Stress and Stress Management

What is Stress?

Stress is a natural reaction of the body to any danger that needs to be adapted or reacted to. The observed situation regarding the danger can be a real event or it can be a situation that the mind “perceives as dangerous”. Stress response, which occurs in order to protect the person, can impair the quality of life and the functionality of the individual when observed too much. In daily life, many life events can become stressful in the school, home, family and work environment.

The Process of Experiencing Stress

In addition to daily life events; In the case of traumatic experiences, internal conflicts arise in situations that cannot be predicted or contain uncertainty, and this becomes a source of stress. In situations that require change and adaptation to this change, stress becomes inevitable when current coping methods are insufficient.

Many factors can be a source of stress, from life events such as work, school, change of home, starting university, finishing school, promotion to traumatic events such as the loss of a loved one, illness, natural disasters, and accident. Relational difficulties, intense work conditions, having children, getting married, getting divorced, and financial difficulties can also be among life events that cause stress. However, stress may not always be caused by environmental factors.

Having an anxious, pessimistic temperament, being extremely worried, and being in an irrational way of thinking are among the internal stress triggers of the individual. Inability to tolerate uncertainty, weak yawning skills, perfectionism, all-or-nothing thoughts, negative perception of self-worth, and excessive negative inner voices (like you won’t be able to do it) are among the factors observed among the internal causes of stress.

How Does Stress Affect People?

In times of danger, the nervous system releases cortisol (stress hormone) and adrenaline. Thanks to these hormones, the body goes into the “alarm state”. The heart rate accelerates, the muscles tense, tighten, breathing increases, and the body is ready to fight the danger. This response of the nervous system is called the Fight-Flight response and is activated automatically. With the accelerated blood flow, the person has to fight or flee in order to survive. However, in daily life, although almost no one is confronted with a wild predator, cortisol and adrenaline are released frequently, muscles tighten, blood flow accelerates, breathing increases.

The body and mind find it difficult to discern how dangerous the events of daily life are; When it receives signals of internal or external danger, it activates the “Fight-Flight” response. At the time of a promotion or in relation to a job whose deadline is approaching, it behaves as when a ferocious predator approaches. Therefore, he must be on the alert often. It activates the alarm system physically, emotionally, intellectually and behaviorally in order to survive in the face of impending “danger”. Being constantly alert and trying to deal with danger starts to become quite tiring in the long run and reduces functionality. The individual may become unable to continue their routine work. A vital alarm system, when used too much, reaches a position that impairs function and negatively impacts psychological well-being.

Symptoms of Stress

Physical symptoms:Heart palpitations, pain and tiredness, muscle tension, rapid breathing, gastrointestinal problems (constipation, diarrhea, stomach and intestinal disorders), weakness, chest pain, nausea, dizziness, getting sick frequently, weakening of the immune system, loss of sexual desire observable.

Emotional symptoms:Unwillingness can be seen as not being able to enjoy things that used to be enjoyed, feeling lonely, depression, feeling unhappy, unhappy, pessimistic, feeling overwhelmed, restlessness, irritability, irritability, outbursts of anger, and anxiety disorder.

Cognitive symptoms:It can be observed as forgetfulness, difficulty in making decisions, being constantly worried, focusing on the negative side of events, weakening of reasoning skills, memory problems, and difficulty concentrating.

Behavioral symptoms:Sleep disorders (such as sleeping too much, not being able to fall asleep, interrupted sleep), appetite problems (eating excessively or lack of appetite), anxiety symptoms (such as nail biting, hair pulling), procrastination, not being able to start or continue a job, people self-isolation, introversion, alcohol or substance use.

Consequences of the Persistence of Stress

However, being constantly exposed to stress becomes chronic after a while; creates a feeling of fatigue and overload in the individual’s life. Many issues such as upcoming exams, household responsibilities, workload due to deadlines can reveal chronic stress. Due to its working principle, in situations that require such intensity, the mind is triggered and begins to act as if there is a real danger. A kind of alarm system is activated and changes are observed especially in the body.

Heart rate increases, breathing may become more intense. In cases of chronic exposure to stress, clinical pictures related to anxiety disorders, depression, sleep problems, thinking and memory (such as forgetfulness) may occur. In the moment of stress, the body starts to act as if there is a threat; so the body takes action. In case of intense and chronic stress, the body’s alarm system (Fight-Flight response) is activated, as well as autoimmune diseases, chronic pain, gastrointestinal problems (such as reflux, ulcers), cardiovascular diseases (such as heart, blood pressure), loss of appetite, skin problems (eczema, urticaria/ such as hives).

Necessity of Stress

Although stress is often referred to as a negative state, it has a very vital and protective meaning in human life. An “alarm system” is activated in the body of the person who sees a wild predator coming towards him. Stress does not always create negative consequences. A certain amount of stress is a driving force and increases motivation.

