Stress: What you should know about it

Stress: What you should know about it


Everyone feels stressed from time to time, but what is stress? How does it affect your overall health? And what can you do to manage it?


According to, stress is how the brain and body respond to any demand. Any type of challenge—such as performance at work or school; a significant life change, or a traumatic event—can be stressful.


It can affect your health. It is important to pay attention to how you deal with minor and major stressors; so you know when to seek help.


Here are five things you should know.



1. Stress affects everyone

Everyone experiences it from time to time. There are different types —all of which carry physical and mental health risks.

A stressor may be a one-time or short-term occurrence, or it can happen repeatedly over a long time.

Some people may cope more effectively and recover from stressful events more quickly than others.

Examples include:

  • Routine stress related to the pressures of school, work, family, and other daily responsibilities.


  • Stress brought about by a sudden negative change, such as losing a job, divorce, or illness.


  • Traumatic stress experienced during an event such as a major accident, war, assault, or natural disaster where people may be in danger of being seriously hurt or killed. People who experience the traumatic version may have very distressing temporary emotional and physical symptoms, but most recover naturally soon after.



2. Not all stress is bad

In a dangerous situation, stress signals the body to prepare to face a threat or flee to safety.

In these situations, your pulse quickens, you breathe faster, your muscles tense; and your brain uses more oxygen and increases activity—all functions aimed at survival and as a response.

In non-life-threatening situations, it can motivate people, such as when they need to take a test or interview for a new job.



3. Long-term stress can harm your health

Coping with the impact of chronic stress can be challenging. Because the source of long-term stress is more constant than acute stress; the body never receives a clear signal to return to normal functioning.

With chronic stress, those same lifesaving reactions in the body can disturb the immune, digestive, cardiovascular, sleep, and reproductive systems.

Some people may experience mainly digestive symptoms, while others may have headaches, sleeplessness, sadness, anger, or irritability.

Over time, continued strain on your body may contribute to serious health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other illnesses, including mental disorders such as depression or anxiety.



ALSO READ: Ways to hack your nervous system to consciously manage stress



4. There are ways to manage stress.

If you take practical steps to manage your stress, you may reduce the risk of negative health effects. Here are some tips that may help you to cope with stress:

  • Be observant. Recognize the signs of your body’s response to stress, such as difficulty sleeping, increased alcohol and other substance use, being easily angered, feeling depressed, and having low energy.


  • Talk to your health care provider or a health professional. Don’t wait for your health care provider to ask about your stress. Start the conversation and get proper health care for existing or new health problems. Effective treatments can help if your stress is affecting your relationships or ability to work. Don’t know where to start?


  • Get regular exercise. Just 30 minutes per day of walking can help boost your mood and improve your health.


  • Try a relaxing activity. Explore relaxation or wellness programs, which may incorporate meditation, muscle relaxation, or breathing exercises. Schedule regular times for these and other healthy and relaxing activities.


  • Set goals and priorities. Decide what must get done now and what can wait. Learn to say “no” to new tasks if you start to feel like you’re taking on too much. Try to be mindful of what you have accomplished at the end of the day, not what you have been unable to do.


  • Stay connected. You are not alone. Keep in touch with people who can provide emotional support and practical help. To reduce it, ask for help from friends, family, and community or religious organizations.


  • Consider a clinical trial. Researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and other research facilities across the country are studying the causes and effects of psychological stress as well as management techniques.



5. If you’re overwhelmed by stress, ask for help from a health professional.

You should seek help right away if you have suicidal thoughts, are overwhelmed, feel you cannot cope, or are using drugs or alcohol more frequently as a result..

Your doctor may be able to provide a recommendation. Resources are available to help you find a mental health provider.

About The Author

Osigweh Lilian Oluchi is a graduate of the University of Lagos where she obtained a B.A (Hons) in English, Masters in Public and International affairs (MPIA). Currently works with 1stnews as a Database Manager / Writer. [email protected]

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