What is stress?

What is Stress

First, we will discuss that what is stress? Stress is the body’s way to respond to any kind of threat or need. When you sense some kind of real or imaginative danger, then the body’s defenses mechanism kicks into high gear in a quick / automatic process, which is known as the “fight-or-flight” reaction, or the “stress response.”

The response to the stress is the body’s way of protection. When it properly works, it helps you to stay focused / energetic and alert. Also, in situations of emergency, it can save your life. It gives you extra strength to defend and protect yourself. For example, spurring you to slam on the brakes to protection from a car accident.

Impacts of Stress

Impacts and effects of stress on body and mind

Stress can have so many positive impacts / aspects, sometimes it also known as “eustress.” Just like it may help you rise, to get over or avoid difficulties / challenges like keeping you on toes during a work presentation. It sharpens the concentration when you’re attempting a free throw of a winning game. It can help while driving you to study for an exam instead of watching TV.

However, not every type of anxiety / stress is bad, beyond some certain point or level, it stops being helpful, then it can start to cause big impacts and damage. Type of stress / anxiety that has devastating feel can have a negative effect / impact on the health, mood / productivity along with relationships and the quality of life.

If you often find yourself frazzled feeling and overwhelmed, then it’s time to take action to bring back the balance of nervous system. You can easily save / protect yourself and improve how you feel / think, just by knowing that how to recognize the symptoms / signs of chronic type of stress. You should learn what is stress and take steps to reduce its harmful and negative effects.

How stress works: The stress response

How stress work

When you feel threat or danger, stress or “fight or flight” response of the body is triggered automatically. The nervous system releases a stress hormones flood. It includes cortisol and adrenaline which rouse the body for emergency and immediate action.

The heart beat gets faster, muscles can be tightened, there can be a rise in blood pressure, breath will be going rapid, and your senses may become sharper. These physical impacts and changes increase the strength and stamina and it speeds up your reaction time. It can enhance the focus by preparing you to either fight or flee from the coming danger.

Stress doesn’t always look stressful

There are three most common ways people respond when they’re overwhelmed / affected by stress:

Foot on the gas.

This is an angry, agitated or “fight” type of stress response. You may feel heated, keyed up, overly emotional and will be unable to sit still.

Foot on the brake.

In this, you may feel withdrawn / depressed or you can get “flight” stress response. You feel shut down or pull away. You may feel space out and show very little emotions or energy.

Foot on both gas and brakes.

It is a tense or “freeze” type stress response. You may become frozen and feel pressure, and you can’t do anything. You can look more paralyzed, but from inside you’re extremely agitated.

Distress vs. Eustress

Distress vs Eustress

It can be helpful sometimes to think of stress as like on a spectrum. At one side, you have positive type of stress called “eustress”, these are the levels of stress that are manageable. Also, it can motivate you to get over the hardships / challenges at work / school or having in the personal life. However, eustress may get you out of the comfort zone. It may help you to get over the challenge of a job interview / first date. For example, a complete a project at school or work, that means learning new skills and stretching yourself.

On the other hand of the spectrum, you may have “distress”. It is the stress that makes you feel like overwhelmed. This negative type of stress can damage the mood and outlook. It can disrupt the sleep and trigger health issues like anxiety and depression. Distress usually happened when you may feel that you’re under more anxiety / stress than you can handle easily. Whether it’s from feeling of too busy at work, may not have enough money or suffering a bereavement or illness.

Everyone experiences stress differently

Experience different kind of stress

Your sole perception of stress / anxiety can also have the impact whether you feel eustress positively or negative distress in a situation. Just like if a work deadline cause worry for you, exhausted or overwhelmed, then you’ll likely experience distress. However, if the same work deadline makes you excited it could have positive effect on your career. This type of stress you experience is more likely to be eustress, which is helpful and motivating.

Similarly, something that is very stressful for one person may not be the same for someone else. They may even enjoy it more. While many of us usually terrified of getting up and speak in front of people. Just like others live for the spotlight. Sometimes, you may enjoy helping and caring for your elderly parents while your siblings may find the needs of caretaking more stressful and overwhelming.

Why stress can make you sick?

What is stress can make you sick

The nervous system of your body isn’t very good at distinguishing between the threat of emotion or physical. If you’re very stressed with an argument having with a friend, a deadline of work, or a heavy bill, your body can react very strongly as if you’re facing a true situation of life-or-death. The more your system / mechanism of emergency stress, the easier / simpler it becomes to get trigger, that makes it harder to get off.

