Stress is a normal reaction of our body in challenging or dangerous situations. For instance, if you were standing by the road and a motorbike was heading towards you at full speed, your body reacts instantly by sending in stress hormones from the hypothalamus which is an area of the brain called the limbic system. These stress hormones activate the “fight or flight” response of your body, letting your body protect itself through a quick reaction.
Often, when we are faced with daily responsibilities such as work, school, or parenting, these stress hormones help us respond to them. However, when these daily tasks are intense and the stress hormones are released unhindered, your stress level becomes high and could be detrimental to both your physical and mental health.
According to Dr.Olabode Shabi, a medical consultant and Chairman of the Society of Family Physicians of Nigeria, about seven million Nigerians are suffering from mental illness associated with stress and depression making it a pivotal subject to be included in our daily conversations.
If you’re currently struggling with stress, it’s important you know the causes, signs, and ways to deal with it. All of these will be discussed in this article.
Causes of Stress (Stressors)
There are no specific causes of stress. Stressors vary according to the lifestyles and circumstances of one’s present self. However, in general, there are two major factors that bring about stress. They are the external and internal factors.
External factors are the physical environmental situations and challenges you have to deal with every day. In this case, stress could be a result of work, parenting, insecurity, and even war.
Internal factors on the other hand are dependent on one’s ability to manage the external stressors. Factors such as your emotional and mental health, nutrition, fitness level, and sleep routine can determine how well one is able to cope with stress. Hence, the healthier your lifestyle, the better you would be able to deal with stress.
Effects of Stress
Stress might seem like a mild situation but if not managed well it could lead to chronic stress which can cause different health conditions. Healthline has identified some of the effects of stress to include:
- Heart attack
- Fertility problems
- High blood sugar and pressure
- Low sex drive
- Missing periods
- Stomach problem
- Erectile dysfunction
- Weakened immune system
Signs of Stress
Stress can become evident differently in individuals and can also manifest physically, emotionally, and in behaviors. Dominant symptoms of Stress include;
- Insomnia or excessive sleep
- Mood swings and or changes
- Weight gain or loss
- Low energy
Stress is sometimes directly related to anxiety. So being able to manage stress can be an effective means of reducing anxiety.
Although, there is no specific treatment to help manage stress because stress levels, causes, and impacts vary in individuals. However, a number of stress management strategies have been proven to reduce stress.
Before I make a list of them, it’s important that you review daily activities and identify what may be causing your stress. Are you taking on too much? Are you scared about an upcoming event? Do you feel pressured for not attaining certain goals? Whatever it is, figuring out the external factors or causes will be helpful in informing steps in managing your stress.
Below is a list of things you could do to help you cope with stress
- Exercise regularly
- Practice self-care
- Avoid smoking and drinking
- Eat healthy diets
- Have sufficient sleep and rest
- Cut yourself some slack
- Positive Talk
- Take some time off
- Reconnect with family and friends
- Visit a therapist