The basics of stress 

What is stress?

Stress – a six-letter word that most of us dread, and want to get rid of it. Everyone desires a stress-free life. We all face and deal with stressful situations & circumstances in our lives. Some people face it on a regular basis, whereas some people deal with it from time to time. Stress impacts our physical and mental health up to a great extent; simultaneously our physical and mental health affects our stress level as well. 

Stress can be categorized and identified into two types: Negative stress and Positive stress. Negative stress is termed as bad stress or distress, whereas positive stress is known as good stress or eustress. Eustress can actually be beneficial for you, as it has the potential to help in the areas of focus, attention, energy, motivation, and performance. On the other hand, distress leads to anxiety, disturbed sleep & diet, irritability, fatigue, and poor performance. Negative stress can also cause disturbances in interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships. If not addressed or worked upon, distress can cause severe issues as well. 

Signs and symptoms of stress

Stress can be short-term (i.e. acute) or long-term (i.e. chronic). Both have various signs and symptoms that can take a serious toll on our physical and mental health. Some common physical, psychological, and emotional signs of stress include:-

  • Mood swings
  • Sweaty or clammy palms
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Disturbed sleep and diet
  • Digestive problems
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety
  • Depression 
  • Getting sick frequently
  • Often feeling low in energy
  • Headaches
  • Trembling
  • Racing or pounding heart (rapid heartbeat)
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Muscle tension and pain
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Poor problem-solving
  • Continuously over-thinking about one or more stressors
  • Fear of the stressor not going away
  • Imbalance in interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships 
  • Behavioral changes, such as isolation, social withdrawal, feelings of sadness and frustration, emotionally unstable, etc.

 Causes or sources of stress

Stress can be caused due to various factors. Workplace, financial conditions, relationships, parenting, and day-to-day inconveniences are few main sources of stress. There is a distinction between stressors and stress. Stressors can be any person, places, situations, or circumstances that cause stress; whereas, stress refers to the response to one or a combination of stressors. Stress can be caused by various situations and circumstances, such as:-

  • Increased workload
  • Job insecurity
  • Job or career dissatisfaction
  • Conflicts at workplace with boss or co-workers
  • Workplace harassment
  • Financial loss or strain
  • Anxiety about finances
  • Arguments with loved ones over money
  • Conflicts and issues in interpersonal relationships
  • Conflicts and arguments in a romantic relationship
  • Abusive relationship
  • Lack of communication with partner
  • Lack of intimacy and sex in a romantic, or marital relationship
  • Divorce
  • Loss of a loved one
  • Being bullied or discriminated
  • Parenting stress
  • Day-to-day stressors
  • Health issues
  • Being too busy to have sufficient time for ourselves, etc.

 How to identify stress?

At times, stress can be easily identified. But, sometimes stress and its cause or source can be hard to recognize. In such situation, pay attention to some signs that will help you in understanding that you are dealing with stress in your life. The signs or effects that you can look out for include:-

  • Physical signs such as disturbed sleep, digestive issues, high blood pressure, headaches, changes in weight, being sick frequently, irregular menstrual cycle, etc.
  • Emotional signs such as irritability, getting moody, angry, or frustrated, etc.
  • Psychological signs such as anxiety, depression, confusion, memory issues, overthinking, being anxious, concentration & focus issues, etc.
  • Behavioral signs such as lack of self-care, loss of interest in hobbies, not making time for the things you enjoy, frequent intake of drugs and alcohol as coping mechanisms, etc. 

 Types of stress

There are different types of stress that you might deal with, such as:-

  • Acute stress:  This refers to short-term type of stress. It can either be positive or distressing. We often deal with this type of stress in our day-to-day life. 
  • Chronic stress:  This refers to long-term type of stress. In this case, it seems like there is no end to the stress and it’s inescapable. Causes of chronic stress can be a terrible marriage, a bad relationship, or an extremely exhausting & taxing job; traumatic experiences and childhood trauma can also be the root cause of chronic stress. This type of stress impacts us negatively up to great extent.
  • Eustress:  This refers to the positive type of stress, which can be quite fun and exciting. This type of stress helps in keeping you motivated, focused, and energized. 

Stress can have a negative impact on your mind and body. This causes obstacles and hindrances to live a peaceful life. If it gets too tough to manage stress, then you should definitely take help from a mental health professional. 

 Psychologists as mental health care providers plays a major role in understanding biological, behavioural and social factors that influences mental health and physical wellbeing. Dr. (Prof) R K Suri, Senior Clinical Psychologist at Psychowellness Center ( ), is a trained professional clinical psychologist, having more than 36 years of experience in all kinds of mental health issues and related therapeutic interventions. 

Furthermore, TalkToAngel ( ) online mental health services under him put your needs first. They can help you with flexible appointments, personalized and customized intervention plans all at the tip of your fingers.