Don’t Let Stress Control You! Learn Ways to Reduce Psychological Stress Now
Psychological stress is defined as any mental state that causes physical and emotional discomfort. There are many types of psychological stress, but some common ones include anxiety, depression, anger, fear, worry, guilt, shame, embarrassment, loneliness, boredom, frustration, and helplessness. These feelings may cause us to feel tired, irritable, angry, sad, anxious, guilty, ashamed, embarrassed, lonely, bored, frustrated, or helpless.
What Is Psychological Stress?
Stress is defined as any kind of pressure or tension that causes physical and emotional discomfort. When we experience psychological stress, our body releases hormones and chemicals into the bloodstream. These chemicals cause us to feel anxious, nervous, tense, worried, angry, sad, depressed, guilty, ashamed, embarrassed, frustrated, confused, stressed out, overwhelmed, and even sick. Psychological stress occurs when we have feelings that cause us to feel anxious, nervous, worried, or upset about something. Psychologists use words to describe these different types of psychological stress. In this video, I explain what they mean, and how they affect our bodies, and give tips on managing them.
- Social anxiety – Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is characterized by excessive fear of being judged negatively by others. It’s not clear exactly why people develop social anxiety disorders since they aren’t necessarily shy. But many people who suffer from SAD avoid places where they might run into people they don’t know well, and may even refuse to go out alone. People with social anxiety often try to control their behavior and act in ways that make themselves appear less attractive. They may spend hours preparing before going somewhere public or talking to someone they find intimidating. And they may say things like “I’m sorry,” or “thank you” excessively.
- Panic attacks – Panic attacks occur when people experience intense panic that reaches extreme levels. These episodes happen suddenly and unexpectedly and last only minutes. People experiencing panic attacks may feel dizzy, short of breath, sweaty, nauseous, or faint. Many people who experience panic attacks worry that they’re having a heart attack. However, this isn’t true. A person’s heartbeat doesn’t slow down during a panic attack. Instead, blood pressure drops slightly.
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) – GAD is similar to panic disorder except that people with GAD aren’t afraid of dying. They just get extremely anxious over everyday situations. Common symptoms of GAD include restlessness, irritability, difficulty concentrating, muscle tension, insomnia, headaches, and stomach problems. Adults who have generalized anxiety disorder tend to worry a lot about work-related issues, money, family, or health.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) – OCD is a mental illness that involves unwanted thoughts or behaviors that seem impossible to stop doing. People with OCD feel compelled to repeat certain actions over and over again until they no longer want to do them. Obsessions refer to intrusive thoughts or images that repeatedly trigger upsetting emotions. Compulsions are rituals that people perform to reduce those negative emotions.
If you’ve ever felt stressed out at work, then you probably already know that stress can lead to physical changes in your body. Cortisol helps prepare your body for emergencies, while adrenaline speeds up your heart rate, increases alertness, and gives you extra energy. Unfortunately, constant exposure to high levels of stress can wear down your immune system, making you vulnerable to disease.
When we talk about stress, we often think about external factors — things like financial strain, relationship troubles, or job uncertainty. But internal stressors can play a huge role in causing mood swings and depression. Internal stressors include anything inside ourselves, including emotional reactions to relationships, personal goals, or daily activities.
The first step towards dealing with stress is recognizing that it exists. Once you recognize that stress is affecting your life, you can start taking steps to deal with it. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and need help coping with stress, consider seeking professional counseling.
Some common signs of psychological stress include:
- Feeling anxious, nervous, tense, or worried
- Having trouble concentrating
- Being easily irritated
- Becoming restless, agitated, or hyperactive
- Experiencing sleep disturbances
- Focusing on negative aspects of situations
- Crying frequently
- Losing interest in activities once enjoyed
- Not being able to enjoy things you used to love
- Feeling guilty, ashamed, or embarrassed
- Feeling worthless or useless
- Having frequent feelings of despair or hopelessness
- Having frequent feelings that something bad might happen
- Having frequent fears of losing control or becoming ill
- Having frequent feelings or thoughts of suicide
- Having frequent feelings and thoughts of harming yourself
There are several reasons why people become depressed. Sometimes it happens after a major loss, such as losing a loved one. Other times, depression can strike without warning, especially if you have experienced any kind of trauma. Depression can also stem from long-term medical conditions, such as chronic pain, thyroid problems, diabetes, cancer, epilepsy, and Parkinson’s Disease.
