Stress is the body’s reaction to change, resulting in physical, emotional, and intellectual responses. The terms stress and anxiety are used interchangeably, but they are slightly different: stress is caused by a specific, existing stressor, while anxiety is stress that persists after the source of stress has been removed. Stress can be beneficial in small doses, such as helping a person escape danger or achieve a deadline. However, continuous stress can be harmful to one’s health. 

There are two sorts of stress:

  • Acute stress: This short-term stress goes away quickly. It helps manage dangerous circumstances and tends to happen in situations such as slamming on the brakes or having a fight with a spouse.
  • Chronic stress: This stress lasts for a longer period of time. Health problems may arise if chronic stress, such as having financial problems or unhappy marriage, is not managed.

Identifying stressors is important. Stressors can vary according to stages of life — a child will have different stressors than a teenager, and a student will have different stressors than a youth who completed his studies. Stressors can also differ between men and women. 

What causes stress

Stress can be caused by a variety of different common life events, many of which are difficult to avoid. For example,

  • Personal: Illness or injury, becoming a parent, bereavement
  • Friends and family: Break-up or divorce, difficult relationships with family or friends
  • Employment and study: New job, job loss, long-term unemployment, retirement, exams, and deadlines
  • Shelter: Poor living conditions, lack of security, homelessness, problems with neighbors
  • Finance: Worries about money or benefits, poverty, debt

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on our lives. Many of us are facing extraordinary difficulties that can be stressful or upsetting and can evoke powerful emotions in both adults and children. Public health measures like social separation are required to stop COVID-19 from spreading, but they can make people feel lonely, as well as cause stress.   

Caused by stress

  • Feelings of fear, anger, sadness, numbness, or frustration
  • Changes in appetite, energy, and interests
  • Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping or nightmares
  • Headaches, body pains, stomach problems, and skin rashes
  • Worsening of chronic and mental health problems
  • Increased use of tobaccoalcohol, and other substances

Healthy ways to cope with stress

Stress can be managed by taking the help of loved ones, exercising regularly, meditating, or using other relaxation techniques, taking organized timeouts, and adopting new coping strategies to create regularity in our life. For more extreme cases, it could be beneficial to seek a therapist or counselor.

Some tips to manage stress include:

  • Take breaks from the news, including those on social media. It’s good to be informed, but hearing about the pandemic and other upsetting news constantly can be upsetting. 
  • Take deep breaths, do stretching and slight exercises 
  • Eat healthy, well-balanced meals
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and substance use
  • Continue with routine preventive measures
  • Get vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine when available
  • Try to do some other enjoyable activities.
  • Connect with others whom one can trust about their concerns and how someone is feeling
  • Connect with community-based organizations – communicate online, through social media, by phone, or by mail

Talk to your family doctor if you’re concerned about your stress. Your doctor can help assess your symptoms, rule out other possible causes, and help guide you to cope with stress more effectively.

Want to talk to a Praava doctor about stress or anxiety? Book a consultation to talk to a doctor either online or in person.

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