The A To Z Of Stress – Types, Symptoms, Causes And Effects June 27, 2016

My 6 year old daughter put her foot down for some silly reason the other day saying that she was stressed out! I was literally taken aback. Do kids of this age really understand what the word means? “I’m stressed”! This has become a common saying now. Right from school going kids to the silver hair generation, stress has spread like an epidemic and that too at an alarming rate.

But, what exactly is this contagious condition? And, is it really grave as it seems to be? Stress, when experienced in a limited and specific way, can prove to be beneficial. But the impact takes a negative form as the intensity deepens. Get to know more about this alarming condition and how it affects human life with this write-up.

Types of Stress:

What exactly is stress? As per the definition given by late Dr. Hans Selye, a stress expert, “it is the non-specific response of the body to any demand made upon it”. You create it on its own; so do not put the blame on someone else. Classifying broadly, stress can be divided into two – chronic and acute.

1. Acute stress is the one experienced when you come across an unexpected situation, say unprecedented accident or the death of a near one or a heated argument with your spouse. While isolated incidents of acute stress does not impact you in a negative way, severe levels of these incidents such as facing an unexpected life threatening situation might need medical help.

2. Talking about chronic stress, it is the aftermath of unresolved acute stressful episodes. It lasts for a longer time and can prove to be detrimental to your personal, physical, psychological, and professional lives. There are quite a few cases where chronic stress levels have triggered suicide as well. So, be careful!

Causes of Stress

According to Deanne Panday, the author of “I’m not stressed”, there are six major triggers for stress:

  1. Work
  2. Family
  3. Money
  4. Relationships
  5. Modern life
  6. Crisis

1. Work:

Increased working hours put together with the unrealistic expectations that stem from the working conditions trigger an alarming level of stress. Let me state an example here. X and Y worked in the same company for more than 3 months. They joined at the same time. Y was younger than X, but X was more experienced. Despite this and X’s exemplary performance levels, Y always managed to grab the limelight. This created immense stress levels in X, which even affected her professional and personal lives to an unimaginable level. She started spending more time at her office to impress her boss. Finally, unable to bear the stress levels, she quit. This happens everywhere and is one of the major causes of depression as well.

2. Family:

Merging time zones created longer working hours, that in turn called for people to spend more hours at the office than at home. And, this creates stress, especially more for women. Juggling between countless roles – mother, wife, daughter, sister, and many more – she finds herself lost at times. In India, the pressure and stress created by in-laws add up to the woes.

3. Money:

Money is the buzzword of today. People, in an attempt to earn more and more, lose out on other aspects of life. And the result – zero happiness, 100% tension, and stress. While monetary stability is quintessential today, it should not be the sole objective of life.

4. Relationships:

Be it with your boyfriend/girlfriend or spouse, or in-laws, or with colleagues, each comes with its own share of pluses and minuses. Psychologists and counsellors vouch insecurity in relationship as one of the most commonly cited reasons for stress. Mingling work/business with family pleasures does call for unwanted stress.

[ Read: Yoga Poses For Managing Stress ]

5. Modern Life:

Let us go with an example. X and Y are in the same position in a company. However, there is a major difference in their lifestyle. While X leads a post, extravagant life, Y, despite earning the same salary finds it difficult to embrace the lifestyle of X. This, undeniably, invites unwanted stress. Yet another scenario that creates stress, especially in women, is their weight. Being fat is considered a taboo. She hits the gym and tries all XYZ diets to lose weight. The countless advertisements, celebrity show-offs, plus hi-fi lifestyle – no wonder women are after the weight loss journey, only to find themselves totally stressed out.

6. Crisis:

Unexpected crises in life, such as a major accident or death of your near ones, could affect you in a very intense way. The more the unexpected the incident is, the higher the level of stress you will be prone to. So, always be on the vigil!

Effects of Stress

Stress, at times, has an inexpressible effect on one’s life. It does take its toll on the involved aspects; that too in all ways – physically, psychologically, on your family, work, as well as other spheres of life.

1. Stress and Health:

Here is a picture that depicts how stress can affect your health:

2. Stress and Relationships:

Stress hurts relationships as well. What would seem to be a simple argument could result in a breakup or divorce. Possessiveness, unwanted complexes, attitude issues, etc. creates unwanted tension between you and your significant other, which if goes unnoticed transforms into intense levels of stress, finally gulping the whole relationship.

3. Stress and Work:

While a controlled level of stress can prove to be productive and boost performance levels, extreme levels of this condition have a negative impact. Poor performance levels, dip in productivity, workplace fights, lack of motivation, lack of concentration, unwanted anxiety levels, high turnover, high absenteeism, low morale, etc. are few of the negative effects of stress.

How to manage your stress levels?

It is easier said than done. Many a times, it is very easy for a person to tell you to relax while you are under stress, but when he comes under the fire, he/she will find themselves unable to find a solution. While unwanted stress can be eliminated with careful evaluation of underlying issues, never hesitate to seek professional help if you feel that the situation is out of your control.

Here are few ways you could keep yourself away from the impacts of stress:

1. Identify the root cause:

Try to find out the reason why you are prone to stress. Think analytically, and not emotionally. Don’t be too harsh on yourself; don’t be judgmental. Just think rationally to identify the underlying reason.

2. Maintain a personal diary:

If you are juggling between too many tasks, then start creating a journal. Having things written in a place will simplify things. In times of stress, this will come to your rescue.

3. Plan your schedule:

Try to create a discipline in life by scheduling things. Planning is the key; however, if you are unable to execute a day’s plan as it was intended to be, do not be harsh on yourself. Give yourself a pat on your back each time you finish the task as per your plan. Along with keeping stressful conditions at bay, it will also boost your morale and motivation levels.

4. Learn to say “NO”

There are cases where you invite stress yourself by taking responsibilities of things which you know you will never be able to complete. So, say a no. Saying no does not imply that you are weak. Negating, in reality, could be done only if you are strong from within.

5. Take the help of your near and dear ones:

You can take the help of people who are close to you. A new bride could always rely on her mother in law to adjust to the new environment, while a new employee could look to a senior employee to adapt to the new conditions. Don’t hesitate to open up with to your friends and family. Last, but not the least, opt for professional intervention wherever required.

The best example of stress would be a woman who wants to lose weight. Women out there, just remember one thing. Each one of you has a different body composition. Just because you are fat does not mean you are ugly. Appreciate your body and yourself. Do not insult it. Every time you reach a milestone, congratulate yourself. These small factors lower the stress levels.

You should learn to appreciate about the small successes you incur. Every time you cross a milestone, you are defeating your stress levels. Stress, after all, is the way your body reacts to a particular situation. So relax! Life comes packed with unexpected situations. While many say expecting the worst keeps you prepared for life in a better way, I would say optimism is the key to a happier life. However worse the scenario might be, your positivity would definitely help you to tide over those.

Always try to find some time for yourself. It could be a 10 minute meditation or an hour of yoga. Shell out the bucks you earn on an awesome massage to rejuvenate yourself. A lunch with your best friend, a facial at your favourite beauty parlour, a short trip with your significant other and/or family, a game of Snakes & Ladders with your  6-year old – these are just a few among the best stress busters you can ever find. Try to find such moments in your life, and just see the difference it makes! Adopt these ideas and bid adieu to the symptoms of stress right away!

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  • Vedika

    Stress has become a part and parcel of life now, isn’t it? And it is so hard to believe that the solutions can be so very simple. But it is definitely worth a try. You gotta start somewhere!