Stress is the body’s reaction to certain situations that a person perceives as challenging or threatening. Your body responds to stress by releasing chemicals and hormones. Stress can be physical, mental or emotional, and varies from person to person. What is stressful for one person may not be stressful for someone else. Stress can stem from every day hassles to catastrophic events.
Physical stress: Manual labor, over exercise, poor sleep
Mental stress: Working too much, studying too much, information overload
Emotional stress: Relationship problems, anxiety, fear, anger, grief
Acute stress is short term and goes away quickly, such as running late for work or having an argument with someone. Once the situation resolves, it goes away. In small doses it’s beneficial and can motivate, such as helping you focus to meet a task before a deadline or improving athletic performance.
Chronic stress is long term, as the result of a situation that has not been resolved or continues for an extended period of time, such as financial or marital problems. This type of stress is very harmful to your health and can lead to increased risk of strokes, heart attacks and ulcers.
Interestingly, cultural differences effect how people react to stress. In the United States, a highly individualistic culture, people are more likely hesitant to ask for help because they perceive it as being weak. While in Asian, a highly collectivistic culture, people do not hesitate to ask for help because they see each other as interdependent.
How to manage stress:
- Support Systems: Connect with others and spend time with family/friends.
- Exercise: All forms release endorphins that make you feel good.
- Time Management: Don’t over commit, break down and prioritize tasks.
- Visualization: Create a mental image of a peaceful setting or environment.
- Relaxation: Set aside time to rest and relax in your daily schedule.
- Journal Writing: Express your feelings instead of leaving them bottled up.
- Nutrition: Eat a healthy and nutritious diet.