You look at the clock and then look back down to your screen. The cursor blinks at you as if it's begging you to start typing. Your shoulders begin to tense up knowing that your deadline is coming up and you are far from completing it. With the sound of the clock ticking, ideas start to flow, and this project becomes effortless.
Stress, like anxiety, is a normal part of life. It comes and goes depending on the situation. The phenomenon can be beneficial since it is a pathway to enter a "flow state."
There are two types of instances where people find themselves feeling stressed:
- Situations or events that put pressure on us, such as tight deadlines on a big project at work.
- Our reaction to being placed under pressure, such as completing or failing tasks due to a tight deadline.
As stated before, stress can be healthy. Being under pressure can revitalize you and give you an edge. However, high-levels of stress occurring on a regular basis can be harmful to your health.
What are the Three Types of Stress?
According to flushinghospital.org, stress is categorized into three categories, and the severity ranges with each one. The three types are:
1. Acute Stress
Acute stress can occur when a challenge, a perceived threat, or something unexpected happens. Examples of this include: getting a speeding ticket, having an argument with a spouse, giving a speech. This type of stress can cause irritability, anxiety, sweating, headaches, stomach pains, or a rapid heartbeat.
2. Episodic Acute Stress
Episodic acute stress is a result of frequent acute stress. Furthermore, this can also develop from taking on too much responsibility. Those who worry a lot are more prone to experiencing this type of stress. This type of stress can cause symptoms similar to acute stress, but they occur more often. Left unmanaged, symptoms can lead to clinical depression or heart disease.
3. Chronic Stress
Chronic stress occurs when constant stress persists over an extended period of time. This is the type of stress is most harmful to our overall health. Poverty, abuse of any kind, poor work environment, dysfunctional family, and unhealthy marriage are causes for chronic stress. If left untreated for an extended period can result in serious health problems such as insomnia, obesity, heart disease, hypertension, or diabetes.
Symptoms of Chronic Stress
Additionally, chronic stress can cause physical problems in addition to its toll on your mental health. When Stress occurs, our "fight or flight" response activates to help the body face stressful situations. Over time, the continuous activation of this response will cause wear and tear on our bodies. Thus, physical and mental symptoms develop, which include:
- Aches and pains
- Chest pain
- Exhaustion or trouble sleeping
- Headaches, dizziness, shaking
- High blood pressure
- Muscle tension
- Stomach problems
- Trouble having sex
- Weak immune system
- Panic attacks
How is Stress Diagnosed?
Stress is subjective because it is not measurable with tests. A professional may use a questionnaire to understand how stress affects the individual's daily life. While mental health professionals cannot diagnose stress, they can evaluate the symptoms of chronic stress and provide help to relieve the symptoms.
What are some stress relief strategies?
Stress stems from the situations one is experiencing. While stress cannot be measured, there are many ways to find relief. Some of these strategies include:
- Meditation practices
- Surround yourself with people who help you relax
- Talk Therapy
Stress is a natural part of life, and there are many resources available to help you mitigate the effects of stress. As mentioned above, left untreated, stress can cause some severe consequences. When in doubt, talk to your doctor to better understand coping with stress.