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When a person is depressed what exactly is going on inside the mind. Is there any physical changes in the brain and the body or depression is just a psychological state?
What Is Stress?
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A widely accepted definition of stress, attributed to psychologist and professor Richard Lazarus, is, “a condition or feeling experienced when a person perceives that demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilize.”
It means that we experience stress if we believe that we don’t have the time, resources, or knowledge to handle a situation. In short, we experience stress when we feel “out of control.”
It also means that different people handle stress differently, in different situations: you’ll handle stress better if you’re confident in your ability if you can change the situation to take control, and if you feel that you have the help and support needed to do a good job.
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Reactions to Stress
We have two instinctive reactions that make up our stress response. These are the “fight or flight” response, and the General Adaptation Syndrome. Both of these reactions can happen at the same time.
Fight or Flight
Walter Cannon identified the “fight or flight” response as early as 1932. It’s a basic, short-term survival response, which is triggered when we experience a shock, or when we see something that we perceive as a threat.
Our brains then release stress hormones that prepare the body to either “fly” from the threat, or “fight” it. This energizes us, but it also makes us excitable, anxious, and irritable.
The problem with the fight or flight response is that, although it helps us deal with life-threatening events, we can also experience it in everyday situations – for example, when we have to work to short deadlines, when we speak in public, or when we experience conflict with others.
In these types of situations, a calm, rational, controlled, and socially-sensitive approach is often more appropriate.
Signs of Stress
Everyone reacts to stress differently. However, some common signs and symptoms of the fight response include:
Cold or sweaty hands and feet.
Frequent heartburn, stomach pain, or nausea.
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Persistent difficulty concentrating.
Obsessive or compulsive behaviors.
Social withdrawal or isolation.
Irritability and angry episodes.
Significant weight gain or loss.
Consistent feelings of being overwhelmed or overloaded.
- Excessive sleeping, or insomnia.
How to Manage Stress
The first step in managing stress is to understand where these feeling is coming from.
Keep a stress diary to identify the causes of short-term or frequent stress in your life. As you write down events, think about why this situation stresses you out. Also, use the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale to identify specific events that could put you at risk of long-term stress.
Next, list these stressors in order of their impact. Which affect your health and well-being most? & which affect your work and productivity?
Then, consider using some of the approaches below to manage your stress. You’ll likely be able to use a mix of strategies from each area.
1. Action-Oriented Approaches
With action-oriented approaches, you take action to change the stressful situations.
Managing Your Time
Your workload can cause stress if you don’t manage your time well. This can be a key source of stress for very many people.
Take our time management quiz to identify where you can improve, & make sure that you use time management tools such as To-Do Lists, Action Programs, & Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Principle to manage your priorities.
Then use Job Analysis to think about what’s most important in your role, so that you can prioritize your work more effectively. It helps you reduce stress because you get the greatest return on your efforts, and you minimize the time you spend on low-value activities.
Also, avoid multitasking, only check email at certain times, and don’t use electronic devices for a while before going to bed, so that you use this time to “switch off” fully.
2. Emotion-Oriented Approaches
Emotion-oriented approaches are useful when the stress you’re experiencing comes from the way that you perceive a situation.
To change how you think about stressful situations:
Use Cognitive Restructuring, ABC Technique, & Thought Awareness, and Positive Thinking, Rational Thinking to change the way that you perceive stressful events.
Take our positive thinking quiz to learn how to think more positively.
Use Affirmations and Imagery to overcome short-term negative thinking, so that you feel more positive about stressful situations.
3. Acceptance-Oriented Approaches
Acceptance-oriented approaches apply to situations where you have no power to change what happens, and where situations are genuinely bad.
To build your defenses against stress:
Use techniques like meditation and physical relaxation to calm yourself when you feel stressed.
Get enough exercise and sleep, and learn how to make the most of your downtime, so that you can recover from stressful events.
Learn how to cope with change and build resilience, so that you can overcome setbacks.
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