Impacts of Stress
What is stress? What are the symptoms of stress? [both physical and emotional symptoms].
There are three types of stress that one can experience known as acute stress, episodic acute stress, or chronic stress. Regardless of which type, stress is a state of worry caused by difficult situations personally or professionally. It’s how we react when we feel under pressure or even threatened. Stress is typically sparked by a situation where we feel we can’t manage or control what’s happening to us or around us. Emotional and physical symptoms of stress can include but aren’t limited to feeling overwhelmed or unable to cope, feeling tense or on edge, agitation or irritability, disruption to appetite and sleep patterns, feeling exhausted and unable to think clearly, struggling with concentration and/or decision making, experiencing headaches and even gut issues.
How is stress diagnosed? How does long-term stress impact your body?
Stress is not something that can be measured as it’s subjective. What might cause one person stress another person could be completely unbothered by the same situation or event. Only the person experiencing stress knows it, however, there are questionnaires and assessments that clinical or medical providers can use to determine whether or not stress is present. These questionnaires and assessments typically include a list of symptoms for the individual to check off (as listed in the above question). The Diagnostic Statistical Manual Fourth Edition had a diagnosis for Acute Stress Disorder, however, when the Fifth Edition came out, this diagnosis was reclassified as Trauma and Stressor Related Disorders. In my opinion, stress is not a disorder but rather a response. If an individual is able to identify their internal and external stressors, then he or she will be able to learn healthy ways to cope with stress and/or change their response to it.
The long-term impacts of stress are severe, to say the least as stress is shown to impact all parts of the body. If stress is ignored, cortisol levels stay peaked, and this negatively impacts a person’s emotional, mental, physical, and even spiritual state of being. Long-term stress is shown to cause cancer and disease.
How does long-term stress impact your mind/brain? How does long-term stress affect your behavior? How does long-term stress affect your emotions?
Stress can cause shrinkage in the brain areas associated with regulating mood, emotions, and metabolism. As a result, this impairs one’s
overall executive functioning. It is also shown to cause anxiety, depression, and other mood issues. It can result in memory loss and increased inflammation. Increased inflammation interrupts one’s ability to experience optimal wellness. Stress can also interrupt one’s ability or desire to socialize and interact with others. This leads to isolation, which we know negatively impacts emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual health.
When should I seek professional help?
If you reach a point where you feel like you are not able to bounce back on your own or manage your thoughts, emotions, or overall life then it is recommended to seek professional help. If you feel like you are stuck or frozen, know that help is available, and you don’t have to fight the battle on your own.
How can I relieve stress? How can I help prevent stress?
It’s important to know that stress is normal and will happen, however, there are ways to prevent it or decrease it. Here are some ways: Some coping skills include but aren’t limited to physical movements such as walking, jogging, yoga, or pilates. Meditation is also proven to relieve stress and not only relieve stress but also increase gray matter in the brain, which leads to an overall improved quality of life. Connecting with loved ones, scheduling time for self-care, and doing what you love can also help relieve stress. Journaling and/or keeping a gratitude list, practicing boundaries, eating clean foods, staying hydrated, and proper amounts of sleep are also crucial for relieving stress. Do your best to limit time on social media, cut out distractions, and create healthy habits. The consistent practice of coping skills is what helps to prevent stress. Discover what works for you, create a daily, realistic routine that will support you in preventing stress, and stick to it.
Stephanie Robilio, LCSW
Chief Clinical Officer at Agape Behavioral Healthcare
To learn more about Stephanie visit www.stephanierobilio.com and follow her on Instagram @stephanierobilio, Facebook @stephanierobilio, and subscribe to her on YouTube Stephanie Robilio. Find all of Stephanie’s books on Amazon: WellNow, Mindful Makeover, Painted Soul, and Bonafide Spirit. To join real conversations about what it takes to achieve optimal wellness in mind, body, and spirit, check out The Mindful Living Podcast on Spotify.