Stress is a fact of life. Never more so as we barrel headlong toward the ’20s of the 21st Century.
Never in the history of humankind have people been more stressed out and anxious than in this age of technology, information overload, professional and social complexity, and political pandemonium. And make no mistake, stress takes its toll, physically and emotionally.
What is stress?
You become stressed whenever a situation or an event demands more than you believe you’re able to give. This can be a response to a positive or negative event, or to an ongoing situation. The definition of stress is that it is a feeling you get when the “demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilise.”
A perfectly well-mannered, kind-hearted young woman can turn into a screeching bridezilla in the run-up to her wedding. Major changes such as weddings or moving house are among the most stressful events humans can experience. Of course, the death of a spouse or child is arguably the most stressful of all. The effects, physical and emotional, will linger for a long time to come. Sometimes it can even result in heart attack and death – a condition known as broken heart syndrome.
Today’s human stress storm
People routinely suffer chronic stress as a result of financial woes, work pressure, a bullying boss, relationship troubles, or the challenges of parenting. All these stressors may cause anxiety, irritability, depression, headaches, insomnia, and other serious physical or psychological symptoms.
But add to these the realities of real-life and cyber bullying at work or school, and you have a modern-day human stress storm never encountered before. Teenagers, in particular, are vulnerable to online bullying on social media, particularly on Facebook. However, cyber bullying can take place on any platform, via text message or email, or in forums and on gaming platforms. This is a major cause of teenage depression and has been known to result in suicide in some cases.
Handling your stress
Everybody handles stress in their own way. When severely stressed, walk away from the situation or person upsetting you. Exercise is one of the best ways to gain perspective and it is important to maintain a positive attitude. If nothing works and your health suffers as a result, see your doctor or a mental health professional.
Top 10 life-event stressors
The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale lists these 10 life events most stressful for adults, to the extent that they can make you sick.
- Death of a spouse
- Marriage separation
- Death of a close family member
- Injury or illness
- Job loss
- Marriage reconciliation
Keep an eye out for our next articles on this series, where we will discuss the topic of stress, what is causing it and how to manage it, in more detail.
By Linda Cilliers
The Content on this site is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.