As Dr. David Orme –Johnson(1995) said “the best thing we can do to reduce stress in the world is reduce it in ourselves.”(n.p.). Each of us has had some unpleasant situations in his life. The notion of stress differs from person to person, it can be powerful or slightly noted, durable or fast. They say stress is even useful for human organism. Counseling & Mental Health Center at The University of Texas (2004) says: “Stress adds flavor, challenge and opportunity to life. Without stress, life would be dull and unexciting.
However, too much stress can seriously affect your physical and mental well-being. Recurrent physical and psychological stress can diminish self-esteem, decrease interpersonal and academic effectiveness and create a cycle of self-blame and self-doubt. It is important for your health that you find the optimal level of stress that you can learn to manage effectively.” (n.p.) As Arne Anderson (2005) says: “Stress is first and foremost a necessary part of our lives. Without it, boredom sets in; too much of it can be overwhelming and exhausting.”(n.p.). But in our mind the notion “stress” has got a negative character. So, what the stress is?
“Virtua Stress” investigators(2004) distinguish the following factors that can cause stress:
“-minor irritants: Traffic jams, oversleeping or car problems
-major life events: Moving, changing jobs and getting married or divorced
-ongoing problems: Chronic money problems, health issues or relationship difficulties “ (n. p.)
Stress is a normal response of the body and mind. Everyone feels stress when gearing up to deal with major life events (such as marriage, divorce, births, deaths, or starting or ending a job) or handling everyday hassles like arguments, financial headaches, deadlines, or traffic jams. Physical signs of a stress are the following:
· Rapid heartbeat
· Stomach aches
· Muscle tension
Emotional signs of stress can be both positive and upsetting:
Repeated stress drains and wears down your body and mind. Stress is like starting a car engine or pushing the accelerator pedal to speed up. If you keep revving up the car, you’ll burn out the starter and wear out both the brakes and the engine.
Burnout occurs when repeated stress is not balanced by healthy time outs for genuine relaxation. Stress need not be a problem if you manage it by smoothly and calmly entering or leaving life’s fast lane.
Stress Management involves responding to major life events and everyday hassles by relaxing as well as tensing up. Relaxation actually is a part of the normal stress response. When faced with life’s challenges, people not only tense up to react rapidly and forcefully, but they also become calm in order to think clearly and act with control.
One of the most important questions one can have while managing stress if stress can become unmanageable. Trauma can cause severe stress, which may become unmanageable despite the best efforts of good stress management. Let’s look at why this happens and what you can do about it.
Traumatic events cause severe stress reactions that are particularly hard to manage. Trauma involves a unique kind of physical/emotional shock that escalates the “fight-flight” stress response (feeling angry or scared) into “super-stress” (feeling terrified, stunned, horrified, like your life is passing before your eyes, or so overwhelmed you blank out).
Trauma occurs when a person directly experiences or witnesses:
-Severe physical injury or suffering
-Close calls with death or injury
If you have ever experienced or witnessed war, disaster, a terrible accident, sexual or physical abuse or assault, kidnapping or hostage-taking, or life-threatening illnesses, you know the shock of trauma. Nothing in life ever seems quite the same again, even if everything works out for the best. Trauma leaves a lasting imprint of terror, horror, and helplessness on the body and the mind. The world no longer seems safe, manageable, or enjoyable. People no longer seem trustworthy or dependable. Self-doubt and guilt eat away at your self-esteem. Faith and spirituality are shaken or lost.
Traumatic stress can be managed, but special steps are necessary.
Step One is recognizing the signs of posttraumatic stress. Trauma is so shocking that it causes memories that are impossible to forget or sometimes impossible to recall. Trauma memories often repeatedly come back when you are not trying to think about them. Memories arise as unpleasant thoughts or nightmares. Sometimes you may feel as if you cannot stop reliving the event. The shock of trauma also may create blank spaces in your memory because it is too much for the mind to handle, and so the mind takes a time out.
Traumatic stress reactions are normal responses to abnormal events. Most people experience posttraumatic stress reactions for days or even weeks after a trauma. Usually these reactions become less severe over time, but they may persist and become a problem.
Step Two is recognizing the ways of coping with traumatic stress that are natural but don’t work, because they actually prolong and worsen the normal posttraumatic stress reactions. The ways of coping that do not work include:
-Trying to avoid people, places, or thoughts that are reminders
-Shutting off feelings or connections to other people that are reminders
-Being hyper-vigilant or on guard
Trying to avoid bad memories, trying to shut out feelings or people, or trying to stay always alert may seem reasonable. However, they don’t work because trauma controls your life if you run from it.
Step Three is to get help from one of several special VA services for veterans (and their families) who are coping with traumatic stress reactions or PTSD (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder). Trauma memories cannot be erased, but the stress they cause can become very manageable.
