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Stress Awareness

Background Information

What is stress?

According to A.D.A.M Medical Encyclopedia, "stress is a feeling of emotional or physical tension. It can come from any event or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, or nervous. Stress is your body's reaction to a challenge or demand. In short bursts, stress can be positive, such as when it helps you avoid danger or meet a deadline. But when stress lasts for a long time, it may harm your health." 

Stress is our body's natural response to a trigger. The fight or flight mode is initiated when we feel we are in danger, whether the danger is real or imagined. Not all stress is bad, when we are in physical danger, stress helps us to react quickly to protect ourselves. Stress that has to do with psycho-emotional issues is more complicated because the fight or flight response becomes activated but there is no animate object or person to fight off. 

Types of Stress

There are three main categories of stress: acute, episodic, and chronic. In relation to these three, there are more specific breakdowns of the type of stress one is experiencing: physical stress, psychological stress, psychosocial stress, or psychospiritual stress.

There are many side effects of stress that are both mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual. Stress is also a comorbid condition that can present itself or worsen with anxiety, depression, chronic illness, unstable living or financial situations, etc. 

Common Stressors 

Life Change Events - death of a spouse/friend/pet, divorce, work and financial struggles 

Traumatic Stressors - war, victim of a violent crime, natural disaster, medical illness 

Chronic Stressors - family role/work role strains, discrimination, poverty, caregiving

De-Stress Guide 2021 from Stress Management Society 

A go to guide on what is stress, where it comes from, what it does, and what to do about it. 

Stress on the Body and Mind

  • Heartburn
  • Insomnia
  • Weakened Immune System
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Stomachache
  • Low sex drive
  • Erectile Dysfunction
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Tense Muscles

What Is the Impact of Prolonged Stress?

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Decreased immunity
  • Depression
  • Diabetes2
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Obesity
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Respiratory infections
  • Skin irritation
  • Schizophrenia
  • *list is from

How Do I Know When I'm Stressed?

  • Frequent headaches, jaw clenching or pain
  • Neck ache, back pain, muscle spasms
  • Light headedness, faintness, dizziness
  • Frequent colds, infections, herpes sores
  • Unexplained or frequent “allergy” attacks
  • Constipation, diarrhea, loss of control
  • Chest pain, palpitations, rapid pulse Increased anger, frustration, hostility Increased or decreased appetite
  • Trouble learning new information
  • Frequent crying spells or suicidal thoughts
  • Social withdrawal and isolation
  • Constant tiredness, weakness, fatigue
  • Lies or excuses to cover up poor work
  • Rapid or mumbled speech
  • Read the whole list here

How Stress Effects Your Bodily Functions

  • Musculoskeletal - chronic pain
  • Respiratory - asthma attacks
  • Cardiovascular - heart and blood vessel problems
  • Endocrine - triggered cortisol production
  • Gastrointestinal - chronic bowel disorders
  • Nervous system - continuous activation of the nervous system becomes problematic for other parts of the body
  • Reproductive Systems - lower sex drive, irregular menstrual cycle, difficulty getting pregnant

What is Wellbeing

  • Workplace Wellbeing come from making sure the quality, safety, and environment in the workplace is sustainable
    • includes open communication with colleagues, setting realistic goals and taking advantage of your resources
  • Physical Wellbeing focusing on feeling and being healthy by making positive choices such as eating a balanced diet, exercising, getting enough sleep and practicing safe sex.
    • ex. choosing to take the stairs instead of the elevator 
  • Emotional Wellbeing is the regulation of thoughts, feeling and emotions in a positive way by using one's own strengths to solve a problem instead of focusing on the negatives
    • can involve taking time for self care and asking for help  

Want more information on wellbeing and how to get help, checkout the website for the International Wellbeing Insights. 

The International Wellbeing Insights has packets for every wellbeing aspect and talks you through the obstacles and how to find solutions. Check out Module 1: Introduction to Wellbeing

APA 2020 Report on Stress in America