What Is Stress? Why Stress Happens & How To Deal With It
Stress. We know about it. We hear about it constantly. It is in our faces all the time, whether from our personal, professional, or family aspects of our lives. But, what is stress? Why does stress happen? What can we do about it? We have all of the answers you need below.
Part One: What Is Stress?
According to the Cleveland Clinic, "stress is the body's reaction to any change that requires an adjustment or response." So, essentially, it is the way our body manages and deals with change. And that change might not always be pleasant, which is why we think of stress happening in school and work environments or other tough situations.
Sometimes, we might not feel the actual feelings of stress, but can be experiencing the physical manifestations of it. This could include any number of symptoms, but often includes chest tightness, high blood pressure, stomach discomfort, and excessive hair loss.
Part Two: Why Stress Happens
So, now that we know what it is, why does it happen to us in the first place?
It's as simple as understanding the fight or flight response. If stress is how we react and respond to change, it must happen because we've felt threatened in some way, activating our fight or flight response. This is where things begin to spiral. Sometimes, this response is incredibly necessary, and sometimes, we begin to have this response in excess, and even to something that is not as life-or-death threatening.* This can then lead to a heightened level of cortisol, the stress hormone, and it can potentially weaken the immune system, leading to unpleasant health effects, which you can read about here.
Part Three: How To Deal With Stress
We've covered what stress is and why it happens, and now it's key to share how it can be dealt with. Luckily, there are many ways to remedy stress on your own at home, and with so many options, there is sure to be one that works best for you. We suggest trying one or more of the following activities.
- Getting more rest.
- Prioritizing moments of relaxation.
- Creating balanced meals.
- Tapping into a hobby.
- Seeking counseling or therapy (especially if this is having severe impacts on your life or day-to-day function).
- Working on breathing and relaxation exercises.
- Practicing gratitude through journaling or a daily mantra.
We hope this helps you better understand stress, and that it is something that can be managed with practice and some helpful lifestyle changes.
*Thank you to the UK Mental Health Foundation for this information