Stress is a body's reaction to changes within a person's environment. Introducing a stressor into a person's environment causes them to react in certain ways. This is a normal reaction; it is a form of protection from potentially harmful situations in the short term. Stress in this kind of situation is called eustress, a good kind of stress. It helps to enhance a person's bodily functioning during a certain period of time, both mentally and physically.
EXAMPLEIf a person is physically in danger, then stress can be helpful because it triggers their fight or flight response, enabling them to get out of that situation. Another example would be if a person is taking a test, this heightened state of mental awareness and mental ability can potentially help them to perform better.
Long-term stress, however, can lead to many mental and physical problems like fatigue or irritability. It can lead to decreased mental functioning over a long period of time. Other physical problems can arise, including heart disease, because of increased blood pressure over time, ulcers, and decreased immunological functioning.
Now, this is particularly true today with the increased number of stressors all around us. Research has shown that people living in cities have much higher stress and anxiety levels than people who do not. They are more likely to develop mood or psychotic disorders, and experience a higher activation of the area of the brain called the amygdala, which is the area related to emotions.
Because of all of these new factors within the environment, it is important that a person learns proper stress management.
There are two major approaches to coping with stress:
EXAMPLEFor example, if you can't turn off a fire alarm, you simply walk away so you don't have to hear the alarm.
EXAMPLEFor example, you may notice that you have an increased heart rate due to stress, and take a deep breath. Controlling your breathing helps to reduce the bodily reaction to stress.
This would be an example of biofeedback. Biofeedback is when a person gets information about their body's activities, and they can learn to control those reactions to prevent different problems or illnesses from developing. This has also been used to control a person's blood flow to the head, which can help to reduce the instances of migraines occurring.
Social support also provides a person with a better feeling about themselves. More people around them means more people that are likely to point out the positive things about them and improve their sense of well-being. Social support has been helpful in the treatment of almost every mental disorder.
Source: This work is adapted from Sophia Author Erick Taggart.