How Stressed Am I?
By: Lorena A. Rosenbaum, Ph.D., LPC
Being stressed is something we hear frequently, however let’s begin by defining what stress is. First of all, stress is the result of a stressor causing a reaction which results in strain. I will further explain the meaning down below. In addition to providing more information, if you are wondering how stressed you are, you can click on the button above to take the quiz!
How Does Stress Affect Me?
When we experience stress our body begins to prepare for “danger”. Meaning, our body reacts by what is known as the fight or flight response. I am sure you have heard of this term, but if you haven’t let me explain. Furthermore, the fight or flight response is the body’s reaction to a stressor (something that caused the stress). Regardless of the source of stress, our body’s physiology reacts in the same manner. The body reaction includes increased heart rate, serum cholesterol, blood pressure, and respiration. Due to constant high levels of stress, serious health problems can arise. Finally, stress reaction is summed in a three-phase process known as the general adaptation syndrome.
1. Alarm. This stage is when you are first exposed to the stressor, meaning you become aware and as a result, you begin to experience physiological changes.
2. Resistance. During this phase, the alarm reaction characteristics begin to disapear and you begin to attempt to respond to the stressor.
3. Exhaustion. The final phase includes long-continued exposure to the same stressor. Your body begins to adjust itself, however your energy will soon be exhausted. The alarm reaction symptoms reappear but now the they are irreversible.
There are two types of stress responses. Eustress, when something good occurs and alternative distress something negative. Both types of stress responses demonstrate similar physiological signs.
Due to our fast paced lives, many times we do not pay attention to our bodies and disregard major signals that it gives us. I remember attending doctorate school, and saying I was fine. However, my body was telling me something different. I had constant tension headaches in addition to frequent neck strain. Wanting to feel better, I decided to go visit several doctors yet all of the results came out normal. Finally I realize I was stressed, extremely stressed!.
- Upset stomach
- Muscular tenstion
- Teeth grinding
- Tightness in chest
- Decrease interest
- Feeling nervous
Causes of Stress
There are many reasons one may feel stressed yet we do not take the time to figure out what those causes are. Many times it may be an accumulation of circumstances, but the main problem is not dealing with the first stressor. When we lack self awareness or ignore important signs, the stress level we remain at a high level hence having a bigger impact on your health. The following are a few causes of stress or stressors.
- Relationship conflict
- Health problems
- Low self-esteem
- Loss of a job
How Can I Reduce My Stress
First of all you want to take time to identify your stressors. If you do not know what causes you stress, how will you be able to change it? You can purchase “Exploring My Work and Home Stressor,” here. After identifying your stressors, identify the problem. Is the stressors caused due to something you have control over? For example if your main stressor was finance, what are things you can do to decrease the level of stress? Get another job, create a budget, etc…
In addition, you need to know what coping skills help you reduce the stress. You can do this by thinking of a time that you felt stressed, and identifying what helped you calm down. When you begin to feel stressed, how to do you manage it? A few coping skills include
- deep breathing
- taking a nap
Make a list of what helps you stay calm and implement those skills.