This article and infographic were made by Rethink Mental Health Advocate, Aza
All of us experience stress everyday. We encounter stressors that greatly affect our moods, the way we behave and our overall health. Healthy stress responses from stress may be adaptive and do not threatened our health, but if stress is left untreated, long-term effects can negatively affect our health. A widely used definition of stressful situations is one in which the demands of the situation threaten to exceed the resources of the individual (Lazarus & Folkman 1984).
In a study, Claude Bernard (1865/1961) noted that the maintenance of life is critically dependent on keeping our internal milieu constant in the face of a changing environment. Additionally, Selye (1956) used the term “stress” to represent the effects of anything that seriously threatens the balance of our wellbeing. The actual or perceived threat to an organism is referred to as the “stressor” and the response to the stressor is called the “stress response.” Although stress responses evolved as adaptive processes, Selye observed that severe, prolonged stress responses might lead to tissue damage and disease.
Moreover, the occurrence of stress depends on many factors and the intensity of how we handle stress has something to do with what triggers it. Stressful life events often precede anxiety disorders as well (Faravelli & Pallanti 1989, Finlay-Jones & Brown 1981). Additionally, there is evidence that stressful life events are causal for the onset of depression (Hammen 2005, Kendler et al. 1999). Stressors like event dimensions of loss, humiliation, and danger are related to the development of major depression and generalized anxiety (Kendler et al. 2003).
It is clear that we are all vulnerable to any stressors that can threaten our over health. How we handle it has something to do with ourselves and the environment that we are living. Acute stress responses in young, healthy individuals may typically do not impose a health burden. Indeed, individuals who are optimistic and have good coping responses may benefit from such experiences and do well dealing with chronic stressors (Garmezy 1991, Glanz & Johnson 1999). In contrast, if stressors are too strong and too persistent in individuals who are biologically vulnerable because of age, genetic, or constitutional factors, stressors may lead to disease. This is most likely to happen if the person has poor and negative coping skills.
Many disorders originate from stress, especially if the stress is severe and prolonged. It is very important to pay attention to our body and its needs. One thing that can help alleviate stress is doing active coping strategies. According to Carver (1997), active coping strategies include “active coping”, which means taking action or exerting efforts to remove or circumvent the stressor; “planning”, thinking about how to confront the stressor and planning one’s coping efforts; “acceptance”, accepting the fact that the stressful event has occurred and is real; and “positive reframing”, making the best of the situation by growing from it or seeing it in a more positive light. It is important to maintain well-balanced life to avoid much stress. Moreover, seeking professional help is also a great way to address the problems that are caused by stress and can set up interventions earlier to minimize and prevent further health problems.
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