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The month of April is a month dedicated to bringing awareness to stress. According to World Health Organization [1] “stress is a state of worry or mental tension caused by a difficult situation.” All humans experience stress in their lifetime; they might experience it in different ways and might also react differently to it, but it is a reaction that is present in everyone. Our day-to-day emotions can create certain emotions, and sometimes, these emotions can bring stress into our lives. Other common factors that might cause stress include financial situations, work, relationships, etc. Even though stress is a very common response, it brings many different reactions in our bodies that might not be ideal; this depends on many things, such as how often it is being experienced and the level of intensity.


          Excessive amounts of stress can provoke symptoms in the body that can lead to difficulty in performing daily functions. As the American Psychological Association [2] explains, the changes that come with stress affect almost every system in the body and influence people’s behavior. One very important tool to learn is to identify your stressors and find ways to avoid them like making plans ahead of time. For example, if big crowds at the grocery store are a stressor, then perhaps visiting very early in the morning or later at night might help. Unfortunately avoiding stressors is not always an option or not always possible, if this is the case, then finding ways to manage your stress is necessary.


There are four main types of stress [3]:

•     Acute: This type of stress is the one of the most common types, this is the one usually felt on the day-to-day, it is short term and goes away fast. An example of acute stress can be when you almost get in a car accident, you experience stress in the moment and might last a little bit but will go away relatively soon.

•     Chronic: This type of stress is the one that lasts longer and is consistent. An example of this type of stress is having a job that requires too much of you, this can bring a considerable amount of stress into your life as it is a daily ongoing occurrence that gives you that reaction.

•     Episodic acute stress: This type of stress is when a person continually experiences acute stress. An example of episodic stress can be when a person takes on too many responsibilities that become almost impossible for one person, leading to experiencing acute stress frequently.

•     Eustress: This type of stress is the good type of stress or as it is usually defined, “beneficial stress”. This type of stress usually happens when we face something fun, challenging, or exciting. An example of this can be when you are a speaker at a conference, this can bring stress and at the same time satisfaction.


Different ways stress is felt and how it could show up in the body:

•    Worry: When you are constantly having that feeling of worry and cannot stop thinking about the thing that is bothering you.

•    Headaches: At times over stress can affect your physical health; this can show up as headaches.

•    Stomach Aches: It could begin with stomach aches, but if not treated, they can evolve to the point where the aches could become digestive problems.

•    Sleep disruption: stress can even affect your sleep; it can cause difficulty sleeping through the night or having the feeling of restlessness.

•    Extreme Fatigue: Because stress causes the body to go on fight or flight mode and this may cause exhaustion.

•    Irritability: Constantly being stressed can cause mood shifts and irritability.

•    Muscle Tension: Being constantly stressed can cause muscles to become tense.


Techniques to manage stress and help your body deal with symptoms caused by it:

•    Nature: studies show that going for a walk in nature can be conducive to a better mood and helps relax the body.

•    Fresh air: Going out and breathing fresh air can also help reduce stress.

•    Breathing exercises: Taking control of your breath by focusing on your breathing, as well as breathing with intention by taking long deep inhales and exhaling long and deep, this can help calm your nervous system.

•    Meditation: this technique is very helpful for many aspects of your life, including stress management. Nowadays with the help of technology there are many platforms that offer guided meditations specifically designed to help manage stress.

•    Yoga and exercise: Both yoga and exercise in general are also very helpful as they help our body release tensions that have been accumulated throughout the day as well as helping reach a point of relaxation.

•    Sleep: Having a consistent and good sleep routine is very important as it provides your body with needed processes that can help in many ways, not only physically but mentally and emotionally as well.


These stress management techniques are very helpful, but it is important to keep in mind that they also go along with a healthy lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle includes exercise, a nutrient-rich diet, good hydration, good sleep, and mental health care. Identifying your stressors and learning ways to manage your stress is very important as it can affect your day-to-day as well as your overall health, mood, relationships, etc. As stress is not something that can just be avoided, it is important to find ways to help yourself cope with it. If your stress is not reduced after trying the stress management techniques, you may want to consider talking to your PCP so that they can assess the situation and guide you in the right direction.



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