Managing and Reducing Stress

A feeling of constant abnormal pressure, stress can originate from different aspects of day-to-day life. It can result in a variety of physical symptoms, including changes in behavior and experiencing strong emotions. Stress has a variety of physical and emotional effects, with varying degrees of severity.

Some common signs and symptoms include - a feeling of worry, difficulty in concentration, unusual eating habits, mood swings, low self-esteem, unusual sleeping habits, muscle tension, nausea, and depression among many. Long-term stress prevention and management can reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and depression.

Stress

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The two types of stress

Stress can be of two types - acute and chronic. Acute stress is short-term and usually originates when one attempts something new or exciting or fights with their partner. Chronic stress lasts for a longer period and can originate due to financial stress or problems in the workplace. Chronic stress lasts for weeks or months and can cause health issues if left unmanaged.

Association of stress with other diseases

In today's society, stress is a widespread condition that has evolved into a global public health crisis. Continuous stress can lead to unproductive ruminating, which drains energy and intensifies the stress sensation.

Atherosclerosis, migraines, obesity, muscle tension and backache, high cholesterol, coronary heart disease, hypertension, stroke, and several other human health conditions are related to stress.

Stress induces the release of cholesterol and triglycerides into the bloodstream increasing heart rate and blood flow. Stress has been demonstrated in numerous research projects to aggravate asthma.

According to some data, a parent's prolonged stress may raise their child's risk of acquiring asthma. It can intensify diabetes in two ways. To begin, it influences poor behaviors and attitudes like unhealthy eating and excessive drinking more likely. It also appears to boost glucose levels in persons with type 2 diabetes.

One of the most common causes of headaches (both tension headaches and migraines) is stress. Many additional GI problems, such as chronic heartburn (or gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD) and irritable bowel syndrome, are linked to stress (IBS).

According to one animal study, stress may worsen Alzheimer's disease by hastening the formation of brain lesions. According to some researchers, lower levels of stress may help to decrease the growth of the disease.

Managing stress

Time management, conflict resolution, communication skills, social support, humor, spirituality, meditation, exercise, yoga, and massage have all been used in the past to manage and disrupt the detrimental effects of stress on the mind and body. There is a link between time management abilities and stress levels, according to research.

Social support has helped patients adjust to their illnesses and made African American women feel more connected to their communities. It has also supported HIV/AIDS patients to adhere to their medication regimens and alleviate depressive symptoms.

According to studies, active listening and other communication methods are helpful ways to manage social pressures. Humor can help to defuse stressful situations and prevent mood swings from occurring. It also aids in stress management by enhancing happiness, which leads to an increase in social support. Meditation, spirituality, and yoga can reduce anxiety, chronic pain, depression, and tension.

Mindfulness-based stress reduction, a well-known, frequently mentioned example of mindfulness training, is helping people cope with stress, sadness, and anxiety.

Positive effects have been documented among a variety of clinical and non-clinical populations, including cancer patients, mixed illness populations, health care workers, continuing education students, and college undergraduates, in mindfulness-based stress reduction programs.

Exploring some common stress management techniques

Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) is a stress-reduction technique that involves alternating between tensing and releasing the muscles. Reduced salivary cortisol levels and generalized anxiety, lower blood pressure and heart rate, and fewer headaches are just a few of the long-term benefits of PMR. It improves cardiac rehabilitation management, patients' quality of life following bypass surgery, and patient's quality of life with multiple sclerosis.

Autogenic training (AT), a self-relaxation procedure, is useful in a range of disorders like coronary heart disease, tension headache/migraine, mild-to-moderate depression/dysthymia, anxiety disorders, asthma bronchiole, mild-to-moderate essential hypertension, and functional sleep disorders.

Diaphragmatic breathing, also known as abdominal or belly breathing, or deep breathing, is characterized by the expansion of the abdomen rather than the chest while breathing.

Deep breathing has been successfully used to reduce the fatigue associated with hemopoietic stem cell transplantation patients. It is also known to reduce anxiety in children with asthma and the management of acute stressful tasks. This demonstrates that the slow-breathing technique can have a significant effect on improving the hemodynamic changes following acute stressful tasks.

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), a brief exposure therapy with a cognitive and somatic component developed by Gary Craig in the 1990s, is based on the observation that emotional trauma plays a significant role in disease. In patients with fibromyalgia, EFT reduces pain perception, increasing acceptance and coping ability.

It also improves health-related quality of life. It also has an immediate effect on anxiety, psychological trauma, PTSD, and trauma following coronary heart disease.

Techniques for stress reduction are a safe and effective way to reduce stress. The various strategies can help patients and healthcare providers who are experiencing stress or related symptoms. Health visitors, nurses, physicians, and other health professionals can employ these interventions safely and successfully in patients with sufficient training.

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Further Reading

Last Updated: Oct 20, 2021

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