If you get stressed out very frequently, like many of us can get in today’s world, your body may exist in a state of heightened stress most of the time. So, it can lead to some serious health related issues. Chronic type stress disrupts and effects nearly every main system in the body. It can suppress the immune system of the body, can upset digestive and reproductive systems. It can increase the risk of having heart attack and stroke. Also, it can speed up the process of aging. Moreover, it can rewire the brain, which leave you more vulnerable to stress, anxiety / depression and other mental and health problems.

Health related problems that are exacerbated / caused by stress or anxiety include:

  • Anxiety and Depression.
  • Any kind of Pain.
  • Sleep problems like insomnia.
  • Autoimmune issues.
  • Different digestive problems.
  • Skin issues like eczema, stress rash / hives.
  • Heart problems / high blood pressure.
  • Weight issues.
  • Reproductive problems.
  • Problem in thinking and memory issues.

That’s why, it is important to know that what is stress.

Signs and symptoms of chronic stress

symptoms of stress

When you’re in stress, the hormones produced by the body in a situation of stress can trigger different type of emotional and physical responses which include:

  • You can feel dizzy or sick, anxious / worried or nervous, or can become tense, angry, have short-temper or even get despairing.
  • Physically, you can react by excessive sweating, experiencing muscle aches, pains in chest, blurred eyesight or itchy skin.

But many of these stress symptoms can be less noticeable. That’s because the most worrying thing about stress is how simply it can creep up on you and body. Actually, many of us simply get used to this stress. So, after a while, feeling continuous stress can start to feel simpler / familiar or even normal. You don’t notice how much it has effect on you. Even as it takes a heavy toll on the well-being and health.

That’s why it’s very important and crucial to be aware of the main symptoms of excessive stress. These symptoms include:

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Memory issues.
  • Cannot concentrate.
  • Poor judgment.
  • Seeing negative only.
  • Anxious / racing thoughts.
  • Worrying constantly.

Emotional symptoms:

  • Depression or unhappiness.
  • Anxiety / agitation.
  • Moodiness, irritability / anger.
  • Overwhelmed feeling.
  • Loneliness / isolation.
  • Other mental / emotional and health problems.

Physical symptoms:

  • Pains and Aches.
  • Diarrhea / constipation.
  • Nausea / dizziness.
  • Rapid heart rate / Chest pain.
  • Loss in sex drive.
  • Frequent colds / flu.

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Eating less or more.
  • Sleeping extra or too little.
  • Withdrawing from friends / others.
  • Procrastinating / neglecting your responsibilities.
  • Using alcohol / cigarettes or other drugs to relax.
  • Nervous habits (e.g. nail biting / pacing).

Is it anxiety or stress?

anxiety or stress

Anxiety and stress are connected closely. They share so many symptoms of same kind, like muscle tension / moodiness, and sleep, concentration and digestive issues. In fact, stress that is overwhelming can even lead to anxiety / panic attacks.

However, stress often mainly caused by a specific trigger or you can say “stressor,” just like pressure of work, a break-up, or financial issues. Once there is a change in circumstances, the stress usually starts to vanish.

A disorder of anxiety, doesn’t necessarily have a specific trigger or anything like that and the feelings of unease usually remains even when the change in circumstances have occurred and the stressor problem is resolved.

Causes of stress


The pressures type situations that mainly and actually cause stress are really known as stressors. We normally think of stressors as negative being, like an exhausting work schedule or a tough relationship. Though, anything that puts high number of demands on you, that can be stressful. Also, it includes positive events like getting married, a house buying, going to Univ. or college, or getting a promotion.

Well, not all type of stress is caused by external aspects. Stress also can be caused by some internal issues, or this stress can be self-generated, especially when you worry or over think about something, that can happen or may not happen, or have irrational thoughts / pessimistic thoughts about the life.

Finally, causes of stress depends, no less than in part, on the perception of yours about it. Something that’s cause stress to you may not faze others; they may even love / enjoy it. However, sometimes a person thrives in pressure and also performs good in a tight work deadline, another will shut it down when work demands may gets high.

Common external causes of stress include:

  • Major changes in life.
  • Work / school problems.
  • Problems in relationship.
  • Financial issues.
  • Being very busy.
  • Children / family.

Common internal causes of stress include:

  • Pessimism, a negative viewpoint about life.
  • Not accept uncertainty.
  • Thinking rigid, lack in flexibility.
  • Negative talking to self.
  • Unreal expectations / perfectionism.
  • All or nothing attitude.

