What is Stress?

Stress is any extrinsic or intrinsic stimulus that educes a biological reaction and it gets experienced once you encounter a threat you feel you don’t have the resources needed to deal with. Based on the severity, timing, and type of the stimulus, stress exerts different actions on your body ranging from homeostasis alterations to life-threatening impacts and death.

In some instances, pathophysiological disease complications emerge from stress, and the person exposed to stress, for instance, people who live or work in stressful atmospheres, have a higher probability of multiple disorders (Schneiderman et al., 2005). A stimulus is a stressor (threat) that leads to stress, e.g., a loved one’s death, divorce, exam, job loss, etc.

Severe and sudden stress generally leads to:

  • Increase in breathing
  • Increased heart rate
  • Liver released glucose for energy
  • Decrease in digestive activity

Firstly, your body analyzes and judges a circumstance and chooses whether it is stressful or not. The decision gets rooted in your sensory input plus processing (that is, the things you hear and see in the circumstance) as well as in stored memories (that is, what occurred once you were previously in the same situation).

Once the situation is stressful, the hypothalamus gets activated immediately. The hypothalamus is in charge of your stress response and once a stress response gets triggered, signals are sent to the adrenal medulla and pituitary gland. The short-term responses get generated by the flight or fight responses.
Signs and Symptoms of Stress

When you have stress, it can affect your emotions, body, and the way you behave in many ways. At times when you are stressed, you may tell right away. Nonetheless, sometimes, you may fail to recognize the signs of stress.

The hormones that your body produces to deal with stressful circumstances may have multiple effects such as: (Elizabeth, 2022).

  • Panic attacks
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Trembling
  • Dizziness
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Sleep problems
  • Diarrhea
  • Changes in mood
  • Sore eyes or blurred vision
  • Headaches and muscle aches
  • Heartburn or indigestion
  • Anxiety
  • Grinding teeth
  • Low energy
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Sudden weight loss or weight gain
  • Developing itchy skin or rushes
  • Menstrual cycle changes

How to Identify Stress

It is not always easy to recognize stress, but there are many ways to identify common signs that you may be encountering too much pressure. Stress may emanate from an obvious experience, but sometimes small daily stresses from friends, work, family, and school may affect your body and mind.
There are several things you can look for when you think stress may be affecting you and they include:

  • Emotional signs, e.g., being irritated, angry, frustrated, or moody
  • Psychological signs, e.g., worrying, difficulty concentrating, trouble remembering, anxiety
  • Behavioral signs, e.g., failing to enjoy things you used to before, poor self-care, depending on alcohol or drugs to cope
  • Physical signs, e.g., changes in weight, high blood pressure, menstrual cycle and libido changes, frequent infections or colds

Stress vs. Anxiety

Sometimes, stress may get mistaken for anxiety since encountering a great stress deal may lead to anxiety feelings. Once you are suffering from anxiety, it may be hard to deal with stress, eventually leading to other health problems, including susceptibility to illness, depression, and digestive issues.

Anxiety and stress lead to poor sleep, muscle tension, hypertension, nervousness, and worrying too much (McEwen et al., 2012). In some instances, stress emanates from external occurrences, whereas anxiety emanates from your internal response to stress. Stress may end when the situation or threat resolves, but anxiety may continue when the stressor is gone.

What Causes Stress?

Anything that places high demands can be stressful and this comprises of positive events, for instance, going to college, receiving a promotion, purchasing a house, or getting married. Some of these circumstances are frequently considered happy events. For instance, you may feel anticipated to be excited or happy about having a kid or getting married.

However, such events may lead to huge transformations, and you may encounter unusual or new demands. Thus, they may feel stressed and this may be tough to cope with, particularly in case you feel burdened or pressured to be positive.

Nevertheless, not all stress gets contributed by external factors. Also, stress may be self-generated or internal, once you worry overly about things that may not or may occur, or have illogical, pessimistic thoughts.

Things that cause stress depend on your perception of them. Something that stresses you may not affect someone else since may even be enjoying it. Where one individual succeeds under pressure and does well under a tight deadline, another is going to shut down once the demands of the work intensify.

Common extern stress causes include:

  • Relationship difficulties
  • Major life changes
  • Being too occupied or busy
  • School or work
  • Family and children

Literature Cited

  1. Elizabeth, S. (2022). How Is Stress Affecting My Health?. Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/stress-and-health-3145086.
  2. McEwen, B. S., Eiland, L., Hunter, R. G., & Miller, M. M. (2012). Stress and anxiety: structural plasticity and epigenetic regulation as a consequence of stress. Neuropharmacology62(1), 3-12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3196296/
  3. Schneiderman, N., Ironson, G., & Siegel, S. D. (2005). Stress and health: psychological, behavioral, and biological determinants. Annual review of clinical psychology1, 607. https://doi.org/10.1146%2Fannurev.clinpsy.1.102803.144141

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