“Stress,” What Really Is it?
Stress is basically a response. It can be a response to both good and bad experiences. When people are stressed, their bodies tend to release chemicals and hormones like adrenaline, cortisol, norepinephrine, and others that help react or battle it. Stress in itself is a part of human life. Stress can be emotional, physical and even mental. When a person is under stress, the body attempts to adjust or respond to that change that causes the stress. Keep in mind that change, here, is not necessarily negative. There are positive changes as well that could produce stress. The Cleveland Clinic states that “even positive life changes such as a promotion, a mortgage or the birth of a child produce stress”  so, stress is a basic and intrinsic part of human life. Also, it could stem from daily interactions, excessive workload, an extremely demanding lifestyle, tasks and even illnesses. As earlier mentioned, stress in itself is not a subjective phenomenon. It is however established that stress can be good and bad. Some kinds of stress motivate you, while some demoralize you and probably lead to health issues if excessive and unchecked. Basically, stress is just a reaction to stimuli that could be referred to as “stressors.” Stressors are therefore things that cause stress.
Causes of Stress
Some of the causes of stress or the stressors as we have named them are:
- Excessive Workload
- Marital problems
- Pressure from work, family, society.
- Emotional instabilities such as anger, depression, grief over the demise of a loved one.
All of these and other factors may cause stress. Stress can be caused by more specific things other than the general things listed above in different fields of life. In a marriage, for instance, stress can come
- because a partner nags
- because a partner cheats
- because a partner`s looks and habits are not satisfactory to the other
- from as little as being unhappy or unsatisfied with the home environment
Some other life causes of stress are:
- financial constraint
- terrorist attacks
- religious conflict
- racial discrimination
- unstable health
What Are the Effects of Stress?
Some effects of stress are sometimes associated with illness and infections, especially when unidentified. Stress does not only affect one physically but mentally and emotionally. According to Mayo Clinic, on healthy lifestyles, the effects of stress can be categorized into three; the effects of stress on the body, mood and behavior.
The first step to stress management is recognizing these stress symptoms, and then taking steps to manage them. It is helpful to note that unchecked stress could result in severe health complications.
Common Effects of Stress on your Body
- Muscle Tension
- Chest Pain
Common Effects of Stress on your Mood
- Lack of motivation or focus
- Sadness or Depression
Common Effects of Stress on your Behavior
- Overeating or undereating
- Social Withdrawal
- Angry Outbursts
- Drug Use. 
Some other general effects of stress include
- High blood pressure
- Missed menstrual periods
- Erectile Dysfunction
- Fertility Problems
After encountering any of these, to avoid no-laughing-matter health complications and problems, the next step is to find ways to manage the stress.
As the name indicates, stress management is basically making efforts to deal with stress. There are varied techniques for achieving this feat. Once one is involved in any means of curbing or reducing stress, such a person is said to be undergoing stress management. A fact that researchers have come to agree on in terms of stress management is that it is all in the hands of the individual.
The most crucial steps to great stress management are awareness of the causes or sources of stress (the stressors), then taking control over things in those aspects of life that may cause stress. Some say, “Health is wealth,” so managing stress, we can say is managing wealth and a number of other things too.
Health should be a top priority for an individual, which is why stress management is highly important. Having stable relationships at work, home and in every aspect of one’s life is pivotal to good health and healthy living and of course, one can only achieve this when stress is duly managed.
Managing stress cannot be exhaustively discussed; however, some tips can be given. Of course, we should bear in mind the old saying, “different strokes for different folks”. So here are some of the proven ways to manage stress:
- taking a break from the stressor
- getting more sleep
- having a change of routine
- having a hearty chat
- seeing a movie
- playing a sport
Some Benefits of Stress Management
Stress reduction has loads of benefits, which if well considered, individuals and organizations may promote the campaign for stress management better.
Now think of a stressed Larry who has an unhappy home because he feels his wife overly complains and is never appreciative, no matter how much he tries to please her. If this continues for so long and remains unchecked, Larry may begin to take it out on his kids. He leaves the house to drive to work, emotionally unstable. Larry`s stress affects other road users. This may eventually lead to an accident. Larry gets to work an unhappy man, and perhaps excessively seeking appreciation from his colleagues, as apparently, he doesn’t get enough of it from his wife. This may eventually become a problem at work. Not to forget that Larry`s emotional state may negatively affect his performance at work.
So, Larry`s stress…see all those affected? What if Larry just manages his stress? You already know the result; his kids, other road users, his colleagues at work and himself are happier. So, wouldn`t you want to manage stress and encourage others to do so?
Here are many other benefits of managing stress:
- increased alertness
- clearer thinking
- enhanced creativity
- heightened concentration
- improved listening skills
- enhanced comprehension
- decreased anxiety
- improved self-esteem
- emotional stability
- improved job performance
- better motivation
- more resilience
- boosted brainpower
- fewer illnesses
- calmer mood
- better digestion
- increased immunity
- more energy
- better sleep
It is noteworthy to state that the list above is never-ending. Stress management has a continuing effect on individuals, families, companies and the society at large.
It is better to catch sight of signs of stress and deal with them asap to have a better lifestyle. As one notices signs of stress in their life, so do they notice in others`. Advising a relative, friend, or a colleague on stress management will, in the long run, help many people around them. You remember Larry in this article?
Obvious Signs of Stress
- lack of focus
- muscle twitches
- frequent colds
- sleep problems
- hair loss
- loss of sex drive
- reduced work productivity
- rapid or mumbled speech
- increased smoking and alcohol consumption
Of course, these signs are not limited to stress, and as ways of stress management vary amongst individuals, so do the signs.
Identify signs of stress in your life, find what works best for you in managing it, and help others do so. We can, together, work towards stress reduction in our society.
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 “Stress” Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/11874-stress. Retrieved on 30/01/2018
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 Mayo Clinic Staff. “Stress Management.” Healthy Lifestyle https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-symptoms/art-20050987?pg=1 Retrieved on 31/01/2018
 University Health Service. “Stress: is it your major.” University of Michigan. Retrieved on 31/01/2018 from https://www.uhs.umich.ed/stressmajor
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