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  In our daily lives, we encounter stress or situations that have the potential to become stressful because of workload, decision-making, responsibilities, and sometimes even activities we know will benefit us personally. This article will delve into the meaning, causes, effects of stress, not forgetting stress management techniques.
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What is Stress?

The WHO defines stress as a state of worry or mental tension caused by a difficult situation. Stress may be physical, mental or emotional. It manifests as a state of mental tension, emotional strain, or physical discomfort in response to stressors.

Causes of Stress:

These stressors may arise from different sources like:
  • Work: Due to deadlines and workload.
  • Financial difficulties, including debt and unemployment.
  • Relationship problems.
  • Health concerns, like suddenly falling sick or having to care for a chronically ill loved one.
  • Major life events, such as job changes, marriage, starting a family, or major surgery.
  • Physical labor.
  • Academic overload due to exams and peer pressure.
  • Social isolation.
  • Sleep disturbances.
  • Balancing work and personal life… and more.

Effects of Stress

The effects of stress can permeate every aspect of our lives, impacting our physical health, mental well-being, and overall quality of life.
  • Physically, stress can manifest in various ways, such as headaches, muscle tension, digestive issues, and weakened immune function. Chronic stress has been linked to serious health conditions, notably hypertension.
  • Mentally and emotionally, stress can lead to heightened anxiety, irritability, mood swings, and difficulty concentrating. Prolonged stress may contribute to the development or exacerbation of mental health disorders like depression and anxiety disorders. Stress can affect our behavior and lifestyle choices. Some individuals may cope with stress by engaging in unhealthy habits like overeating, substance abuse, or social withdrawal. Others may experience disruptions in sleep patterns and appetite.

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Stress Management Techniques

  1. Exercise and physical activity

Exercise triggers the release of endorphins, often referred to as “feel-good” hormones. It also reduces stress hormones like cortisol, which are seen in chronic stress, and adrenaline, which is seen in acute stress. Exercise and physical activity improve mood and promote better sleep. Depending on your age and physical condition, make sure exercise and physical activity are not too strenuous. A jog or a walk will do!
  1. Proper Nutrition and Diet

The kind of food you eat may be a major factor in how stressed you feel. Proper foods, especially minimally processed food, help to stabilize blood sugar levels and provide essential nutrients. Additionally, sticking to a healthy, realistic diet plan will help to reduce unhealthy habits like overeating or not eating enough.
  1. Adequate Sleep

Doctors recommend a minimum of 7 hours of sleep for adults per day. Sleep helps the body to recover from physical stress and can help to dissipate feelings of anxiety, irritability, and depression. Prioritizing sleep as part of a healthy lifestyle promotes overall well-being and resilience to stress.
  1. Limiting Alcohol Intake

Alcohol causes the blood vessels to our brain to constrict, leading to hypertension. It can also lead to liver disease and increase the body’s stress hormones. All these contribute to stress.
  1. Time Management

Techniques like scheduling, to-do lists, and making appointments can help to better manage and organize time. An already planned-out day or week will boost confidence and reduce stress. While planning, always make room for rescheduling in case the need arises.
  1. Social Connections

Make social connections by:
  • Maintaining contact with family and friends.
  • Attending social events.
  • Scheduling group workout sessions.
  • Making new friends in healthy settings like the gym, book clubs, and so on.

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In summary, while stress is a constant in daily life, there are effective methods for managing it. By identifying specific stress triggers and crafting personalized strategies, individuals can regain a sense of control. Ultimately, proactively addressing stress empowers individuals to lead healthier, more balanced lives, enhancing both mental and physical health.
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This article was first published on 7th April 2024 and updated on April 8th, 2024 at 12:21 pm


I am a passionate health writer. Recognizing the lack of comprehensive health knowledge among my non-medical peers, I took to health writing to provide scientifically sound and easily understandable health information.

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