Top 10 stressful life events

stressful life events

According to research, below are the top stressful life events / situations for adults that can contribute to stress / illness:

  • Death of a family member / spouse
  • Divorce
  • Separation in marriage
  • Imprisonment
  • Injury / illness
  • Marriage
  • Job loss
  • Reconciliation in marriage.
  • Retirement

What is stressful for you?

Whatever kind of event or situation is causing stress for you, there are many ways of coping with the issues and regaining the balance. Some of life’s common causes of stress include:

Stress at Job / work

Stress at Job work iveals

While some types of workplace stress are normal, unnecessary stress can interfere with the productivity / performance. It can impact your physical / emotional health and affect the relationships and life at home. It can also determine the difference between job failure and success. Whatever the work demands / its ambitions, there are steps and some methods that you can adopt to save yourself from the adverse effects of anxiety / stress. You can improve your satisfaction of job and improve the overall well-being in and out of your job.

Job loss / unemployment stress

unemployment jobless

Losing job is one of the most stressful experiences of life. Also, it is normal to get angry, hurt / or get depressed, grieve for all the lost things, or get anxious / frustrated about the coming things or future. Unemployment and Job loss includes a lot of change at once. It can rock your sense of self-esteem and purpose. However, the stress / anxiety can be devastating but there are many steps that you can take to get out of the difficult period by becoming stronger / more resilient and with a new sense of purpose.

Financial stress

financial problems

From all over the world and from different fields of life, many of us are have to deal with financial stress / financial uncertainty at this tough time. Whether the problems caused from a work loss / escalating debt, a combination of factors, unexpected expenses or financial worries are one of the most common causes of stress in modern life. But there are methods and ways to get through these tough economic situations, ease stress / anxiety and regain control of the finances.


Retirement problems

It doesn’t matter that how much you look forward to it, retiring from job / work can cause stress along with benefits. At first, escaping the daily tough routine and a long commute can felt like a good relief. However, after a few months, you may feel sense of loss of identity / meaning and purpose that came with job or work. You may miss the structure it gave the days and the social impact of having co-workers. There are many healthy methods to help you get through the stress of retirement.

Caregiver stress


The demands and needs of caregiving can get overwhelming. Especially when you feel that you are over your head or have very little control over situation. If this type of stress or caregiving is left without treatment, then it can take a deep effect on overall health / relationships and state of body & mind. Eventually it can lead to burnout. However, there are many things you can do to get of this stress of caregiving that we will discuss in this article.

Grief / loss

Grief loss

Coping with the any kind of loss, loss of someone or something you love, is one of life’s biggest cause of stress. Usually, the pain / stress of loss can be overwhelming. You may feel different types of unexpected or difficult feelings & emotions, it varies from shock or anger to disbelief. It can also include guilt and deep kind of sadness. While there is no wrong or right method to grieve, there are many healthy practices to cope with that pain.

How much stress can be too much?

too much stress

Due to the widespread damage anxiety / stress can cause, it’s important to know the own limit. It can be differing from person to person that how much stress is “too much”. Some people may be able to cope with the punches of life. While many others tend to crumble due to small obstacles / frustrations. Some people even bloom on the excitement of a lifestyle of high stress.

Aspects that influence the level of stress tolerance:

stress tolerance

The support networks.

A good and strong network of supportive family / friends / members is a huge barrier against the stress. When you have good family or friends you can count on, pressures of life don’t seem as devastating. On the other hand, the lonelier and more isolated life style can have greater the risk of submitting to stress.

The sense of control.

If you have confidence / sense of control in yourself and the ability to influence events and persevere through difficulties / challenges, it will be easier to avoid stress. However, if you believe that don’t have control or have little control over the life, and that you’re at the mercy of the events / environment and circumstances, the stress is more likely to get over you.

Your attitude / outlook.

It makes a huge difference in the ability to handle stress that how you look at life and its certain challenges. If you are generally optimistic / hopeful, then you will be less exposed. People who are strong enough, tend to embrace and bear challenges. They have a good sense of humor and they believe in a higher purpose. Also, they accept change as certain part of the life.

Ability to deal with the emotions.

If you have no idea that how to calm / soothe yourself while you are sad / angry, or troubled, you are more likely to get stressed / agitated. If you have the capability to identify and deal stress appropriately with the emotions then it can increase the tolerance to anxiety / stress and help you to get back from adversity.

