Posted on October 15, 2019
Stress is something that everyone experiences, but nobody likes to talk about. While having some stress in our day-to-day lives might help our productivity, many people feel stress in the form of anxiety and other negative symptoms. While at times you might realize you’re stressed out or anxious, it’s important to identify what kind of stress you’re feeling. This identification can help you manage your stress more effectively. Advekit is here to help you with our therapist matching service.
Stress is the body and brain’s response to a specific situation. What causes stress for one person may not induce the same response and symptoms in someone else. However, not all stress is bad. While stress can certainly be the reason someone feels overwhelmed or anxious, it can also help them respond appropriately in times of danger or help them focus when they need to meet a deadline.
The body and brain produce specific chemicals and hormones as part of their stress response. Physical symptoms of stress include the brain working more quickly, experiencing bursts of energy, and an increased heart rate. It is this response that allows humans to experience what we know as stress.
We all know that stress can quickly become a negative force in our lives when we experience too much of it. While you can’t completely remove all stress from your life, you can implement stress management techniques to help reduce symptoms.
So many of us label stress as a negative feeling. The fight or flight response that arises when we experience stress helps us remain calm amidst chaos or act quickly when needed.
The fight or flight state should be temporary. Our bodies and minds can’t maintain homeostasis when we’re constantly in a near-crisis state. Once the stress triggering event response has passed, our bodies are meant to return to normal. Our heart rate slows down, our breathing rate becomes normal, and our entire musculoskeletal system relaxes.
Over time, good stress can become bad stress. Heart palpitations, increased blood pressure and blood sugar are all harmful stress response symptoms. We exhaust our physical resources from being in the fight or flight state too often or for too long. Imagine how much harder your heart must work when it’s beating at an increased rate for longer than normal, or the strain your brain experiences from working in overdrive for a long period of time. If you experience these harmful effects on a regular basis, it might be time to reach out for help from a professional from a therapist to help identify stress management techniques.
Let’s take a look at the different types of stress.
Acute stress is the type of stress that brings about the fight-or-flight response. In small doses, acute stress is exciting and exhilarating. Individuals who participate in sports tend to experience acute stress in small doses. Acute stress is natural; however, too much acute stress can result in some uncomfortable symptoms that may include:
Acute stress is manageable with therapy techniques and lifestyle changes.
Episodic acute stress describes cases in which people are in a near-constant state of acute stress. This type of stress is commonly self-inflicted, meaning that the people who suffer from it create a stress response where there doesn’t need to be one.
Many of us have a friend, relative, or co-worker who seems to be in a constant state of crisis. Wherever they go, they seem to find a disastrous issue that needs addressing and that warrants a stress response. People who experience episodic acute stress can come across as irritable and angry. Additionally, acute stress symptoms compile over time and can lead to serious health concerns.
Chronic worrying is another way to induce episodic acute stress. People believe that something terrible is going to happen and find ways to worry. These individuals usually suffer more from anxiety and depression. Episodic acute stress symptoms are compounded over an extended period of time, which can lead to health problems. This kind of stress often requires support because it’s self-created. It is common for individuals to utilize therapy and make changes to their lifestyle to see improvement.
Individuals who suffer from chronic stress aren’t generally aware of the extent to which it affects them. Chronic stress occurs when people find themselves in difficult situations without an obvious solution. It can wear people down over time and is often the result of circumstances such as poverty, war, an unhappy marriage, or discrimination. People who have chronic stress experience nearly constant pressure from stressors mostly outside of their control.
In some cases, chronic stress comes about as a result of past trauma. These events can become internalized and continue to affect individuals long after they occur. Examples include childhood abuse and neglect.
Being subjected to chronic stress can contribute to major health concerns, such as:
Stress is a normal part of life. The first step to managing your stress is to be able to identify it.
Figuring out what types of stressors are affecting you is important. There are many different types of stressors that fall into two main categories:
Stress will never go away completely, but symptoms from stress can be reduced. Making small life adjustments and changes can aid in stress management. For example, attending therapy for stress management can be helpful. Therapists can teach you how to respond in healthier ways to external stressors and help identify your internal stressors before they begin to impact you negatively.
Alison LaSov, LMFT
Alison LaSov is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist with experience treating clients struggling with anxiety and depression. She predominantly focuses on mental health intervention for children and adolescents, particularly those who are in crisis. She has worked within the Los Angeles education system treating students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), as well as supervised a non-profit Teen Crisis Hotline out of Cedars-Sinai Hospital. Alison earned her B.A. from UCLA and M.A. from Pepperdine University. She is a native to Los Angeles and co-founder at Advekit.