Why Should You Act On Stress Fast?

"I thrive under pressure", "I get a buzz out of feeling stressed", "No pressure, no diamonds", ...

Are you guilty of muttering any of these when put on the spot during an interview setting?

We all want to make people believe that we work well even when faced with stressful situations, that we love the feeling, in fact, but there are many reasons why being stressed is not for the faint-hearted and why e shouldn't pretend that we cope well under pressure when we sometimes don't.

Jokes aside, stress can affect everyone, no matter how healthy they are, and cause some very disconcerting symptoms. This, however, relates to prolonged periods of stress as opposed to infrequent stressful times that pass by as fast as they come on.

According to experts, research has shown that stress can, at times, have a positive impact on a person - for example, if you have a deadline you need to meet at work, it can sometimes give you that push you need to perform better. This is where the idea of 'thriving' comes in. But when emotions heighten to a point where they become negative and cause you to feel unwell in yourself, that is when the biggest problems arise.

What is stress management?

Don't let pressure, stress or anxiety get on top of you.
Do you feel like you're caving under pressure? Photo credit: Sean MacEntee on Visual hunt / CC BY

Stress, to some, can feel like a dark tunnel with no end. And sadly for some, this stress does bring with it some incurable or fatal health complications.

Some of the worst-case scenarios can include cardiac problems like heart attacks, yet milder symptoms may be anxiety attacks.

Fatal Or Near-Fatal Health Issues Related To Stress

Medics believe that individuals who are highly stressed most of the time are at a higher risk of developing things like high blood pressure, a faster heart rate and high cholesterol. What's more, these people are more likely to turn to tobacco products, alcohol and possibly even illegal drugs to take the edge off of their negative emotions and help them to relax.

Obesity, anorexia and bulimia have also been linked to stress.

You don't have to have a weak heart for these problems to shake up your life. Emotional stress is among the biggest triggers for serious heart conditions like heart failure. This is why people should try to avoid acute stress wherever possible or learn how better to manage unavoidable stress (as we've stated, everybody will react in different ways to stress, with some better able to handle their emotions).

 

Stress can lead to medical complications.
Stress can have harmful effects on your body, such as the development of asthma. Photo on VisualHunt

Premature death

According to some studies, those in naturally stressful situations such as caregivers for a relative have a much higher rate of death than others their age who are not caring for a spouse, sibling or parent.

Other Serious Health Complications

Asthma

If you already suffer from asthma, then stress could cause your condition to worsen, according to studies.

What's more, if you are severely stressed, then this can come out in your children via them developing a form of asthma. Parental stress is a very tricky one to handle, particularly because of the stresses and difficulties that modern parents can face when trying to balance parenthood and work responsibilities, as well as the air pollution that people are exposed to in cities and the fact that some households are exposed to cigarette smoke during pregnancy and early years.

Anxiety or panic attacks

ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America) describes an anxiety attack as follows:

"A panic attack is the abrupt onset of intense fear or discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes and includes at least four of the following symptoms: Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate. Sweating. Trembling or shaking. Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering."

This can be terrifying, especially when taken for a heart attack. Stressful situations can cause these scary attacks to occur as a one-off, or more regularly.

Obesity, anorexia and bulimia

When you get stressed, sometimes you eat. Sometimes it affects you in a different way and makes you not want to eat, or unable to stomach the food that you have in your tummy. Regardless of whether you increase or decrease your diet, any changes can cause a risk. Stress has been related to a higher level of the hormone cortisol, which is said to increase the amount that gets deposited in your abdomen and thus poses serious health risks.

A lack of a nutritious diet can lead to becoming weak, unwell and ultimately more stressed.

Diabetes

Stress can have a negative effect on people with pre-existing diabetes in that can increase their need for excessive eating and drinking, as well as raising their glucose levels (for those with type 2 diabetes).

Headaches and migraines

Unsurprisingly, stress is one of the most common triggers for tension headaches or migraines, which feel literally like a build-up of pressure in the head.

WebMD states that:

"Studies show that many different types of stress or intense emotions are linked to migraine. Anxiety, excitement, tension, and shock are some prime examples.

Some people say they get migraine when their stress eases. They're sometimes called "weekend headaches" or “letdown migraine” because they might show up on a relaxing Saturday or Sunday at home after a stressful week at work."

Don;t ignore unusual headaches.
One common sign of stress is regular headaches. Photo on Visualhunt

Depression and anxiety

Again, it comes as no surprise that stress can cause depression and anxiety, with most of these cases being caused by work-related stress. When stress is prolonged, it can be very hard to see an end to the negative feelings and this is why many people become depressed.

How do you know when you are just stressed or if you are depressed?

Mental Health America says:

"Stress is good if it motivates you but it's bad if it wears you down. Many factors can contribute to the stress you experience, and this stress can cause changes in your body that affect your overall physical, mental, and emotional health.

Depression is more serious and long-lasting than stress, and requires a different kind of help. In a 2010 survey by the American College Health Association, 28% of college students reported feeling so depressed at some point they had trouble functioning, and 8% sought treatment for depression.

The good news is that depression is a highly treatable condition. However, it's not something you can snap out of by yourself, so it's important to get help."

Gastrointestinal problems

"Stress-induced gastritis—also referred to as stress-related erosive syndrome, stress ulcer syndrome, and stress-related mucosal disease—can cause mucosal erosions and superficial hemorrhages in patients who are critically ill or in those who are under extreme physiologic stress, resulting in minimal-to-severe gastrointestinal (GI) blood loss and leading to blood transfusion if not addressed in time." - MedScape

Turning Stress Into Positivity

So, if you want to find ways to actually make stress a positive experience for you and those around you, then why not consider these tips!

Act on it

When you're stressed, it's so easy to simply do nothing and wallow in your negativity. But doing something is better than nothing so get up, use it as a driving force and act on it!

Get help from others

You're only human, so sometimes you can't juggle all of the things you need to do alone. There should be no shame in asking people for help and, what's more, working with other people can make an experience more fun.

Learn from previous struggles

If you are somebody who doesn't respond well to pressure or who has a history of suffering from anxiety, then you must learn to listen to your body and know when to stop. If you are starting to feel under pressure at work, know that it is time you need a break and be open with your manager. They'd much rather you had a day or two of unplanned leave to recoup rather than pushing yourself to the limit then being unwell for two weeks.

“In times of great stress or adversity, it's always best to keep busy, to plow your anger and your energy into something positive.” – Lee Iacocca 

Clearly, we couldn't agree more!

Check out these strategies for managing stress.

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Jess