What is Stress?
We all know how the demands of modern living can leave us overwhelmed at times. It should not be too difficult to recall a period of time when life became “stressful”.
Stress is our body’s normal reaction to a change in our environment that requires a physical, mental or emotional adjustment or response. The stress response is our body’s way of helping us stay vigilant and focused on the task at hand.
A stressor is a stimulus that causes stress. External stressors can range from a forthcoming examination, difficulties at work, financial problems, marital tension to illness or demise of a loved one. Sometimes, not all stress can be attributed to external causes. Stress that is “self-generated” can be caused by an inflexible, pessimistic attitude, persistent self-defeating thoughts, tendency towards perfectionism, unrealistic expectations, and inability to be assertive or accept uncertainty.
Good stress Vs Bad Stress can come from any situation or thought that makes a person feel frustrated, angry, fearful or anxious. Then again, not all kinds of stress are bad. Stress can be both facilitating and debilitating effects.
Good Stress or “Eustress” in small doses enhances arousal and improves performance. Bad stress or “Distress” on the other hand, is excessive. “Distress” results a decrease in motor, learning and other intellectual abilities and eventually, deterioration in performance.
A “Stressful” Toll
Excessive stress is unpleasant and unhealthy for our minds and bodies in the longer term. Prolonged exposure to high amounts of stress has been associated with high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, insomnia, depression, gastritis and eczema, just to name a few.
Dealing with Stress
No matter what curve balls life throws at us, the good news is that our tolerance to stress can be improved.
Things we can do include having good knowledge about the stressor you are facing, developing an internal sense of control, maintaining a positive attitude and optimistic outlook, using effective emotional regulation strategies and growing a good social support network.
While we will all learn to cope eventually, one of the first steps you can take to regain control when stress becomes unbearable may be to talk to someone about your problems or seek help from a professional can be useful.