exercise, it is necessary to ensure that one is not distracted by any negative thoughts.
Also, the mini-mindfulness exercise can be used to help one become mindful of the environment in which they are operating in rather than focusing on the various issues that worry them. This is carried out through three steps with the first step is becoming aware of what one is doing, thinking and sensing at the current moment. One should try and notice the thoughts that come up and then acknowledge how one feels about these thoughts, but then they should let them pass. One should then breathe for at least a minute so that they can help to bring their attention to their breathing. Then one should expand their awareness from their breathing to next their body and then to the surrounding environment where they are expected to sense the various feelings such as aches they may be having, and the various variables in the surrounding environments.
Another exercise that can be used is the mindful walking down the street technique which involves helping one create an awareness that helps to choose between impulse or action and hence helping people develop the necessary skills to deal with various disappointments and regrets in their surrounding environments. The first step involves visualization that one is walking down a familiar street where they see someone they know on the other side of the street. When they wave to that person, the person does not respond but walks past them. The next step involves seeing whether one notices their thoughts and emotions as they imagine the case and then finally one is expected to reflect on the emotions and the thoughts that came up and then seeing how that affects their behavior.
Another simple exercise which can help to induce mindfulness is the observe the leaf for five minutes exercise which involves simply holding a leaf on one’s hand for five minutes and giving it one’s full attention to notice the colors, shape, texture and the various patterns of the leaf. The goal of this is to ensure that one’s thoughts are aligned with the current experience that one may be going through that is making one either worried or have regrets about their past actions.
To enhance one’s awareness of their thinking, another exercise that can be applied is the observe your thoughts for fifteen minutes exercise which involves trying to focus on what one is thinking for fifteen minutes. The steps involve include sitting or lying down in a comfortable position and then trying to let all the tension in one’s body dissipate. This is first achieved through focusing one’s breathing first and then moving one’s awareness to what it feels like to be in your body and then focusing on one’s thoughts. When doing this one should be aware of what comes into their mind and then making sure they resist the urge to label or judge those thoughts but allow the thoughts to pass through their minds. Then one should gently move their thinking back to their thoughts and let the distraction go.
Finally, another mindfulness exercise that can be applied is the stare the center exercise which involves focusing one’s attention on the shifting patterns of colors and then letting one’s mind wander freely while at the same time letting all the thoughts in one’s head come but then staying in the present process. When carrying out the process, it is important for one to ensure that they are careful not to lose oneself in the thought process. One should ensure that they remain in the present moments and just let any thoughts that come by to pass their minds.
PRACTICE MINDFULNESS EACH DAY
Given that stress has become part of everyone life and not only for the old people or people with families, but mindfulness is also needed for everyone in every situation they are facing in their lives. Mindfulness involves having a good awareness of the daily activities that one goes through so that this can help them relax and deal with various challenges and demands of life.
To ensure that one practices mindfulness on a daily basis one needs to focus on the day to day activities that one practice such as brushing their teeth, taking a shower, eating breakfast and walking around. As one focuses on those day to day activities, much focus should be put on the various feelings such as sight, smell, taste, and touch of these activities so that one can relax and change their focus from their day to day stress.
To ensure that the activities of mindfulness carried out each day are effective, one should ensure that the recommended activities of mindfulness are practiced when one wakes up. This helps in setting the tone for the nervous system to adapt to the mood that will set the tone for the activities carried out daily. For example, when one is dozing off, rather than waking up and starting to read the newspapers, watching TV or checking the phone or the email one should focus on things that can help them reduce the dozing off such as taking coffee or taking tea to help them improve their activeness.
As one is practicing mindfulness, one should allow their brain to wander around and notice what the brain notices as it wanders around. Also, one should ensure that the mindfulness practice is short as this is more helpful as compared to lengthy sessions or even weekend retreats. A good example of how one can tune their body to carry out short mindfulness activities may include how one feels when they are putting their shoes on their feet or how tight their jaws feel as one moves them around while talking or chewing.
Given that majority of the people are impatient, and this can be a cause of stress, this can be a good chance to practice mindfulness as one waits for something. For example, when is waiting for a friend of stuck in traffic, one can take this chance to try and be mindful of their surrounding through first focusing one’s breathing, focusing on how the air flows through the body as one breathes in and out and allowing oneself to move the focus from what they are waiting for. This will reduce cases of impatience and ensure that the irritations that are brought about by the waiting are reduced.
To ensure that one practices mindfulness on a daily basis, there is need to create ways of promoting yourself to practice mindfulness from time to time. This can be achieved by choosing a cue which you usually encounter on a daily basis so that it can help one shift their brain into being mindful. For example, one can choose an activity such as brushing teeth as a way of promoting the brain to be mindful. This means that whenever a person is brushing their teeth, they will always be taking this chance as an opportunity to be mindful and hence shift their focus from their daily demand and threats they may be facing in their lives.
Meditation is the best way to ensure that mindfulness is part of the day to day life of a person. This means that for mindfulness to become part of your daily life, it is recommended that you learn how to meditate. One should practice meditation on a daily basis so that an environment for mindfulness is created.
Given that technology has become part of the day to day lives of people, it is recommended that one can use technology as a way of reminding them to carry out mindfulness activities. For example, one can use the alarm on their phones to remind them to take some time off and be mindful by focusing on their breath or doing other recommended activities. Another way one can use technology is to set their alarm wallpaper to be an image which can trigger some form of mindful thinking. Also, one can leave their iPad or their phone at home when they are going for their runs so that they can focus on the beauty of nature and other aspects of the environment.
Another way that one can practice mindfulness on a daily basis is carrying out cleaning activities. This is because cleaning has been considered to be a way of honoring the surrounding environment and nurturing those who live with them. Cleaning helps people to focus on the movement of their body as they clean, the smell of the areas they are cleaning and the sounds made as they clean. As one is cleaning one should focus on dusting, washing dishes, folding laundry, vacuuming and cooking. Such activities help one to shift their mind from the normal day to day activities and focus on things that help their mind relax.
Another way one can ensure that they practice mindfulness on a daily basis is by ensuring that they check in with their body on a day to day basis to feel the sensations on their physical body throughout the day. For example, one can focus on the face where one can check their jaws, their eyes, and the forehead. Also one can check the neck and the shoulders as a way of relaxing one part of the body that carries a lot of stress.
As one is interacting with people on a daily basis, the focus should be made on being mindful of the people they are interacting with. For example, focus on making eye contact with other people as one speaking with them. This means noticing they are around and seeing them. Another way one can be aware of others is ensuring that they are mindful is by listening, actually listening to what other people are talking about. Having gratitude to others is another thing that one can practice by for example having one day when one is thankful for the family and friends and enjoying their company.