Stress is an inescapable response to life’s hardships, such as financial woes, relationship disputes, workplace demands, and internal conflict. Everybody encounters stressful situations in their lives, from the time they wake up until they go to sleep.
Many people can handle stressful situations with ease, while others need to exercise restraint when under intense pressure. But not all stress is bad. In fact, a certain amount of stress can prove beneficial to those who can harness it for the better. Some people cannot handle stress. They may shut down mentally, emotionally, and physically or resort to substance abuse to cope with the problem. This only compounds the effects of stress, leaving the sufferer at the mercy of their own willpower. Fortunately, there are more effective methods for coping with stress and having better mental health and wellness for a stress free life.
Facts on Stress
Modern living has many people reporting that they are under chronic stress more than ever before. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), one out of five Americans reported feeling “extreme” stress in 2012. Chronic stress impacts the body by manifesting in one of several physical side effects, such as nervousness, heart palpitations, and depression. It has become a real epidemic that must be addressed. Dealing with stress may not be as easy as it sounds. Studies have shown that the human body cannot differentiate between the stressful situations experienced in traffic jams and the arduous process of divorce. The bombardment of stressful situations has left many people “immune” to the effects of stress. Knowing the effects of stress and finding solutions for dealing with it can literally save lives.
- Stress Symptoms, Signs, and Causes: Use this guide to recognize the signs and symptoms of stress overload.
- All About Stress: Discover the symptoms of stress and ways to overcome it.
- Stress: The Different Kinds of Stress: The APA shares the different kinds of stress that negatively affect people.
- What is Stress?: Stress can have a negative impact on anyone, especially for those who do not know how to manage it properly.
- Facts on Stress (PDF): Learn about the major causes, symptoms, and ways to reduce stress.
- You Are Not Alone: Common Facts About Stress: Find out if you are one of the millions of people who suffer from the effects of stress.
- Quick Facts About Stress: A summary covering the effects of stress if left unaddressed.
- Toxic Stress: The Facts: An educational page addressing the body’s response to toxic stress.
Countless studies have shown that work-related stress affects more Americans than any other kind of stressful situation. Statistically, work-related stress has escalated progressively over the past few decades. Increased levels of work-related stress may lead to an increased chance of heart attack, hypertension, and other disorders. Work-related stress impacts people differently. Some people thrive in environments with high demand, whereas others need a more laid-back atmosphere to get anything accomplished. It all depends on the perception of the worker, which makes job-related stress difficult to assess.
- Workplace Stress: A fact sheet covering the warning signs of stress in the workplace and ways to deal with it.
- Stress in the Workplace: A Costly Epidemic: An article that traces the roots of stress in the workplace and how it has grown to epidemic proportions.
- Managing Work-Related Stress: An educational page offering tips and strategies for managing stress levels in the workplace.
- What Makes a Workplace Stressful?: Uncover the underlying roots of workplace stress.
- Workplace Stress: What is Workplace Stress: An educational page identifying the signs, symptoms, and causes of excessive workplace stress.
- Stress Management in Work Settings (PDF): An extensive document for employers and employees interested in effective stress management.
- Financial Costs of Job Stress: Employers should consider introducing an effective stress management program to help offset the costs of work-related stress.
- The Workplace Stress Scale (PDF): Take this assessment to rank the level of stress at your workplace.
- The Effects of Stress in the Workplace: Workplace stress affects both the employee and employer.
What Stress Does to the Human Body
Not all stress is bad. Humans have an instinctual stress response mechanism that helps them survive in life-threatening situations. The chemicals released during stressful times prepare the body to face a threat or flee to safety. When faced with a dangerous situation, many people notice that they start breathing heavier, their pulse quickens, muscles tense, and the brain uses more oxygen to increase movement. Chronic stress produces an opposite effect by reducing all of the functions aimed at survival. The body responds to chronic stress in the form of headaches, sleeplessness, depression, mood swings, and irritability. People under chronic stress may even have lowered immunity to viral infections.
- Q&A on Stress for Adults: How It Affects Your Health and What You Can Do About It: Find out about the effects of stress on the human body and ways to mitigate it.
- Stress Substantially Slows Down the Human Body’s Ability to Heal: A study suggests that stress impedes the human body’s ability to heal wounds by at least one day.
- “Fight or Flight” Stress Response: Stress activates the natural “fight or flight” response in humans.
- Stress on the Brain: An educational page describing the effects of stress on the human brain.
- How Stress Affects Your Body (PDF): An extensive document that explains how stress affects the human body.
- The Effect of Stress on Physical Health: HowStuffWorks explains the ill effects of stress on physical health.
- The Physical Effects of Long-Term Stress: Chronic stress can have a serious impact on the physical health of human beings, especially if left unaddressed.
- The Physiology of Stress: Cortisol and the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis: A biological overview of stress on the human body.
- The Body-Mind Connection of Stress (PDF): Educators can use this lesson plan to teach students about the effects of stress on the mind and body.
Positive Ways to Manage Stress
The effects of stress accumulate over time. Many people neglect to find ways to reduce their stress levels without resorting to drugs and alcohol. Taking practical steps to reduce stress levels can prevent these effects from taking hold. Stress can cause a lot of problems if left unaddressed; however, seeking a qualified professional can prevent these effects from boiling over. Sufferers who see a decline in their mental, emotional, and physical well-being should start to do stress-free activities to keep their minds clear. Avoid dwelling on problems, and talk to somebody if the stress becomes overwhelming. Explore stress-reduction programs that incorporate meditation, yoga, tai chi, and other gentle exercises to regain peace of mind.
- Four Ways to Deal with Stress: Use these four simple techniques to deal with stress.
- Helping Kids Cope with Stress: Kids suffer from stress, too.
- How Do You Cope With Stress? (PDF): Use this checklist to discover the best ways to cope with stress.
- Unit 9: Coping with Stress (PDF): A comprehensive document that defines stress, its symptoms, and coping strategies to make life easier.
- Healthy Ways to Handle Stress: Address stress in every facet of your life to regain control.
- Seattle Pacific University: Healthy Ways to Cope With Stress: Use these coping mechanisms to lessen your stress levels.
- The Counselor: Techniques to Manage Stress in a Positive Way (PDF): A document that focuses on helping people manage their stress before it leaves a lasting negative impact on them.
- 101 Ways to Cope with Stress (PDF): Find some peace of mind with some of the suggestions found on this list of coping strategies to reduce stress.
- Carroll College: Healthy Ways to Handle Stress: Follow these short– and long-term methods for handling stress.
Other Stress Management Resources
- Stress, Positive or Negative?: Choose any of these stress-free methods to regain peace of mind.
- Stress Management Health Centre: The Effects of Stress on Your Body: WebMD describes the symptoms and effects of stress on the human body.
- For the Employer: Managing Workplace Stress: Employers can help mitigate workplace stress with stress management programs and policies.
- Tapped Out Teens: 4 Stress Relief Strategies That Work: Use these four stress relief strategies to regain control of your life.
- Holistic Stress Management for Nurses: Nurses can use these holistic stress management strategies in their off time to regain peace of mind.
- Stress Reduction Activities for Students (PDF): Teachers can incorporate these stress – reduction activities to reduce tension in the classroom.
- 7 Ways to Reduce Stress: Dr. Oz shares seven ways to reduce stress while at work or home.
- 37 Stress Management Tips From the Experts: Use these 37 stress management tips when things start to get hectic.
By Angela Lambert