In researching stress, one would learn about what stress is, the early warning signs of stress, the different types of stress, and how to build resistance to it. Stress is a combination of physical, mental, and emotional feelings that result from pressure, worry, and anxiety.
The pressures from stress are called stressors. Some examples of common stressors are: divorce, death in the family, job change, pregnancy, a large mortgage, marriage, and retirement. In medicine, stress is, a physical, chemical, or emotional development that causes strains that can lead to physical illness. (Microsoft Encarta)
Some of the most common symptoms of stress are emotional distress, muscular problems, and stomach problems. Emotional distress includes anger, irritability, and anxiety. Muscular problems such as tension headaches, upper and lower back pain, and jaw pain (TMJ), are symptoms of stress. Muscular tensions that lead to pulled muscles and tendon and ligament problems, are symptoms of stress as well. Other symptoms of stress are stomach, gut and bowel problems. Heartburn, acid stomach, ulcers, flatulence, diarrhea, constipation, and irritable bowel syndrome are examples of these problems. Symptoms like cold hands or feet, shortness of breath, and chest pain are also common.
The early warning signs of stress include apathy, anxiety, irritability, mental fatigue, and overcompensation or denial. What is stressful for one person, may or may not be stressful for another; each person responds to stress in a different way. A person can plan their life so that stress doesn’t overwhelm them. Managed stress makes people productive and happy.
There are four types of stress. There is acute stress, episodic acute stress, chronic stress, and traumatic stress. Each type of stress has its own characteristics, symptoms, duration, and treatments.
Acute stress is the common type of stress. Acute stress is exciting and thrilling in small amount, but too much is exhausting. Overdoing it on acute stress can lead to psychological distress, tension headaches, upset stomach, and other symptoms. Some examples of stressors that can cause acute stress are: an auto accident that crumpled the car fender; a child’s occasional problems at school; and so on. Acute stress doesn’t have enough time to do extensive damage that is associated with long-term stress.
Episodic Acute stress is what people who suffer from acute stress frequently have. These people’s lives are so disorderly that they are constantly in a state of chaos and crisis. There are always in a hurry, but they are always late. Another form of episodic acute stress comes from no-stop worry. These people tend to be over aroused and tense. The symptoms of episodic acute stress are the symptoms of extended over arousal: persistent tension headaches, migraines, hypertension, chest pain, and heart disease. Suffers are usually very resistant to change of any kind. Acute stress can come up in anyone’s life but it is highly treatable and manageable.
A more serious type of stress is chronic stress. Chronic stress is the grinding stress that wears people away day after day, year after year. (Battison, 1997 p. 19) It destroys minds, bodies, and lives. Chronic stress comes when a person doesn’t see a way out of a miserable situation. The worst part of chronic stress is that people get used to it and forget that it’s there. Chronic stress kills by means of suicide, violence, heart attack, stroke, and perhaps, even cancer. The symptoms of chronic stress are hard to treat and could require a lot of medical and behavioral treatment, therapy, and stress management
. Traumatic stress is a special kind of chronic stress, known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It is caused by trauma that is not handled correctly. Some example of traumatic experiences are: accidents, rape, verbal, physical, psychological, or sexual abuse, being in the presence of extreme violence, a brush with death, natural disasters, death of a loved one, and imprisonment. The symptoms of PTSD are flashbacks, over arousal, emotional numbness or loss of feeling, along with extreme emotional outbursts to minor things. People with PTSD suffer from problems with concentration, controlling impulses, and decision making, The long term consequences of PTSD are depression, anxiety, behavioral disorders, multiple personality disorder, and suicide.
There are three basic strategies for dealing with stress. The first strategy is altering situations to make them less stressful. Avoiding stressful situations is the next strategy. Accepting stressful situations is the other basic strategy in dealing with stress at the source. Each strategy has it’s disadvantages and it’s advantages. It’s up to every person to decide which one to use with which situation. The tougher a person’s resistance to stress is, the more stress they can take. (Hanson, 1985 p.52)
There is a lot a person can do to maximize their resistance to stress. People have resources to help them handle stress. The re resources include family and financial resources, social and spiritual resources, as well as personal resources. They can also develop good health habits and get rid of bad health habits to help build up a resistance to stress. Improving a person’s nutritional habits makes them much less susceptible to stress.
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