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5 Ways to effectively manage and relieve stress

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Today, with the situation we are experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the areas of health that is being affected the most is mental health, as there has been an increase in cases of anxiety and depression caused by the stress of quarantine confinement. Below, we will give you more information to know more about this response.

 

What is stress?

Stress is a physical or mental response to an external factor or cause, some examples are having a lot of homework or a lot of work to do, suffering from an illness, etc. Similarly, there are stressors, which are events that happen once in the short term or may happen repeatedly for a long time.

Difference between stress and anxiety

There is a lot of confusion about the difference between stress and anxiety, and we often think that they’re synonyms, however, anxiety is a reaction to stress when people have lost control of it. Similarly, stress lasts less, but chronic stress can develop when it lasts for months, and if chronic stress is not controlled it can turn into anxiety. Finally, stress manifests itself primarily in your body, while anxiety manifests itself in both your body and your mind, with negative implications for both physical and mental health. 

Why can we feel stress?

There is a wide variety of reasons why a person may experience stress, but some of its main causes are:

  • Marriage or divorce
  • Starting a new job
  • Death of a loved one
  • Being fired from a job or retiring 
  • Having a serious illness
  • Problems at work or at home

Effects of stress

One of the direct consequences of stress is anxiety, which can be the reaction to a threat even if it is not real. If anxiety persists, there may be negative health implications. Usually, with stress and anxiety come symptoms such as insomnia, weak digestive, immune, cardiovascular, and reproductive systems. In the same way, it is very possible to develop mental disorders such as depression.

Some of the symptoms that may develop from stress are:

  • Poor memory
  • Use of alcohol or drugs to relax
  • Lack of energy or concentration
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Rigid neck or jaw

Types of stress

There are two types of stress:

  • Chronic stress: This type of stress is mainly characterized by its long duration, which can continue for weeks or months, so you could get used to it and stop seeing it as a problem, increasing your risk of facing health problems. You may feel chronic stress from having financial problems, problems at work, an unhappy marriage, etc. 
  • Acute stress: Acute stress is extremely common, of shorter duration and disappears quickly compared to chronic stress. You may feel it when you do something new or exciting, such as skiing on a dangerous slope, skydiving, or before taking an exam.

When stressed, the body releases hormones that cause the brain to be more alert, muscles to tighten, and heart rate to increase. At that point, these reactions help your body deal with the reason why the stress was generated, this is a defense mechanism of the human body. With chronic stress the body is always alert, so health problems may arise, such as:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart failure
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Dermatological problems, such as acne or eczema
  • Menstrual problems

If you already have health problems, they can be aggravated by stress.

5 ways to relieve stress

Everybody experiences stress, and it can become overwhelming in some cases. You may develop an anxiety disorder if you feel that you can’t control stress, when symptoms interfere with your daily life and symptoms seem to be always present.

It is important to learn how to cope with stress and to do that, you need to find out what causes it. It’s also important to research what types of coping techniques can help you reduce stress and the chances of having anxiety, and to do this, you need to try different things until you find out what can help you. Some activities you can try to reduce stress include:

  • Writing a diary.
  • Maintaining the same sleep routine and making sure you get enough sleep.
  • Avoid consuming too much caffeine.
  • Identifying your negative thoughts and aim to overcome them, and practice mindfulness.
  • Contact your friends or family to help you cope with this in a positive way.

Feeling stress from time to time is completely normal, and fortunately there are many simple actions that will help you reduce and manage it. However, if the symptoms persist and the stress level doesn’t go down, you may need to go to psychotherapy, where a professional will help you manage this issue in the best way. 

If you don’t have health insurance, stress can make you have a hard time. #CallBlanca Now! bit.ly/CallBlancaWA and check out the different coverages she has to offer. 

We invite you to ask yourself the following questions for reflection, and post your answers below, in the comment section:

  1. How stressed are you currently?
  2. What stresses you out?
  3. What actions help you manage your stress? 
  4. Have you practiced mindfulness? 
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