Stress Effects and Healthy Stress Management Strategies
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Stress can be compared to spices; without it, life would be bland. On the other hand, too much spice can definitely cause implications. Stress, a necessary evil, can be found everywhere. Whether on the job attempting to achieve a promotion or bonus, expectations or demands, financial stability, responsibilities, or social impasse, stress can impact every facet of life. In this paper, I will define stress, discuss the four components of psychosocial health, the major causes of stress and healthy/unhealthy methods of coping, the effects of stress on physical and psychosocial health, skills to alleviate or manage stress, and concluding with management techniques along with benefits. It is important to identify stressors in one life and attempt to reduce the amount. These stressors could be self-imposed, environmental, or demands from others. Stress is important to understand and identify to achieve optimal wellness. The definition of stress is “the mental and physical response of our bodies to the changes and challenges in our lives” (Donatelle, 2010).
These challenges or changes are classified as stressors which can have a dramatic effect on one’s health. These stressors can range based on the importance of success or potential implications threatening the health of individuals involved. Examples of these types of stressors include working in elements such as high/low temperatures, high risk occupations; a decision to invest a life savings in a business; or even the pressure of marriage. Every scenario in life has a certain degree of pressure to be successful. Stress can be positive or negative though. Eustress is a form of stress that is created due to someone attempting to better themselves. Although, it is classified as positive, it can impact one’s health just as much as distress. It is important to reduce these stressors; especially, stressors that occur every day or psychosocial stress. “Psychosocial stress refers to the factors in our daily lives that cause stress” (Donatelle, 2010) which directly effects psychosocial health. Psychosocial health is broken down into four components.
These components include “mental, emotional, spiritual, and social” (Donatelle, 2010). The components can be further broken down into “thinking”, “feeling”, “interconnectedness”, and “fitting in”. When it comes to mental health, it is how someone thinks objectively without allowing feelings obscure judgments. Emotional health is keeping one’s feelings under control in adverse conditions. Spiritual health is connecting oneself to others through beliefs. Social health is one’s ability to adapt to social situations. These components of health definitely play a role on how someone handles everyday stressors. Everyone faces obstacles that are driven by choices made. These choices made, driven by the four components of psychosocial health, can be beneficial in many ways. For instance, if one is face with a problem, they may be able to look for support or guidance. Being healthy in the four components will allow someone to seek help or support, eliminating feelings from overtaking one’s mind, and analyzing a problem without emotions.
Too many times we base decisions on short-term effects and not look at the long-term. An example of this would be smoking. Everyone that smokes understands the implications of smoking: heart disease or lung cancer being two of many. Still, individuals smoke because of the consequence not being instant. If one eats a habanero and burns there mouth, they probably will not eat another. There are many causes of stress in people’s lives and many unhealthy methods of coping. One of the biggest stressors would be that in the workplace that coincides with financial stability, which leads into responsibilities in the home. Stress in the workplace can be due to the nature of the job or environmental conditions, demands that are set by one’s managers, or self-imposed demands. These stressors can overtake one’s life by adding pressure or affect physical health impacting attitude or aggression to family or friends. Often this mental state of mind, individuals may look for methods that can give them an immediate need of comfort or euphoria.
This euphoria is normally met by methods such as drugs, cutting or deliberate-self-harm, smoking, alcohol, eating, or over indulgence. These coping methods along with the effects of stress on the body itself can become overwhelming. The effects of stress on physical and psychological health can be deadly. The body’s response to stressors is one that attempts to regain the status of homeostasis. The effect of stress on the body can include high blood pressure or hypertension, diabetes, obesity, susceptibility to disease due to immune system breakdown, sleep deprivation, or headaches. The psychological effects from stress include depression, anxiety, aggression, low self-esteem, or even panic attacks. Every condition can lead to more severe conditions such as strokes, heart attacks or even death if not addressed. It is important to learn methods or skills to manage stress in a manner which reduces the severity on the individual. As in everything in life, there are certain skill sets that help one manage stress.
“Dealing with stress involves assessing all aspects of a stressor, examining your response and how you can change it, and learning to cope” (Donatelle, 2010). In the assessment phase, it is important to look at the stressor from all angles. Is it something that you could eliminate or change to reduce the stressor’s overall impact on health? In the examination phase, examine the options set forth in answers given. If it is not something that can be changed or eliminated, it is important to create a healthy coping mechanism. There are many healthy stress management techniques that one could use. One of these techniques is “Progressive Muscle Relaxation which reduces stress and anxiety by alternating tensing and relaxing the muscles. It was argued that since muscle tension accompanies anxiety, one can reduce anxiety by learning how to relax the muscular tension” (Varvogli & Darviri, 2011). It had been proven to help not just physical but mental health as well including decreased blood pressure and heart rate. Another technique that manages stress is exercising.
Exercising is another technique that can counteract stress. Stress creates a “flight or fight” environment. The ability to perform a physical activity such as exercising can create a counter to normalize ones physical and mental needs. The last technique I want to cover is “Relaxation Response which entails an individual to learn and repeat a word, sound, prayer, thought, phrase or muscular movement through which concentration is achieved” (Varvogli & Darviri, 2011). Then in a moment where stress is at high levels, one would be able to recite these words to achieve the same relaxation used earlier in meditation. In conclusion, stress can cause much damage to a person’s health. Stress is a part of everyday life.
By focusing on the four dimensions of psychosocial health, one will be able to address these daily issues by understanding how to be healthy. Stress can impact ones physical and mental health causing issues that one may not be able to return from. It is vital that one develop healthy coping methods reducing the impact of stress on the body and mind. Learning to develop a skill set that helps one manage stressors will eliminate or reduce these effects. For stressors that one cannot be eliminated, stress management techniques may help individuals deal with stress. Stress is insidious; it sneaks up on you not allowing you to always have a plan to counteract its effects.
Donatelle, R. J. (2010). Access to Health (Green Edition ed.). San Francisco, California, United States: Pearson Education. Varvogli, L., & Darviri, C. (2011). Stress Management Techniques: evidence-based procedures that reduce stress and promote health. Health Science Journal, 74-89.