Knowledge / preparation.

The more you know about what is stress or stressful situation, the easier it is to avoid and cope. Just like, if you go into surgery by having a realistic picture of what to expect post-operation, a recovery that is painful will be less stressful than if you are expecting to get back instantly.

How well you handle stress in life?

handle stress in life

So, you need to ask yourself which of below statements apply to you:

  • I have family / friends that I confide in when I’m feeling extreme pressure, they make me feel better.
  • I feel comfortable in explaining that how I feel when something is worrying me.
  • Normally, I feel in my life to have full control and feeling confident about my ability to handle stress or whatever comes my way.
  • I can find reasons to get laugh and feel grateful, even when I am going through problems.
  • Even when I am busy, I give priority to sleep / exercise, and eating right.
  • I’m able to get myself calm down when I feel stressful / overwhelmed.

Every “yes” in these are answer that represents an important skill of stress coping. Every “no” represents the area to work on to deal better with stress and to become stronger.

Improving ability to handle stress

Improving the abilities that how well you handle anxiety and stress means making your flexibility. The more resilient you become, the better you’re able to get over stress, also you can cope with uncertainty / adversity, and get over from setbacks in life.

Resilience is not a quality that you get it by birth or not. However, it’s something that you can learn to have and built over the time.

Improving resilience can help to:

  • Stay focused / productive in very stressful situations.
  • Improve how well you can communicate while under pressure.
  • Feel more confident and able when facing stress / hardships / setbacks or uncertainty.
  • Maintaining the control on your emotions while you’re stressed, even strong against anger, anxiety or despair.

Tips to avoid stress and build resilience

Reduce Stress in your life

Get moving.

Improving your activity level is one tactic that you can employ now to help get over the stress and start to feel comfortable. Regular exercise can improve the mood and can serve as a distraction from all the worries. Get moving allows to break out of the cycle of negative / worrying thoughts that can lead to stress and anxiety. Rhythmic exercises like walking, running / swimming and dancing are mainly effective. Especially if you exercise mindfully by focusing the attention on your physical sensations that you experience.

Connect with others.

The simple and easy practice of talking with others, like face to face can trigger the type of hormones that relieve anxiety / stress symptoms when you’re feeling insecure, threat or agitated. Also, just a friendly look or exchange of few kind words from another person can help calm and soothe the nervous system. So, spend time with your family or people who can improve the mood and don’t let your responsibilities to keep you away from having a good social life. If you don’t have any relationships like that, then make it a priority to build a stronger and more satisfying connections with your loved ones.

Engage the senses.

Another quick method to relieve stress is by engaging your senses / sight, sound, smell, touch, taste or movement. Main point is to find the sensory input that may works most for you. So, does listening to uplifting song make you good / calm? Or smelling good coffee gives comfort? Everyone can respond differently to sensory input, so experiment needed to find what works best.

Learn to relax.

Though, you can’t completely eliminate stress from life sometimes, but you can control that how much it can have impact on you. Many relaxation techniques like yoga / meditation and deep breathing can activate the body’s response to relaxation, a state of relaxation that is opposite of the anxiety or stress response. When you practiced regularly, these activities or practices can reduce the everyday stress levels and can boost the feelings of serenity and joy. They also increase capability to stay calm and relaxed under the pressure and stress.

Eat a healthy food.

The food you use can improve or can worsen the mood and can affect the ability to cope with stress and anxiety. Getting a diet full of processed / convenience food, refined carbohydrates along with sugary snacks can worsen the symptoms of stress. However, a diet full of fresh fruits / vegetables/ good protein and omega-3 fatty acids, can help to better cope with ups / downs of life.

You can Read our Article on Healthy Food for Your Health, Fitness and Beauty

Get rest.

Feeling of tiredness can increase stress symptoms by causing irrational thinking. At the same time, chronic type of stress can disrupt the sleep. Whether have trouble getting sleep or stay asleep at night, you can get over it by reading our article on Sleep Meditation Guide: Simple Steps

Important Note:

It can be caused by medical conditions or some crucial vitamin deficiencies. So, you must have a visit to doctor for proper diagnosis.

Final Words by iveals.com

So, we are sure that now you understand that what is stress or anxiety, its causes, symptoms and also how to avoid it. We really hope this article by iveals.com will be able to help people who are getting through the difficult periods of life. If you want any further assist, please feel free to contact or you can comment down below.

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