Not all stress is caused by external pressures and demands. Your stress also be self-generated. Internal causes of stress include: uncertainty or worries, pessimistic attitude, self criticism, unrealistic expectations or belief, perfectionism, low self-esteem, excessive or unexpressed anger, lack of assertiveness.
Risk factors for stress
The presence of a stressor does not automatically result in disabling stress symptoms. The degree to which any stressful situation or event impacts your daily functioning depends partly on the nature of the stressor itself and partly on your own personal and external resources.
Stress : How vulnerable are you?
The nature of the stressors Stressors that involve central aspects of your life (your marriage, your job) or chronic issues (a physical handicap, living from pay cheque to pay cheque are more likely to cause severe distress.
A crisis experience
Sudden intense crisis situations (being raped, robbed at gunpoint, or attacked by a dog) are understandably over-whelming. Without immediate intervention and treatment, debilitating stress symptoms are common.
Multiple stressors or life changes stressors are cumulative, so the more life changes or daily hassles you’re dealing with at any one time, the more intense the symptoms of stress.
Your perception of the stressor
The same stressor can have very different effects on different people. For example, public speaking stresses many out, but others thrive on it. Additionally, if you’re able to see some benefit to the situation the silver lining or a hard lesson lesson learned-the stressor is easier to swallow.
Your knowledge and preparation
The more you know about a stressful situation, including how long it will last and what to expect, the better able you’ll be to face it. For example, if you go into surgery with a realistic picture of what to expect post-up, a painful recovery will be less traumatic than if you were expecting to bounce back immediately.
Your stress tolerance
Some people roll with the punches, while others crumble at the slightest obstacle or frustration. The more confidence you have in yourself and your ability to persevere, the better able you’ll be to take a stressful situation in stride.
Your support network
As strong network of supportive friends and family members is an enormous buffer against life’s stressors. But the more lonely or isolated you are, the higher your risk to of stress.
Effects of chronic stress
Chronic stress wears you down day after day and year after year, with no visible escape. Under sustained or severe stress, even the most well-adjusted person loses the ability to adapt. When stress overwhelms our coping resources, our bodies and minds suffer.
Recent research suggests that anywhere from 60 to 90 per cent of illness is stress-related. The physical wear and tear of stress includes damage to the cardiovascular system and immune system suppression. Stress compromises your ability to fight off disease and infection, throws your digestive system off balance, makes it difficult to conceive a baby, and can even stunt growth in children.
Stress and your health
Many medical conditions are caused or exacerbated by stress, including:
Chronic pain, migraines, ulcers, heartburn, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, PMS, obesity, infertility, autoimmune, disease, irritable bowel syndrome, skin problems and emotional effects.
Chronic stress grinds away at your mental health, causing emotional damage in addition to physical ailments. Long-term stress can even rewire the brain, leaving you more vulnerable to everyday pressures and less able to cope. Over time, stress can lead to mental health problems such as anxiety depression eating disorders, and substance abuse.
Severe stress and trauma
Severe stress reactions can result from sudden, catastrophic events or traumatic experiences such as a natural disaster, sexual assault, life threatening accident, or participation in combat. After the initial shock and emotional fallout, many trauma victims gradually begin to recover from its effects. But for some people, the stress symptoms don’t go away, the body doesn’t regain its equilibrium, and life doesn’t return to normal. This severe and persisting reaction to trauma is known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Common symptoms of PTSD include:
Flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, nightmare about the trauma, avoidance of places and things associated with the trauma, hypervigilance for signs of danger, chronic irritability and tension, depression. PTSD is a serious disorder that requires professional intervention.
For more information on traumatic experience and how to recover, see Emotional and Psychological Trauma and Posttrumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Managing stress and its symptoms
While unchecked stress is undeniably damaging, there are many things you can do to control it and reduce its effects.
Coping with stress
Following a few simple stress management tips can help you minimize stressors in your life, deal with your stress symptoms in a healthy way, and buffer yourself from its negative effects.
Relaxation techniques for stress relief
Not all stress can be avoided; but when it hits, relaxation techniques such as mediation, deep breathing, and yoga can provide relief.