What Is Stress?
In definition, it is the response the mental or physical body has to any kind of change. In other words, getting up and going to the kitchen could be defined as stressful!
But, more commonly, stress is a known as a strain that occurs under demanding circumstances. It can cause us to be emotionally distraught, and if we stay stressed for too long, it can cause our mental and physical health to suffer. In fact, The American Medical Association has said that stress is the underlying cause of over 60% of all human disease.
What Causes Stress?
Perception and mindset has a lot to do with how much stress a person experiences. For instance, a rude sales clerk may cause one person to get upset, feel bad, and stress out for the entire day, whereas another person may forgive easily and continue to be positive and optimistic for the rest of the day despite the rude sales clerk.
Also, living in the past or future, rather than in the moment, can cause a lot of stress on the body. This is because when we focus on the past, we tend to be regretful, while when we focus on the future, worry and anxiety play a huge part in our lives. Being mindful and living in the moment is the best way to stay optimistic, joyful, and stress-free.
Other common reasons stress can occur include:
– Unrealistic or strict exceptions on yourself and others. For instance, when things do not work out the way they were expected to work out, stress and anxiety can settle in.
– Life changes such as moving, relationship changes, career changes, and financial changes can cause stress. However, this usually caused from worry and anxiety, which boils down to worrying about the future as opposed to taking it one step at a time.
– Low self-confidence can cause stress. Worrying about whether or not you will get what you want (or deserve what you want) can cause a lot of stress on the body. In addition, being put in stressful situations where interactions are important can cause a person with low self-confidence to experience extreme stress.
Different Types Of Stress
There are three main types of stress.
1. Acute Stress
This is the most common type of stress. This is the stress that occurs in the moment because of recent experiences or near future expectations. It gets our heart pumping and it can be exciting in the moment. For instance, the anticipation of meeting someone new can cause acute stress.
Wedding stress, travel expectations, and even exciting ventures can cause acute stress. It is very easy to determine what is causing the stress when it is acute stress because there is an event that is occurring soon, and usually after the situation is dealt with, the stress goes away.
2. Episodic Acute Stress
This is when acute stress is taken to another level. People who experience episodic acute stress are always worried about the next big event, focused on too much at one time, have too much on their plate, and feel pressure over the same things continuously.
For instance, someone who hates going into work on a daily basis may have episodic acute stress around work. They think about (and stress out about) their upcoming day during the night, morning, and even throughout the day.
People who worry continuously (focus on the future) also experience episodic acute stress. These types of people are focused on the next big disaster in regards to their relationship, work, or something else, and they stay in a perpetual state of emotional stress because of it.
3. Chronic Stress
This is when a person consistently feels stressed about everything. Work, relationships, and finances are a constant concern for someone who suffers from chronic stress, and they feel the demands and pressures at every turn because of the constant stress that they are living with.
Often people who suffer from chronic stress see no hope, and their mindset because more pessimistic to the point where depression can set in. Stress becomes a way of life, not something that they are suffering with, and it becomes hard to see that living without chronic stress is even possible.
Good Stress Vs Bad Stress
Can stress be good for the body? Absolutely! Stress happens to even the most positive and mindful people. However, their type of stress is usually positive stress that forces them to move out of their comfort zone and reach for goals that they want to achieve.
Positive stress is called eustress, and it helps people to adapt, move forward, and learn new things. It is the motivator or cheerleader behind everyday changes, and while it can get your heart pumping, it goes away once you take the step you need to take or achieve the task you need to achieve.
For instance, getting up and speaking in public can be a eustress. It can be scary, but the stress encourages you to prepare yourself accordingly so that your fears of looking like an idiot don’t come true. Once you get in front of the audience, the stress is usually relieved slightly. And, after the presentation, full relief sets in and a sense of accomplishment is felt.
That is a sharp contrast to distress, which is bad stress that causes mental, emotional, and physical issues to occur. Bad stress is lingering and starts to become too much to cope with. It doesn’t go away easily, and it affects many areas of our lives, including decision making, relationships, and overall happiness.
Techniques To Relieve Stress
What is good for stress relief? Well, because most bad stress comes from worrying about the future or reliving the past, being mindful and living in the moment is one of the best techniques to relieve stress. To do this, focusing on the senses, such as sight, touch, and hearing can help you to stay in the present moment and focus on what is happening.
For instance, on vacation, we tend to be very mindful as we pay attention to the new sounds, smells, and sights. We live in the moment easily because we are so curious about what is happening around us. Adopting a vacation mentality in our daily life is very beneficial for relieving stress.
Self-compassion is also very important for stress relief. It allows us to forgive ourselves when mistakes are made and remember that we are not perfect. Harsh expectations are removed and replaced with self-love, which helps to alleviate stress and keep us in a state of positive well-being.
Seeking continuous self-growth is also important to help relieve stress. As you go through life, and continuously reach for new goals, stress doesn’t have a chance to set in. Since most stress is caused by being stuck in a negative mindset of worry, regret, or anxiety, self-growth allows us to continuously become happier and more fulfilled – a place where stress just doesn’t reside.
In conclusion, stress is a part of life. It can be a good thing and help us get organized and reach our goals; however, it can also be a bad thing and cause us to get stuck in a state of unhappiness and poor health. Having a positive mindset and living in the moment are the two biggest enemies of stress, and adopting them into our life is essential to living a stress-free life.
Please feel free to share your stories or concerns about stress! If you are stuck in a stressful situation, or if you have overcome a stressful situation, your story can help others deal with their own stress.
P.S. If you want to find out how stressed you are right now, take the stress test. This stress quiz assessment will give you the insight you need to recognize what kind of stress is occurring in your life and allow you to move forward.
Allen Wei is someone who believes in living his best life, focusing on balance, happiness, and relaxation. He fosters a positive lifestyle in terms of his body, mind, and environment, and he is a huge proponent of learning to be balanced via relaxation techniques integrated into our busy lives.