Stress is the internal or external force that causes a person to become tense, upset or anxious. Distress is negative stress that may causes illness. For example, job stress is also a very widespread one. A Gallup Poll(2005) found that 80 percent of workers feel stress on the job, and nearly half reported that they needed help in learning how to manage it.”(n.p.) What we usually call stress may be better called distress. Eustress is positive stress that stimulates a person to function better. Burnout is a state of exhaustion that results from repeated emotional pressure. Our bodies try to keep in balance (homeostasis), but stress may upset that balance.
Stress is either acute (short-term) or chronic. People with chronic stress, such as ongoing conflicts, respond less well to many vaccines, and are more likely to develop colds, memory loss, heart attacks, strokes, problems with their immune system, digestive problems, headaches, ulcers and have some types of obesity.
Researchers now categorize people as either hot or cool responders to stress. Cool responders responded less to higher cortisol levels than hot responders. Cool responders just do not react to stress as much as hot responders. Women, children, young adults, divorced and separated persons tend to have higher stress levels. Men, married people, and individuals between ages 55 and 64 tend to have lower stress levels.
The body reacts to stress by secreting two types of chemical messengers – hormones in the blood and neurotransmitters in the brain. Scientists think that some of the neurotransmitters may be the same or similar chemicals as the hormones but acting in a different capacity.
Stressors are the pressures from the inside or the outside that cause stress. Stress is your response to these stressors. Some common stressors are anger, conflicts, illnesses, violence, money difficulties, job problems, tests, tense relationships, competition, changes and losses.
Techniques for managing stress include:
-Body and mental relaxation
Physical benefits of managing stress include:
-Better sleep, energy, strength, and mobility
-Reduced tension, pain, blood pressure, heart problems, and infectious illnesses
Emotional benefits of managing stress include:
-Increased quality of life and well-being
-Reduced anxiety, depression, and irritability
Peter Delves Associates say(2005) “Stress should be treated like any other health hazard”(n.p.) Stress is best taken care of right away actively and effectively. Deal with the immediate issue first, be optimistic, see things in the context of a larger positive plan that makes sense to you, and recognize that troubles are temporary. Don’t blame yourself needlessly. Meditate, pray, relax one muscle at a time, and ever so often enjoy a massage.
Break the stress cycle. By doing some short-term stress-relief, you break the stress cycle that can spin out of control. If you do not relief the immediate stress, the stress may keep on accumulating until it becomes too great to bear. Stress can lead to burnout, workaholic and adjustment disorders, posttraumatic stress disorders, and diseases related to the cardiovascular, immune and digestive systems.
Recognize stress as a normal part of living. Everyone faces it to some degree. The causes of stress can be good or bad; desirable or undesirable, such as a promotion on the job or the loss of a spouse. Properly handled, stress need not be a problem. But unhealthy responses to stress, such as driving too fast or erratically, drinking too much, or prolonged anger or grief, can cause a variety of physical and mental problems. Even on a very busy day, find a few minutes to slow down and relax. Talking over a problem with someone you trust can often help you find a satisfactory solution. Learn to distinguish between things that are worth fighting about and things that are less important.
Think about the times in your life when you’ve felt stress: maybe while giving a presentation at work, worrying about your children, racing to meet a deadline, or arguing with your spouse. Remember how your heart was pounding and you were breathing harder? People with heart failure need to avoid that kind of physical response to stress. Emotional stress and anxiety make the heart work harder, which can make symptoms worse. That’s why patients and their caregivers should work together to keep stress under control.
Naturally, people with heart failure feel anxious about their diagnosis and what might happen to them or their families. And everyone has certain stress-causing “triggers” — things such as rush-hour traffic, a demanding boss, finances or family conflict. No one can control all of these challenges, but there are ways to cope with them better. Here are 12 good strategies for reducing stress. Use them if you have heart failure, or pass them along to a loved one who does.
1. Talk with family, friends, clergy or other trusted advisers about your concerns and stresses and ask for their support. One of the main things one must remember while managing stress that, according to Loyola University Health System (2005): “Remember, no one can do it all alone, so ask for help”. (n.p.)
2. Take 15 to 20 minutes a day to sit quietly, breathe deeply and think of a peaceful scene.
3.Learn to accept things you can’t change. You don’t have to solve all of life’s problems.
4.Count to 10 before answering or responding when you feel angry.
5.Don’t use smoking, drinking, overeating, drugs or caffeine to cope with stress. These make things worse.
6.Look for the good in situations instead of the bad.
7.Exercise regularly. Do something you enjoy, like walking, swimming, jogging, golfing, walking a pet, tai chi or cycling. Check with your doctor to determine what activity level is right for you.
8.Think ahead about what may upset you and try to avoid it. For example, spend less time with people who bother you. If you’re still working or volunteering, cut back on your hours and adjust your schedule to avoid driving in rush-hour traffic. According to Benjamin Libby (1987) “The same event can be distressful at one time and stimulating or non-stressful at another.”(n.p.) So, try to change the most it’s possible the circumstances you live in.
9.Plan productive solutions to problems. For example, talk with your neighbor if the dog next door bothers you, and set clear limits on how much you’ll do for family members.
