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How to Manage Stress?

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How to Manage Stress?

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Recently, stress has been considered a critical contributory factor in many medical conditions. This article discusses the various ways to overcome stress.

Written by

Dr. Lalit Kumar

Medically reviewed by

iCliniq medical review team

Published At July 4, 2014
Reviewed AtNovember 12, 2022

What Is Stress?

Stress is a physical, mental, or emotional adjustment by the body to environmental changes. It is a normal human reaction that can happen to anyone. Whenever a human experiences any changes or challenges (stressors), the body reacts to them and produces a physical and mental response. The response is referred to as stress.

This response of the body helps to adjust to new situations. In short bursts, stress can be positive as it keeps the body alert, motivated, and avoiding danger. But when it lasts long without any relief, it can be a serious problem.

What Are the Types of Stress?

Stress is a normal feeling which can be divided into two types which include:

Acute Stress - It is short-term stress that goes away quickly. This helps the individual to manage dangerous situations. Everyone can experience acute stress in situations such as:

  • Slamming on the brakes.

  • Fight with anyone.

  • Ski down a steep slope.

  • It can also occur when a person does something new or exciting.

Chronic Stress - This type of stress lasts for a longer period. Any stress that goes on for weeks or months is considered chronic stress. People can become so used to chronic stress that they do not realize it is a problem. Moreover, if it is not managed soon, it can lead to health problems.

What Are the Causes of Stress?

The causes of stress can vary among different people. A person can have stress from good as well as bad challenges. Some of the common sources of stress include:

  • Death of a near one or close family member.

  • Getting divorced or married.

  • Starting a new job.

  • Financial problems.

  • Having a baby.

  • Work stress.

  • Having serious illness.

  • Issues at work or home.

What Are the Effects of Stress on the Body?

The body responds to stress by releasing hormones, which help the body become more alert, making muscles tense and increasing the pulse rate. These reactions are good in short-term stress, which is how the body protects itself.

However, in chronic stress, the body stays alert without any danger, which can lead to various health problems with time.

The physical changes due to stress can include:

  • Sweating.

  • Pain in the back or chest.

  • Cramps or muscle spasms.

  • Fainting.

  • Headaches.

  • Nervous twitches.

Emotional changes may include:

  • Anger.

  • Concentration problems.

  • Fatigue.

  • Feeling of insecurity.

  • Irritability.

  • Nail biting.

  • Restlessness.

  • Sadness.

Behavioral changes include:

  • Eating too much or too little.

  • Higher tobacco consumption.

  • Sudden angry outbursts.

  • Social withdrawal.

  • Drug and alcohol misuse.

  • Frequent crying.

  • Relationship problems.

In case of too much stress, the following health problems can be seen:

  • Diarrhea or constipation.

  • Headaches.

  • Weight loss or gain.

  • Sexual problems.

  • Stiff jaw or neck.

  • Tiredness.

  • Stomach upset.

  • Lack of energy or focus.

  • Use of alcohol or drugs to relax.

  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much.

What Are the Consequences of Chronic Stress?

Chronic stress can lead to various health problems, which include:

  • Cardiovascular diseases including heart disease, abnormal heart rhythms, heart attacks, high blood pressure, and strokes.

  • Mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and personality disorders.

  • Obesity and other eating disorders.

  • Sexual problems such as infertility, loss of sexual desire, and premature ejaculation in men.

  • Skin and hair problems include acne, eczema, and permanent hair loss.

  • Menstrual problems.

  • Gastrointestinal problems, such as gastritis, ulcerative colitis, and irritable colon.

How Is Stress Diagnosed?

Stress varies from person to person and cannot be measured with a single test. It can only be determined by the patient himself whether it is present and how severe it is. The healthcare provider can use a questionnaire to understand the condition. In the case of chronic stress, the symptoms of the patient can be assessed to determine the severity of the condition.

What Is the Treatment of Stress?

The treatment of stress usually involves self-help, and certain medications can be provided to cure the disease in the case of underlying conditions. For example, anti-depressants can be prescribed for conditions like depression or anxiety. However, sometimes anti-depressants can adversely affect the body and worsen the condition.

How to Manage Stress?

Stress can be managed by following some lifestyle measures. Three essential things that should be kept in mind to deal with stress include:

1. Recognizing the Stressors:

The first step in managing stress is recognizing and identifying the situations or stressors that cause it. Once people understand what is causing stress, they can devise ways to deal with it.

2. Avoid Harmful Stress-Relieving Habits:

People who feel stressed may start making unhealthy habits to help them relax, including:

  • Overeating.

  • Drinking alcohol.

  • Taking drugs.

  • Smoking cigarettes.

  • Sleeping too much or not sleeping enough.

These habits may initially make a person feel better but may cause serious health issues like addiction. So instead, a patient should go for healthy ways to help reduce stress.

3. Following Healthy Lifestyle Measures:

There are many healthy ways to manage stress, which can be followed to lead a healthy and stress-free life, such as:

  • Avoiding Stressful Conditions - Patients should work on identifying the stressors and try to remove themselves from the source of the stress.

  • Moving On - Patients should recognize the things they cannot change and try to move on, accepting reality. For example, situations like the death of someone close.

  • Do Exercise - Physical activity is one of the best methods to divert the mind. Exercising helps in the secretion of chemicals that make a person feel good. It can help positively release frustration and built-up energy.

  • Having a Positive Attitude - A person should maintain a positive attitude towards various challenges. This can be done by replacing negative thoughts with positive ones.

  • Try New Ways To Relax - People should do more stuff they like and try relaxing exercises, such as yoga or meditation.

  • Connecting With Loved Ones - Talking is the best medicine for dealing with stress. Patients should share their feelings and concerns with their family and friends, which will help them feel relaxed.

  • Getting Enough Sleep - Good sleep can help a person think clearer and wake up with more energy.

  • Maintaining A Healthy Diet - Eating healthy and balanced diet help keep the body and mind active and healthy, whereas a poor diet can cause health issues and additional stress.


Getting stressed is normal, and the body returns to a normal state as the stressor goes away. But in cases with long-term stress, patients can feel behavioral or emotional changes. Self-care, meditation, and lifestyle changes are the best ways to deal with it. Patients who feel overwhelmed should always speak with their close ones or to a doctor to help them deal with the condition.

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Dr. Lalit Kumar

Family Physician


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