World Mental Health Day
Everyone feels psychologically stressed sometimes. People may also go through all kinds of stressful situations that may become part of their daily lives. Low-level stress can be beneficial or stimulating, and there are many things that can be done to help deal with stressful events. There are simple steps you can take to deal with feelings of stress, tension or exhaustion.
It is a feeling that you are under abnormal stress. It can come from various aspects of the day (e.g. increased workload, transition period, family argument, or new and existing financial concerns). You may find that they have a cumulative effect, as if there is a buildup of stress. During these situations, you may feel upset, and your body may create a response to stress, anxiety and irritability. This can result in a variety of physical symptoms and change the way you act. It can also make you experience more intense emotions. Stress can affect you physically and emotionally in multiple ways, and to varying degrees.
Possible causes of stress:
Stress affects people differently. Moreover, the causes of stress vary from a person to another, and the level of stress that you feel comfortable with may be higher or lower for others around you. Tense feelings usually occur when we feel that we do not have the resources to manage the challenges we face. Stress at work, school, home, illness, or difficult or sudden life events can lead to stress. Some possible causes include:
- Individual genetics, upbringing, and experience.
- Personal life and relationship difficulties.
- Major or unexpected life changes (e.g. moving out, having a baby, starting to look after someone).
- Financial difficulties (e.g. debt, or struggles to afford daily necessities).
- Health problems of a loved one.
- Pregnancy and children.
- Housing problems.
- Difficult or unstable work environment.
- A feeling of loneliness and lack of support.
- Loss in all its forms, whether a loved one, a job, etc.
Symptoms of stress:
Stress can cause many different symptoms, and this can affect how you feel physically and mentally, as well as how you act.
Physical side effects:
- Headache or dizziness
- Muscle stiffness or pain
- Stomach problems
- Chest pain or fast heart rate
- Sexual problems
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty making decisions
- Constant worry
- Little or too much sleep
- Little or too much eating
- Avoiding places or people
- Smoking, and drug and alcohol use.
When to see a doctor?
- When you feel any psychological change
- When trauma, calamity, or any cause of stress occurs
- When you can't control your stress, hindering your social life
Excessive or prolonged stress can lead to physical problems, including a decreased immunity, digestive and intestinal difficulties (e.g. IBS) or mental health problems (e.g. Depression). It is important to manage stress, and keep it at a healthy level to prevent long-term damage to the body and brain.
How to manage stress?
- Eliminate stress triggers: You can't always escape stressful situations or avoid a problem; however, stress reduction can be attempted by assessing whether the stressful situation can be changed, perhaps by giving up some responsibility, lowering standards, or asking for help.
- Social support: Strong social support can improve stress resilience. Some friends or family members may be good at listening; so try to get help from those closest to you.
- Getting good nutrition: When faced with stress, the central nervous system releases adrenaline and cortisol. This affects the digestive system. Moreover, acute stress can kill your appetite. But the secretion of the hormone cortisol during chronic stress can cause cravings for fat and sugar.
- Relaxing muscles: Since stress causes muscle tension, it can lead to back pain and general fatigue. So it is best to combat stress and its symptoms through stretching exercises, massages, warm baths, or progressive muscle relaxation. It is a method that has been shown to reduce anxiety and improve mental health in general.
- Maintaining quiet sleep: Stress during the day affects sleep at night. Losing can affect perception and mood.
- Physical fitness: Regular physical activity not only improves sleep; but also directly combats stress.
- Maintaining fun activities and hobbies: When life gets tough people often leave their leisure activities. But isolating yourself from pleasure can be counter-productive. Therefore, opportunities to engage in hobbies and enjoyable activities should be seized.
- Asking for help: When you feel overwhelmed and know self-help has not been helpful, find a psychologist or other mental health providers who can help you learn how to effectively manage stress.
Saudi Ministry of Health