Personal Development
3 types of stress and what you can do to fight them

3 types of stress and what you can do to fight them

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Managing Stress: The Keys to Maintaining Mental Fitness

When left unmanaged, stress can take a toll on both physical and mental health. Symptoms such as headaches, upset stomach, increased heart rate, and difficulty sleeping may lead to serious illnesses such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and depression. Finding ways to manage and reduce stress, such as exercising, meditating, and speaking to a trusted friend or counselor, is essential for maintaining mental fitness and may help prevent the adverse effects of stress.

What is Stress?

Stress is a physiological and psychological reaction that can be triggered by a perceived challenge or threat. It can affect the brain, memory, metabolism, and immune system. Examples of stress include studying for a test that was prepared for, but feeling overwhelmed by the material; or completing a difficult project and then quickly becoming ill. When stress levels are normalized post-challenge, mental fitness is maintained and wellbeing is restored.

The Hormonal Shifts Behind Stress

When a stressful situation arises, the hypothalamus (a tiny region in the brain) activates the stress response. This sends a series of signals to the adrenal glands, where stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline are released. These hormones increase glucose in the bloodstream and prepare the body for action by activating muscle repair and decreasing non-essential functions. Although these hormones can be beneficial during moments of stress, they can also become problematic when triggered too frequently.

What Causes Stress?

Understanding the root cause of stress can help with managing it, so it is important to identify the sources of stress in your life. Common sources of stress include:

  • Financial Obligations. Struggling to meet financial obligations, long-term unemployment, and increasing debt.
  • Death of a Loved One. The emotional toll of the passing of a family member or friend can produce grief as well as loneliness, disappointment, and anger.
  • Unpredictable Events. Traumatic events such as natural disasters, car accidents, and other unexpected experiences can lead to stress and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • Workplace Pressure. Working parents and women in male-dominated industries may experience additional time pressures due to the demands of their jobs.

Managing stress can be beneficial for overall wellbeing, and each person responds to stressful events differently.

Stress: Good and Bad

It is important to note that not all stress is a bad thing. Positive stress can be beneficial, however, stress that is too great can lead to burnout or illnesses such as depression and anxiety. Finding balance between stress and relaxation is the key to maintaining mental fitness.

The Three Types of Stress

Stress can be categorized into three distinct types: acute stress, episodic acute stress, and chronic stress. Acute stress is the immediate reaction to a new or challenging situation, while episodic stress occurs on a frequent basis. Chronic stress manifests due to long-term stressors and can be the most difficult to manage.

What is Stress?

Stress is a normal part of life caused by a variety of factors including work, relationships, and financial worries. When stress is short-lived and occasional, it is known as acute stress. Common symptoms of acute stress include pupil dilation, increased heart rate, perspiration, fast and heavy breathing, anxiety, and emotional ups and downs. On the other hand, chronic stress occurs when these stressors and difficult conditions last over an extended period of time. If left unchecked, episodic acute stress and chronic stress can lead to severe physical and mental health issues such as digestive problems, heart disease, anxiety disorders, depression, burnout, obesity, and disordered eating.

Stress Management Strategies

Fortunately, there are various strategies to help combat and manage stress in our lives. A few of these include:

  • Exercise: Exercising for at least 30 minutes five times a week helps to reduce stress and promotes a healthy lifestyle.
  • Mindfulness and Meditation: These relaxation techniques can be practiced virtually anywhere and have been shown to help reduce stress and increase self-awareness.
  • Therapy and Coaching: Working with a professional therapist or coach can be an effective way to explore the underlying causes of chronic stress and develop stress management techniques.
  • Time Management: Being able to manage time effectively is essential to establishing the correct work-life balance and recognizing when and why stress arises.
  • Spending Time in Nature: Nature is known to have therapeutic properties that help promote emotional wellbeing and reduce stress.
  • Eating Healthily: Eating the right food and keeping hydrated is important for maintaining physical and mental health.
  • Spending Time with Friends and Family: Maintaining strong relationships with friends and family can help to reduce overall stress levels.

Despite stress being an unavoidable part of life, it is important to recognize and be mindful of it. Doing so can help us to reduce the long-term health impacts associated with stress and maintain a sense of balance. If, however, you ever feel that you are unable to manage your stress, it is important to seek professional help.

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