Stress is your body’s response to threat, demand, or pressure. When you feel a threat to your physical, emotional, or psychological being, your body’s defenses switch to automatic response known as the ‘fight or flight’ response or the ‘stress response’. It is a built-in mechanism that reacts to protect your body and being from real or imagined threats.

Sometimes, recurring stress can cause a buildup of worrying thoughts that could often lead to anxiety. Anxiety is your body’s response to stress. It is a feeling of fear or worries about what’s to come.

Causes of Stress

Each person is surrounded by countless life stressors that can trigger stress responses and anxiety. Common external and internal stressors are the following:

External Causes of Stress

  • Major life changes, death of a loved one
  • Work or school demands
  • Relationship troubles
  • Financial problems
  • Being too busy with so many things
  • Family life

Internal Causes of Stress 

  • Negative outlook in life
  • Inability to accept uncertainty
  • Rigid mindset, lack of flexibility
  • Negative self-talk
  • Perfectionism/unrealistic expectations
  • All-or-nothing attitude

When working properly, the “fight or flight” response will help you stay focused, alert, and full of energy. For example in a situation where you need to defend yourself or avoid accidents, your body will respond automatically to protect yourself from imminent danger.

Chronic Stress

Continuous stress or too much exposure to stressors can leave you feeling overwhelmed and that may suddenly sneak up on you. People don’t realize the amount of stress they’re going through until they suddenly feel choked up with too many demanding events in their lives. This stress build-up can eventually lead to physical, emotional, and psychological health breakdown over a course of time if left unchecked.

Ways to Manage Stress and Anxiety

A person who is overwhelmed by a lot of life stressors can react tremendously with little tiny stressors. When you are too overwhelmed with stress and anxiety, even the simplest of things like dealing with your partner or kids can become a burdensome toil on your part. Even if you are simply running late in light traffic causes your temper to blow up. You easily get irritated and out of focus with little distractions.

Here are ways to decrease anxiety and stress whenever you feel overwhelmed in certain situations:

Calm your body and your brain

A calm mind and body relieve stress by lowering the stress hormone called cortisol and it also lowers your blood pressure. To calm your mind and body, listen to slow music, take a meditative walk, eat nutritious food, get adequate sleep, engage in social activities, do some routine exercise like yoga, and be present in the present. Be mindful of your thoughts and feelings of the moment.

Always practice these calming techniques even if you are not in a stressful situation. The more you apply these techniques, the easier you can employ them when you are facing a challenging situation.

Get therapy

There are many kinds of therapy you can seek out when you are overwhelmed with stress and anxiety. Occupational therapy will help you transition from your daily work routines to your new normal. A qualified therapist is an effective partner in your support system. They nurture and guide you in applying life skills that help you in calming your mind and body.

In a long-term facility, older people get stressed out when they feel overwhelmed with the thought of their diseases or disorders. Practicing these mind and body relaxation techniques can help them in their memory care and physical therapy if there are bodily disorders that can stress them out. Their therapist and caregivers can assist them in dealing with day to day tiny stressors with guided techniques in calming the mind and body.



About Paul Fiscus

Paul Fiscus is the director of Maplewood of Sauk Prairie.