It’s Not All in Your Head: Psychological Stress and Its Effects

It is almost silly to ask “what do you mean by stress?”. We’ve all been in stressful situations, especially in the past 2 years after the advent of coronavirus. Social distancing, working from home, lack of work-life balance, online classes, etc., has made us feel overwhelmingly tired, frustrated and caused changes physically and mentally. These are all forms of psychological stress that are caused as a result of certain things that happen in our daily lives.

But What Exactly is Stress?

People often interchange the phrases "stress" and "worry," "anxiety," and "fear," but stress, at its core, is the belief that we won't be able to cope with the challenges we're experiencing. Put simply, feeling overwhelmed.

Medically, psychological stress’ meaning is stated as the body’s response to physical, mental, or emotional pressure. It also causes chemical changes in the body that can raise blood pressure, heart rate, blood sugar levels, etc.

While some stress is reasonable to a certain extent, persistent, overwhelming stress can be detrimental to your physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Signs and Symptoms of Psychological Stress

By knowing and recognizing how psychological stress effects are hurting your body and mind, you can stay attentive and address problems before they become harmful to your health.

Effects on the body

  • Digestive problems
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Irregular periods
  • Impotency
  • Changes in heart rate and blood pressure
  • Muscle tension
  • Headaches

Effects on the mind

  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Problems with memory and concentration
  • Lack of self-confidence
  • Constant worrying
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

Managing Psychological Stress

Most of the time, psychological stress management techniques can help you cope with stress. But when it comes to overwhelming stress that affects your daily routine and health, it's always advisable to seek help from a mental health professional.

Strategies to manage stress

When a person is under stress, the body's nervous system secretes a mix of chemicals that affect them physically and psychologically. During times like this, practising stress management techniques to cope and counteract these chemicals is an effective step forward. Some of these techniques include 一

  • Exercising consistently: Physical activity releases the body’s pleasure hormone –endorphins – that helps counter the negative effects of stress. Besides releasing endorphins, exercising will also help you sleep better and increase your alertness and mindfulness.
  • Organising and Prioritising: The most common stressors include feeling overburdened with responsibilities and tasks. You can meet your objectives on time by efficiently managing your time and prioritizing tasks based on urgency and importance. As a result, the feeling of overwhelm can be alleviated.
  • Maintaining social connections: As previously stated, social distancing has been difficult for us and has resulted in insurmountable stress. We, as social beings, are the happiest when we feel connected to those around us. Socializing with family and friends in a responsible way can help when isolation is the stressor.

It is important to note that people can also be stressors, so be sure to recognize and distance yourself from relationships that do not help.

  • Following a Healthy Lifestyle: Poor sleep, lack of nutrients, stimulants like nicotine, sugar, alcohol, caffeine, etc., induce anxiety and negative thoughts faster. Maintaining a healthy sleep cycle, and watching what you ingest can help you adapt to a healthier lifestyle. By doing so, you are building your body up to better deal with and handle stress.
  • Simply Breathing: Some may argue that this is a great coping method. However, when we are stressed, our breathing becomes shallow and rapid. This is because certain circumstances force us to trigger the flight or fight response. You can counteract this response by allowing yourself to breathe more calmly.

These are just a few of the many stress-reduction approaches that are recommended. Some of these may work, while others may not. It all depends on the individual and the situation in which they find themselves. So take your time and figure out what works for you, and then stick with it!

Even while we can often manage stress on our own or with the help of loved ones, life can become intolerably stressful at times. That is when you should seek the help of a qualified therapist to help you manage your stress.

Talking to a therapist

If you believe you require professional help, trust your gut and take immediate action to find the best practitioner to help you manage stress.

It is important that you find a therapist with whom you can trust and build a good rapport. Poorly trained or unlicensed therapists will do more harm than good. So take your time to find someone who can make you feel comfortable and don’t settle for less.

Ayu Health Hospitals in Bangalore and Chandigarh are staffed with highly experienced specialists who can provide therapy sessions in person, over the phone or online. Visit their website to find a therapist who might be right for you.

Nobody lives a stress-free life, but in times of adversity, we all need a hand. Never put your mental health on the back burner. Take action if you are stressed, anxious, or conscious that your negative thought patterns are harming your well-being. There are times when you can pull yourself out of a bind by using coping mechanisms, and there are times when you can't. So never hesitate to speak up, seek help and stay safe.

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