What is stress?
Stress is a natural part of life. Your life will contain different events that create stress. Stress can be positive in the form of eustress (e.g., a coach motivating a player to perform), or it can be negative in the form of distress (financial stress or health concerns). Below is a short list of factors that impact how someone views stress:
- Socioeconomic status
- Level of support
These factors can have significant impacts not only on how stress is viewed but also on how it is managed.
What are different forms of stress?
Stress comes in all shapes and forms. There are normal day-to-day stressors, and then there are catastrophic stressors. If someone has experienced catastrophic stress, they may need more immediate support than someone who has experienced day-to-day stress.
What are the negative effects of stress?
Research has shown that over time, stress can negatively impact different aspects of one's health. Stress causes the human body to release cortisol, which then alters a person's immunity, digestion, cognitive function, and other natural body processes. Stress manifests in each person differently. The following are common ways stress manifests itself:
- Difficulty with concentration
- Challenges with sleep
- Appetite and sleep disturbances
- Gastrointestinal symptoms
Stress Management Strategies
Every person is different in how they manage their stress and what works best for them. It can take time and patience to find the most effective strategies. For many people, maintaining a healthy diet, obtaining adequate amounts of sleep, and engaging in physical exercise can help reduce stress. Below are a few methods to manage stress from an alternative medicine approach:
- Deep breathing exercises
- Progressive muscle relaxation
- Chiropractic care
- Massage therapy
- Qi gong
- Tai Chi
What are other treatments available for stress?
Psychotherapy, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), can be helpful in teaching cognitive and behavioral methods to manage stress. If the stressful event has elements of trauma, specific trauma therapy may be necessary. This includes Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT). At times, a person may need to be prescribed medication(s) to help manage severe stress symptoms.