10. Learn to say no. Don’t promise too much. Give yourself enough time to get things done.
11. Join a support group … maybe for people with heart disease, for women, for men, for retired persons, or some other group with which you identify.
12. Seek out a mental health professional or counselor if you can’t cope on your own. Helping people is their specialty. Ask your doctor, family or friends for recommendations. If they can’t help, ask your spiritual leader or a hospital social worker for some names.
Also , there are some other not very traditional for American and European people methods. For, example, Women magazine online(2005) proposes such a method as yoga: “…yoga is actually a group of therapies, the most popular being Hatha yoga, which uses a combination of body postures and breathing techniques. Women practice yoga say it promotes relaxation, flexibility and overall feeling of well-being.”(n.p.) Also you can use: “Music therapy, pet therapy, aromatherapy and acupuncture. All which have proven to be helpful to different people.”(n.p.) The same source (2005) speak about” The Quick Fix” : there is often no time for any of these things mentioned above. Try “just taking 30 seconds, closing your eyes, taking a long deep breath in through the nose and excel slowly from the mouth. “ Besides, ”Bending and touching your toes. Twisting at the waist. Rolling your head. You will be amazed at what these small things can do to alleviate enough stress so that you may continue with the task at hand, having a bit clearer mind and sharper thought process.” (n.p.)
Usually, we experience stress in response to a threat. Tim Handle (2004) says “The threat can be real, such as a near-miss car accident, or imagined, such as an intense fear that you will embarrass yourself when you give a toast at a wedding.” . When we are stressed, our body releases stress hormones such as coritsol, adrenaline, epinephrine, and norepinephrine into the blood stream. We tense up and brace ourselves. Our heart pounds and muscles stiffen. We may tremble or sweat. This physical response to stress is known as the “fight or flight” response.
The fight or flight response can help us get through a crisis. But, if we experience the fight or flight response repeatedly, for a long period, it can negatively impact our mental and physical health. Chronic, excessive stress has been associated with increased risk for numerous diseases and health problems, including
-alcohol and drug dependencies
-asthma, allergies, and skin diseases
-depressed immune system/increased likelihood of colds and infections
-depression and suicide
-headaches (migraines, too)
-heart disease/heart attack
-high blood pressure
-TMJ (temporomandibular joint) syndrome
-ulcers and digestive disorders
With the following, there are relaxation techniques you can use to offset the fight or flight response.
Deep breathing calms and relaxes your body. Slowly breathe in, filling your lungs as full as possible, and let your stomach relax and expand. Hold your breath for a few seconds then, slowly, exhale until your lungs feel empty. Repeat five to 10 times. Any time you feel yourself tensing in response to stress, try deep breathing.
Progressive muscular relaxation effectively relaxes tense muscles. First, tense a major muscle group in your body (face, shoulders, arms, chest, back, stomach, buttocks, legs, and feet) hold for a few seconds then release the tension. Feel the warmth as blood flow increases in that area. Choose a second muscle group and repeat the same process. Go through all of the muscle groups in your body from head to toes. The entire process takes only a few minutes and you can immediately feel and appreciate the relaxed feeling in your body.
Gentle stretching can relax tense muscles. While sitting, tip your head slowly from side to side, then forward and back. Repeat several times. While sitting, stretch forward, letting your head and arms come forward, hold for 30 seconds, straighten up slowly, and repeat. While standing, reach as high as comfortable with both arms for 30 seconds; slowly lower arms to your side. Repeat several times. While standing slowly stretch to the side by letting one arm hang down and bending the other one over your head in the direction you are stretching. Repeat with the other side. While lying down stretch your legs out straight and at the same time reach arms over your head, hold 30 seconds. Repeat several times. You may wish to stretch other muscles in your body. Remember to stretch gently and slowly. To avoid injury, don’t strain or bounce while stretching.
Regular physical activity will condition and heal your body, increase your energy level, help control your weight, and reduce stress.
You do not have to get all 30 minutes at once. You may prefer to get 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes at noon or in the evening. You can also break up your exercise into three 10-minute blocks.
Approximately 23 million Americans (1 in 9) suffer from chronic anxiety disorders. They experience excessive, chronic worry over relationships, finances, health, or work, even when there are no immediate threats in those areas. Anxiety disorders can be effectively treated with talk therapy, medication, or a combination of both. If you believe that your stress is severe and persistent, and you are having trouble controlling it on your own, talk with your doctor. Your doctor may prescribe medication or refer you to a professional counselor who will assess your needs and help you cope and reduce excess stress. Continue to look for ways to better manage stress in your life, such as communicating effectively, eating nutritiously, and getting 30 minutes or more of physical activity every day. That way, you will be practicing powerful techniques to reduce and manage your stress load and your anxiety on your own.
Another important thing you are to remember is that about anger. Anger is one of the most negative stress factors. One can be hugely irritated or even aggressive while being in stress but that’s a great fail. Anger destroys and only worsens the human’s state. Selye H.(1956) says “Anger is one of the main enemies you are to fight in stress”. So, using the techniques mentioned above one gets a perfect possibility to recover from stress and learn managing it in future.
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