Stress can be a useful feeling in small amounts in order to achieve goals and to protect yourself in dangerous situations. A person can experience stress when they feel they are unable to cope with a particular situation (whether real or imagined). What might be stressful to one person, may not create a stress response in someone else.
Acute stress refers to short, intense periods of stress (e.g. sitting in traffic, deadlines). Chronic stress refers to ongoing stress which occurs after events such as a death, a divorce or living in abusive environments.
It is important to note that what one person may feel stressed about, may not create the same response in someone else. Everyone can experience stress in many ways ***physically and emotionally. Some characteristics of stress include (but not limited to)
- Mood swings
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty sleeping
- Social withdrawal
- Feeling anxious
When someone’s stress hormones are working overtime, a person’s body weakens and are more susceptible to stomach problems, headaches, feelings of anxiety, tiredness and depression. Long term stress can contribute to long-term health conditions including heart problems, high blood pressure, ulcers.
*** If you are experiencing these physical sensations, it is also important to visit your GP to carry out a physical examination or blood tests to rule out any other conditions that may be causing your symptoms.***
Some things that may help
Talk about it: Although it can be difficult to share, speak to a trusted friend or family member about what you are experiencing. It’s more beneficial to speak to someone that you are going to feel assured and validated by as opposed to speaking to someone who may judge you for your feelings.
Additionally, reaching out to someone outside of your close circle can offer non-biased support and an outsider’s perspective. Counsellors and therapists can help your stress by exploring what factors trigger and maintain your stress. They can help you to develop stress reduction techniques and improve coping strategies.
Exercise: If you’re feeling a lot of physical sensations from stress, doing some form of exercise is a good way to relieve that extra tension and adrenaline. It does not have be an hour an exercise, even a few minutes of movement may bring some relief. Like everything else, finding a type of exercise that works for you, is going to be most beneficial for you. For some people, it will be outdoor activities like running, walking, team sports. For other people, it might be something indoor like going to the gym, yoga, swimming, or dancing.
Relaxation: There are lots of ways to relax but it’s important to know what works for you. This can vary each moment where sometimes, a walk might be useful where other times, listening to music is going to serve you better in that particular moment. Other things may include meditation, playing with a pet, watching a movie, journaling (i.e. writing down your thoughts, feelings, experiences).