Everyone experiences stress within their lifetime. It is an extremely common thing and can have a powerful impact on various aspects of your life. Stress has the power to affect your relationships, your mood, your work performance, and your energy levels. Some experience stress so severe that they feel like they can’t cope.
Faster-paced lifestyles, high demands from work and family responsibilities, and societal pressure to do more have contributed to higher stress levels in the United States. Because of this, it is important to know about stress so that it does not affect your life negatively. Learning how to manage your stress levels and knowing what triggers you will be important to coping.
What is Stress?
Stress and anxiety often get mixed up because it stems from the same feeling: Worry. Anxiety is when feelings of worry do not have a clear cause or when those feelings are bigger than the situation warrants. Stress is a reaction to something we have full control over, or different aspects of our lives that we could manage better. It’s common to feel stressed when things are overwhelming you, like your job responsibilities or the things you need to get done at home.
When you feel overwhelmed, threatened, or challenged, your body naturally reacts to prepare yourself. Everyone reacts differently to different scenarios, but we all feel the same things when we believe we are in a stressful situation. This is called stress reaction and is also known as the “fight, flight, or freeze” response. This can develop within minutes, hours, or even days. While this is a regular part of life, it’s important to understand what causes this kind of reaction in your life, and how you can manage it.
How it Impacts Our Lives
As mentioned previously, stress can have a major impact on various aspects of our lives. Stress can affect our relationships, our careers, and even our health. Managing your stress levels can be effective in reducing these types of effects.
How Stress Impacts Health
Persistent reactions to stress can lead to many health problems, including cardiovascular disease, digestive disorders, accelerated aging, and decreased immune functioning. Other effects of stress include weight gain, headaches, and irritability. These are the most extreme, however, knowing this and being able to prevent or see the warning signs can help motivate you to manage your stress better.
How Stress Impacts Relationships
The frustration, exhaustion, and anger from the feeling of stress can often influence the things we say and how we treat others. Studies have shown that during periods of high stress, people tend to react more intensely to the normal ups and downs of any relationship. It’s imperative we take caution to prevent these reactions.
How Stress Impacts Job Performance
Your career can be one of the highest pain points for stress in your life, so knowing how to manage this can be critical to your mental health. Chronic stress can impair your ability to make rational decisions at work and can affect your energy levels. Most importantly, stress can lead to burnout, which leads to decreased effectiveness at work.
Our body’s fight or flight response is not meant to be “on” all the time, so you must learn how to alleviate stress regularly. It is up to you to figure out what causes you to feel stressed, recognize how your body reacts, and understand how to minimize this feeling.
Source: Mclean Hospital (2023) Everything You Need to Know About Stress
Source: The Jed Foundation (2023) Understanding Stress
Source: Karen Lawson (2016) Why It´s Important to Master Stress