Ways to Cope with Stress

In order to reduce the level of being affected by stress, it is very important to discover what triggers the stress. Understanding the source makes it easier to develop methods for coping and is the first step in the path to follow. Recognizing the signs of stress and awareness of the individual at the time of stress is another step. It is critical to seek help from a mental health professional in situations where there is a lot of stress and it becomes difficult to cope. If necessary, medical treatment can be started. In psychotherapy, interventions are made to discover the source of stress and strengthen ways of coping.

Keeping daily records of stress (event, initiator, thoughts going through at that time, emotion, behavior record) will increase awareness. This makes it possible to discover triggers and recognize initiators. Breathing and relaxation exercises that can be applied during stress can reduce the level of stress in the body and make it easier to control it. In psychotherapy practices, it is aimed that the clients learn to relax physically during stress by teaching breathing and relaxation exercises. At the same time, a change is created in the thought system by establishing a link between the event-thought-emotion-behavior that triggers stress.

To cope with stress, physical exercise, healthy eating, regular sleep and rest, communicating with people, maintaining social ties, focusing on the moment rather than the past or the future, trying to enjoy the moment and learning to relax are among the methods that can be applied.

Stress is the driving force and motivation in human life. It disrupts functionality when it doesn’t exist or reaches an extreme level. stress; Using it as a creative force to support skills and talents will reduce the negative effects of stress and will enable to focus on the work and maintain the daily routine in a healthy way.

The presence of family and social environment is a very important treatment tool in coping with stress. In situations where stress is intense, the individual may prefer to be alone, but spending time with people and socializing is a very protective factor. The individual’s sense of control about his own life is another very important variable in the decisions taken. Reducing negative attributions when interpreting events makes the individual feel good. It is known that optimistic individuals with high coping skills and self-awareness experience relatively less stress and/or cope with stress better.

1. Time Management: In the beginning, time, the only resource that we all have equally, can be successfully managed by people who show determination in time management. In order to manage time, it is necessary to make a realistic program that is suitable for the person’s capacity and personality traits. If the programs are to cover only the tasks that must be done in terms of content, the program will most likely not work. In order to be able to make an effective program, besides the obligations, regular sleep, breaks, entertainment, rest, social activities and activities that can be alternative to possible changes (such as exercising in the room if the planned walk cannot be done due to rain) should be included in the program.

2. Using Problem Solving Techniques: It is most used on problems that can be controlled. The following path can be followed: A. Why did the stressful situation occur? B. Is it the only person who sees the situation as a problem? C. Does the individual have their own contribution? D. Are there other things or people who can contribute? E. Are there as many options as possible for the solution? The individual who seeks answers to these questions will move away from the stressful situation and take a step towards a solution.

3. Avoiding Overgeneralizations: Based on a single event, negative thoughts towards the whole should not be developed. My exam went badly, as I will not be able to pass the class this year…. However, this exam was bad, but I can prepare better for other exams. Such negative generalizations made by oneself become automatic as time passes and are not easily replaced by positive content.

4. Developing Interpersonal Relationships: While stressful situations can stem from relationships with people, being able to argue with them can be a key to resolution. Taking responsibility with “I” sentences without using “you” language during discussions can strengthen communication and relationship. Instead of “You don’t want to understand me”, “I think I can’t explain myself enough” will be more constructive.

5. Developing Social Activities: Trying a different activity outside of routines, trying to learn something new can help relax the mind. Activities such as a different meal, a different haircut, calling an old friend, going to a concert, cinema, theater, reading a magazine or novel can be helpful to get away from the stress of routines.

6. Physical Activity: The right exercise can serve many purposes. It can increase the individual’s skills, muscle strength, help to lose weight and not gain, improve the general physiological conditions of the body by making it easier for the heart to easily take oxygen to the body tissues. Exercise helps the body to get rid of the hormones caused by stress, so it can prevent the sudden response to stress.

7. Balanced Nutrition: Tea, coffee, chocolate, cocoa, cola drinks are among the foods that cause stress. These foods contain chemicals that initiate the stress response. They increase alertness and mobility. Therefore, instead of these foods, herbal teas such as linden, sage and fruit can be consumed. By regulating the eating habits, the individual’s control over the energy level, reactions to stress and general health can be increased.

8. Relaxation Exercises: It can be learned by acquiring CDs or cassettes that teach relaxation exercises, or by getting help from an expert. It is the individual’s ability to recognize the tension that may occur in his muscles before tension occurs and to relax it on his own. The individual who practices the relaxation exercise can maintain control over his body by doing the practice before tense environments or by taking relaxation breaks during the day.

9. Visualization:Dreaming of a situation or environment that relaxes the individual can help him get away from the negative feelings and thoughts caused by stress and find alternative ways to cope with stress.

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