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What you need to know about stress

Stress is the physical or mental response to an external cause, such as pressure to preform at work or having an illness. A stressor may be a one-time or short-term occurrence, or it can happen repeatedly over a long time. Everyone experiences stress, and sometimes that stress can feel overwhelming. You may be at risk for an anxiety disorder if it feels like you can’t manage the stress and if the symptoms of your stress interfere with your everyday life, cause you to avoid doing things, and seem to be always present.


It’s important to set boundaries and identify triggers that contributes to the stress in your life. However, not all stress is bad. It can make you more aware of things around you and keep you more focused. Even though we all handle stress differently, our body responds the same way dealing with challenging situations. It causes hormonal, respiratory, cardiovascular, and nervous system changes. For example, stress can make your heart beat faster, cause rapid breathing, sweat, and tense up. It can also give you a burst of energy.

This is known as the body’s “fight-or-flight response.” It’s this chemical reaction that prepares your body for a physical reaction because it thinks it’s under attack. This type of stress helped our human ancestors survive in nature.

There are two types of stress, acute and chronic.

This information was sourced from

Stressed Man

Acute Stress

Sometimes you can feel stressed for a short period of time. Typically, it’s nothing to worry about. Like when you need to hand in a project, or you have to present a project in front of a group of people. These types of positive stressors are short-lived, and your body’s way of helping you get through what could be a tough situation.

Chronic Stress

If you let your stress spiral on for too long, it can have damaging effects on your physical, mental, and emotional health, especially if it becomes chronic. You need to be aware of the warning signs of chronic stress so you can take care of it.

Physical effects of chronic stress include:


Emotional effects of chronic stress include:

  • Moodiness

  • Anxiety

  • Restlessness

  • Lack of motivation

  • Irritability


Signs of stress overload:

  • Panic attacks

  • Worrying all the time

  • Feeling you’re under constant pressure

  • Drinking or doing drugs to deal with your stress

  • Overeating

  • Smoking

  • Depression

  • Withdrawal from family and friends

Coping with stress

  • Recognize what causes you stress, either at home or at work and set boundaries to reduce your symptoms. Learn to say NO.

  • Try not to take on too much and prioritize your goals. Engage in self-compassion by being more forgiving when you don’t get to everything.

  • Being self-critical can add to your stress. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones. 

  • Create a network of close friends and co-workers you can go to when stress starts to build. A hobby or a cause to volunteer for can be good outlets.

  • Cut down on smoking and drinking. While alcohol and tobacco have had a reputation for helping you relax, they actually can make you more anxious.

  • Eat a well-balanced diet to keep your body healthy and better able to handle stress. Dark chocolate and foods rich in vitamin C, like oranges and grapefruits, may lower stress hormones.

  • A 15- to 20-minute walk three times a week can break up your day and help you shake off stress.

  • Meditation deep breathing, guided imagery or other relaxation techniques can help quiet your mind.

  • Get a good night’s sleep. You may need to cut down on caffeine during the day and screen time at night.


If you’re having trouble managing stress or your reaction to a certain event is more intense and lasts longer than usual, it’s a good idea to talk with your family doctor who can help. Depending on the outcome, you may be referred to a mental health professional who can help you navigate stress management exercises.

The above information was sourced from

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