The different types of stress

Our bodies are wonderfully and beautifully made. They are also incredibly complex systems. When something disrupts your body’s balance, it causes stress. The things that cause stress are called stressors, and how your body reacts to them is called the stress response. This response involves your nervous, hormonal, and immune systems working together. When faced with stress, your body prepares to deal with the challenge by activating certain systems, like the sympathetic-adreno-medullar (SAM) axis and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis.

The stress response is helpful when facing immediate threats, such as trauma or surgery, as it helps protect the body from further harm. However, if the stress is intense, frequent, or lasts a long time, the response can become harmful. Long-term stress can lead to issues like depression, anxiety, memory problems, and heart disease.

Not all stress is bad. Positive stress, known as eustress, can be enjoyable and motivating. It boosts energy, improves heart health, increases endurance, and sharpens thinking. On the other hand, distress is harmful and has negative effects on the body and mind.

There are different types of stress:

  • Acute: Short-term stress from immediate challenges such as getting a fright, or dropping your freshly-cooked bacon on the floor! It causes temporary physical changes like a faster heart rate and a rush of adrenaline.
  • Chronic: Long-term stress from ongoing problems, such as financial pressure, or worrying about your job, which can lead to serious health issues like heart disease, anxiety, and depression.
  • Episodic Acute: Frequent short-term stress from a hectic lifestyle, often leading to health problems and difficulties in daily life.
  • Traumatic: Stress from traumatic events like natural disasters or violence, which can cause symptoms of PTSD, such as intrusive memories and heightened alertness.
  • Environmental: Stress from challenging surroundings, like noise, pollution, or unsafe living conditions, which can harm physical and mental health
  • Psychological: Stress from emotional or mental factors, such as work pressure, academic expectations, or negative thoughts, leading to anxiety and worry.
  • Physiological: Stress from physical issues, like illness, injury, lack of sleep, or poor nutrition, which affect overall health and well-being.

Both short term and long-term stress can lead to a variety of symptoms, but chronic stress can take a serious toll on the body over time and have terrible long-lasting health effects.

Some common signs of stress include:

 

  • Changes in mood
  • Difficulty sleeping (this is very common)
  • Digestive problems
  • Grinding teeth
  • Muscle tension, especially in the neck and shoulders
  • Physical aches and pains

Stress is not a distinct medical diagnosis and there is no single, specific treatment for it. Treatment for stress focuses on changing the situation, developing stress coping skills, implementing relaxation techniques, and treating symptoms or conditions that may have been caused by chronic stress.

Medication may sometimes be prescribed to address some specific symptoms that are related to stress. Such medications may include sleep aids, antacids, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety medications. We prefer approaches such as� acupuncture, aromatherapy, massage, yoga, and meditation. We prefer the natural approach, and only turn to supplements like Calm when we need some extra help.

Recognising common signs of stress, such as mood changes, difficulty sleeping, digestive problems, and muscle tension, is important for early intervention. Although stress is not a medical diagnosis, effective management involves changing stressful situations, developing coping skills, and utilizing relaxation techniques. Therapy, medication, acupuncture, massage, and yoga, can help reduce stress levels and improve overall health. By addressing stress proactively, we can all mitigate its harmful effects and enhance our quality of life.



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