Stress - What it is, and how it's experienced.
Stress is the body's reaction to a change that requires a physical, mental or emotional adjustment or response, therefore, stress is a part of all of our daily lives. In and of itself, stress is not a bad thing; in fact, when human beings react to stress by correctly identifying problems and implementing sound problem solving techniques, in other words, manage stress, it can be credited with motivating the human body toward equilibrium.
But when stress is long term and unremitting, and when a solution cannot be found and the body's equilibrium is not restored stress has a debilitating and damaging effect on the body. When we believe the demands upon us are greater than our ability to cope with these demands our body’s response can be described as distress.
The causes of stress are individual to each of us. It has been said that stress is in the eye of the beholder. What causes distress in one person, may be only challenging to another person. Some causes of stress are death or injury of someone close, one’s own marriage or that of a sibling, marriage, separation or divorce from one’s partner, pregnancy or birth of a new baby, children's behaviour, disobedience or hyperactivity or sexual molestation. Other causes might be communication problems with one’s spouse, family members, friends or neighbours. Perhaps there is insufficient money to meet daily expenses or experiencing a burglary. Often searching for a new home and packing and moving is cited as a stressor.
Stress, as it is described above, can be the culprit in cases of child abuse and neglect. Stress levels can become so high that fear and anger take over. Parents neglect to meet their children's needs, or tragically children become the victims of abuse.
Many different kinds of crisis cause stress. Stress can manifest itself physically, emotionally and/or mentally.
The most common physical symptom is headaches because stress causes people to unconsciously tense their neck, forehead and shoulder muscles.
Long-term stress can lead to digestive problems including ulcers, insomnia, fatigue, high blood pressure, nervousness and excessive sweating, heart disease, strokes and even hair loss.
These responses are due to stress affecting the mind and include anxiety, anger, depression, irritability, frustration, over-reaction to everyday problems, memory loss and a lack of concentration for any task.
Anxiety is normally shown as a response to loss, failure, danger or a fear of the unknown. Anger is a common response to frustration or social stress and can become a danger to other individuals if not kept in check. Depression is frequently seen as an emotional response to upsetting situations such as the death of a loved one, illness and failure.
Long-term stress can cause psychological problems in some individuals. Symptoms include withdrawal from society, phobias, compulsive behaviors, eating disorders and night terrors.
Most of us experience stress at one time or another. Without stress, there would be no life. However, excessive or prolonged stress can be harmful. Stress is unique and personal. A situation may be stressful for someone but the same situation may be challenging for others. For example, arranging a world level symposium may be challenging for one person but stressful to another. Some persons have habit of worrying unnecessarily.