Stress is inevitable in modern society. Even though everyone experiences some level of stress, severe cases can be debilitating. Chronic stress causes serious health problems, ranging from cardiovascular disease and digestive disorders to cancer and autoimmune disorders. Fortunately, stress management techniques exist to help alleviate its harmful effects.
In order to cope with stress effectively, you should learn more about stress management techniques. One technique is mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation teaches you to focus on the present moment instead of worrying about the future or dwelling on the past. Try meditating regularly to relieve stress. Another effective method is yoga. Yoga offers a variety of poses that will improve your flexibility, balance, and concentration. Finally, exercise is proven to lower stress. Get moving! Exercise will release endorphins in your brain that will make you feel happier.
Depression affects millions of people every year. While there are many treatments available, sometimes medication is necessary. Learn more about depression treatment options here.
Anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, separation anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, posttraumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, specific phobias, and trichotillomania. Anxiety disorders are among the most commonly diagnosed psychiatric illnesses, and they frequently coexist with other disorders. The lifetime prevalence of anxiety disorders is approximately 30%, and the 12-month prevalence is around 18%. For example, if you watch television, read a book, or listen to music you enjoy, you won’t feel lonely. You’ll connect with friends and family members. You’ll feel happy and satisfied.
The Fight-Or-Flight Response
When faced with danger, our bodies respond by preparing us for either flight or fight. In the case of physical threats, adrenaline surges through the body, causing blood vessels to dilate, heart rate to increase, breathing to quicken, muscles to tense, and senses to sharpen. All these changes help us run away or stand our ground.
In contrast, when faced with an emotional threat, the body releases cortisol instead of adrenaline. Cortisol causes many of the same physiological responses as adrenaline does, but it lasts longer. And it affects the mind rather than the body.
How Can You Reduce Your Exposure To Psychological Stress?
There are several ways to reduce your exposure to psychological stress. First, try not to worry about everything. Worrying doesn’t solve anything; it only makes matters worse. Instead, focus on what you can control—your diet, exercise habits, sleep schedule, relationships, etc.—and let go of the rest. Next, learn how to manage your stress effectively. Try meditation, yoga, deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, journaling, and/or cognitive behavioral therapy. Finally, seek out social support. Having someone to talk to helps relieve stress and reduces feelings of loneliness.
7 Tips To Cope-Up With Psychological Stress
- Meditation: Meditation is the practice of focusing on something positive while relaxing the mind. There are many different types of meditation including Zen Buddhism, Vipassana (insight), Transcendental Meditation, and others. Mindfulness meditation focuses on being fully present at the moment without judgment or distraction. When we meditate, our brain waves slow down and become synchronized with low-frequency alpha wave activity. In addition to slowing down the brain waves, it increases oxygen flow throughout the body, lowers blood pressure, and reduces cortisol levels. Studies have shown that people who regularly meditate have lower rates of anxiety and depression than those who do not.
- Yoga: Yoga is a combination of physical postures, breathing techniques, and concentration exercises designed to calm the nervous system, improve flexibility, relieve tension, and promote relaxation. Yoga is great for reducing stress and anxiety, increasing focus and attention, strengthening muscles and bones, and improving posture.
- Exercise: Exercise helps reduce stress and increase endorphin production, which makes us feel happier and calmer. Exercise also changes how our brains interpret situations. We tend to think about what happened in a stressful situation rather than how we handled it. If we exercise before a stressful event occurs, then we’re less likely to get stressed out.
- Massage Therapy: Massage therapy uses gentle touch to relax tense muscles and release pent-up emotions. A massage therapist may use their hands, fingers, elbows, forearms, knees, feet, thumbs, or any number of tools to apply deep pressure to various muscle groups. Massages can help reduce pain, inflammation, and stiffness, boost circulation, and stimulate the immune system. Massage therapists can use oils to ease soreness after exercising or working on hard surfaces.
- Reiki: Reiki is a Japanese technique where someone places their hands over a specific area of the body and gives off a healing energy. This technique was developed in Japan thousands of years ago. Reiki is helpful for releasing emotional blockages and letting go of negative thoughts. It can also help balance chakras, or energy centers, in the body.
- Acupuncture: Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medical procedure that involves inserting fine needles into certain points along the body to control pain, treat illness, and enhance well-being. Acupuncture is believed to activate the body’s own natural defense mechanism to prevent disease. It can also regulate hormones, boost immunity, and promote good sleep habits.
- Color Therapy: Color therapy is based on the belief that colors can affect mood, energy, and behavior. Colors can alter our mental states by influencing our perception of time, space, and even our sense of self. Colors can also influence our emotions and create feelings of happiness or sadness.