Stress: What causes it, what are its symptoms and how to deal with it

Stress is a normal human reaction. In fact, when the body is confronted with stressors, our nervous system releases stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, which cause our body to react urgently. Our heart beats faster, muscles tighten, blood pressure rises, and breathing speeds up. These changes increase our strength and endurance, decrease our reaction time to various stimuli, and prepare us to either face a potential “danger” » or leave. Stress can be positive as long as it keeps us alert. But it can also be a serious problem when stressors continue to exist for long periods of time, without intervening periods of rest.

The symptoms of stress

Stress manifests itself with physical, emotional, cognitive symptoms, but also with behavioral changes. Examples of physical symptoms include chest pain, fast heart rate, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, loss of sex drive, frequent colds or the flu. Common emotional symptoms of stress are low mood, irritability, anger, isolation, and other mental or emotional health problems. Regarding cognitive symptoms, memory problems, inability to concentrate, poor judgement, but also anxious – bad thoughts are observed. Finally, people who experience intense stress are likely to sleep too much or too little, to be possessed by procrastination or neglecting responsibilities , develop nervous habits (such as onychophagia), 

The causes of stress

Anything that requires more energy from us can be considered a stressor. This means that for some, positive events such as marriage, buying a house, studying or a promotion can act as stressors. However, stress is not solely triggered by external factors. It can also come from ourselves, when we worry too much about something that may or may not happen, or have irrational and pessimistic thoughts about life. The most common “internal” causes of stress are pessimism, the inability to manage uncertainty , rigid thinking, lack of flexibility, unrealistic expectations and perfectionism. In contrast, the most common “external” causes of stress are major changes in our lives, demanding interpersonal relationships, 

7 tips for coping with stress

  1. We set realistic goals for our day, week and month.

This will help us to be in control of the moment, but also of our long-term obligations. As we set our goals, we don’t forget that it’s important to say “no” to extra responsibilities when our schedule is already loaded.

  1. We try relaxation techniques.

Such techniques are meditation and yoga. When performed regularly, these techniques can reduce daily stress levels and enhance feelings of joy and peace. They also increase our ability to remain calm and focused in stressful situations.

  1. We exercise.

Even a short walk can distract us from any kind of worry and, by extension, significantly boost our mood. Activities such as walking, running, swimming and dancing are particularly effective.

  1. We pay attention to our diet.

Eating processed and fast food, fatty and sugary snacks can worsen stress symptoms. Instead, a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, protein and omega-3 fatty acids can help manage it better.

  1. We rest.

To be able to think clearly and effectively manage the stress we feel, it is important to set aside a few minutes during the day for relaxation. In the event that we find it difficult to fall asleep, we form a stable sleep-wake schedule, we follow a relaxing preparation before bedtime, away from screens and anything that keeps us awake. In addition, we speed up our relaxation with a warm decoction of chamomile or valerian – herbs that are famous for their positive effect on the quality of sleep.

  1. We stay in touch with the people we love.

These people are the ones who keep us calm and provide us with emotional support. Communicating with friends when we are stressed can trigger the release of hormones that calm our nervous system and relieve us of stress.

  1. At the end of each day…

We take a moment to reflect on what we have achieved. We keep a positive attitude towards events and express gratitude for all the pleasant things that happen in our life.