Do you feel too much emotional tension and that too much is required of you? Do not sleep well worried about exams and homework? Do you hurry because you’re too busy? You’re not alone. Everyone – adults, teenagers and even children – go through stressful times. However, there are ways to reduce it and deal with what is inevitable.
Stress is a feeling we create when we react to certain events. It is the way in which the body faces a challenge and prepares to act in a difficult situation with focus, strength, vigor and mental acuity.
The events that cause stress cover a variety of situations – from being in physical danger to making a presentation in class or taking a semester with the most difficult subject.
The human body responds to these situations by activating the nervous system and certain hormones. The hypothalamus sends signals to the adrenal glands to produce more adrenaline and cortisol and send these hormones into the bloodstream. These hormones increase heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure and metabolism. The blood vessels widen to allow more blood circulation to the muscles, putting them on alert. The pupils dilate to improve vision. The liver releases part of the stored glucose to increase the body’s energy. And the body produces sweat to cool down. All these physical changes prepare the person to react quickly and effectively when they feel emotional tension.
This reaction is known as a response to stress . When it works properly, this reaction is the best way for the person to function under pressure. But the response to stress can also cause problems when it is extreme.
The response to stress ( combat response or flight ) is critical in emergency situations, such as when a driver has to stop the car suddenly to avoid an accident. It is also activated in a more simple way when the person is tense, although not in danger – like when your hit can win the game; when you prepare for a party or when you are doing a final exam. A little stress of this kind can help you stay attentive, ready to face any challenge. And the nervous system returns to normal, ready to respond again when necessary.
But stress is not always a reaction to immediate or momentary things. Progressive or long-term events, such as a divorce or moving to a new neighborhood or school, can also cause stress. Long-term situations can produce a stress of low intensity, but lasting, causing difficulties for the person. The nervous system feels a continuous tension and remains relatively active in order to continue releasing additional hormones for a prolonged period of time. This can deplete the body’s reserves, causing the person to feel exhausted or overwhelmed, weakening the body’s immune system and causing other problems.
Although a sufficient amount of stress may be good, an overload is something apart – no one benefits from too much stress. For example, having a little stress because you have an exam can motivate you to study more. But when the exam causes you a lot of stress, you focus less on the subject you need to learn.
Pressures that are extremely intense, that last for a long time, or the problems that need to be faced without help, can cause an overload of stress. Here are several situations that can be overwhelming if they continue for a long time:
Sometimes the stress is extreme and needs special attention. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a very strong reaction that can occur in people who have gone through an extremely traumatic situation, such as a serious car accident, a natural disaster such as an earthquake, or an aggression such as rape.
Some people have anxiety problems that cause extreme stress reactions, turning small difficulties into major crises. If a person feels tense, angry or worried or tense frequently, they may suffer from anxiety. Anxiety problems usually need attention, and many people seek the help of a professional counselor to overcome them.
People who are going through stress overload show some of the following symptoms:
All people feel stress in a different way. Some people get angry, behaving inappropriately and taking revenge on others. Other people hide it and begin to suffer from food problems or abuse of illegal substances. People who suffer from a chronic illness also notice that the symptoms of their illness increase when they have an overload of stress.
What can you do to manage stress overload, or better yet, eliminate it? The best method to cope with stress is to learn to manage the stress that accompanies any challenge; either good or bad. The art of managing stress is perfected if it is used regularly, not only when under pressure. Knowing how to eliminate stress and doing it during calm situations can help you through difficult circumstances that may arise. Here are several suggestions that help control stress:
Have you noticed that certain people seem to adapt to difficult circumstances without getting upset? They remain calm under pressure and can solve problems as they arise. Researchers have identified the qualities that make certain people naturally resistant even when faced with stressful circumstances. If you want to increase your resistance, try to acquire these attitudes and behaviors:
Learn to think that challenges are opportunities and difficult situations are not disasters, but momentary problems. Solve problems and ask for help and advice from other people, instead of complaining and allowing stress to build up. Set your own goals and keep up with your progress. Take time to relax. Be optimistic. Believe in yourself. Breathe Allow a little bit of stress to motivate you to take positive action that will help you reach your goals.