Stress: Management and Relief
Everyone experiences stress at some point in life, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But too much stress, or enduring it for too long, can hurt your health. The Web has many sites to help you learn what stress is, how it affects the body, how to find stress relief, how to manage stress, and what researchers are learning about it.
There’s too much to do at work, and as usual, no time to do it. Whenever you think about the next big deadline, you begin to worry, your stomach starts aching, your heart rate speeds up; it’s the unmistakable feeling of stress. This stress response has its roots in human evolution. Its physical symptoms are part of the fight-or-flight response, a biological process designed to aid you in hazardous situations. But the human body isn’t built to withstand those reactions for long, and when it does, stress becomes harmful.
- Even positive events can lead to stress. A new job, a wedding, or a baby means adjusting to changes, which can be stressful, no matter how happy someone is about them.
- Symptoms of stress vary widely, and no two people will respond exactly the same. One of the important things to keep in mind is whether the symptoms are interfering with your daily life and relationships. If they are, it’s time to seek counseling or other help to cope with your stress.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can seriously affect a person’s life after a harrowing event, is very different from acute or even chronic stress. To learn more about post-traumatic stress disorder, see our findingDulcinea Mental Health Web Guide.
For an overview of stress and its types …
, a site of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, has interactive tutorials on a variety of topics designed for the public. The stress tutorial covers the basics of stress, has 10 common tips for preventing stress, and tips to manage unavoidable stress. Quiz questions throughout help reinforce the messages. If you don’t have a fast enough Internet connection for this multimedia presentation, the same stress information
is available as a PDF.
The Cleveland Clinic
explains the three different phases of stress and goes on to describe how to manage each of them.
The American Psychological Association’s
“Help Center” has an article describing the different types of stress, such as acute, episodic acute, and chronic. Chronic stress is the kind experienced by those who live in violent areas or who have endured long-standing trauma and turmoil.
For the symptoms of stress …
The Cleveland Clinic
has a list of stress signs and symptoms, along with tips for when you should call your doctor.
For stress in children and teens …
explains stress and its signs. This site includes tips for de-stressing, such as speaking up when teens feel their lives are “overscheduled” or too packed with activities.
How many times has this happened to you: a big event like a move or wedding is on the horizon, and you’re scrambling to get all the details sorted out. You feel stressed, and at the worst possible time (although not so unexpectedly), you get sick. What is it about stress that makes it so damaging to the body? Stressors trigger reactions that can impact several different bodily systems. In this section, there are sites that illustrate the short-term and long-term effects of stress on your body.
- The stress reaction involves the release of different types of hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. These same hormones have roles in other bodily systems, too, which is why stress can affect so many different parts of your body.
For the impact of stress on the body …
American Institute of Stress
is a nonprofit organization started by a group of psychologists, including Hans Selye, who is credited with developing one of the first models of stress and how it affects the immune system. This page introduces stress and its prevalence in society, along with some possible causes. Read about Selye
and his struggle to attribute the most appropriate name to the phenomena he was studying. Scroll past the pictures and Chinese characters to read about it.
The San Francisco Chronicle
has a useful article that details the mental and physical effects of too much stress, which include “depression, heart disease, autoimmune disorders, premature cell aging, and obesity and diabetes.” The article also describes how the body’s stress chemicals affect us, and the importance of finding stress relief techniques.
For the relationship between stress and heart attacks …
has an article about how stressful jobs can lead to heart attacks. Citing a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association
in October 2007, the article points out that a second heart attack is more likely if your job is stressful.
makes note of two studies that conclusively link stress and heart disease. Among them is a 12-year study of civil servants that found those with relationships marked by conflict and fighting also had a 34 percent higher risk of experiencing a heart problem than those without “negative close relationships.”
Although many factors in life can cause stress, there are many practical, at-home ways of managing it. In addition to techniques such as yoga, meditation, and even just sitting down with a good book, you can take steps to reduce the level of stress you experience, and prevent the onset of further stress reactions. This may require you to turn down that request to bake cookies for your kid’s soccer team, or it may be as simple as keeping track of project and paper deadlines so you don’t get nasty surprises. This section has links to help with stress reduction and management.
- Although there are many popular techniques to reduce stress, experts also say that not every method works for everyone. If you find a technique that works for you but isn’t as popular, go ahead and use it. But keep in mind that using alcohol or drugs is not considered a valid stress management technique, and does more harm than good.
- Stress management tips generally focus on what a person can do on his/her own. But chronic stress can develop into an anxiety disorder, which can require professional treatment and sometimes medication. If you suspect stress is starting to become more of an anxiety issue, try taking tests developed by the Anxiety Disorders Association of America. Find tests for parents to assess children, and for people to get an idea of whether they may have other anxiety disorders.
- Many Web sites devoted to stress agree that it’s not possible to entirely eliminate stress, given the demands of modern life. But these sites have tips to reduce stress or minimize its impact.
For stress management and relief …
The Mayo Clinic
has a page that explains some of the different reactions to stress that are unhealthy, such as turning to cigarettes and alcohol, and suggests you track your stress reactions for a week. A six-question test can help you assess your stress level
and learn tips to address what stress you might have.
The Cleveland Clinic
outlines some stress management ideas, such as changing your outlook, exercising, sleeping and delegating responsibilities. This article also emphasizes the importance of a supportive network: “Social support is the single most important buffer against stress,” the article says, and warns that not all relationships are positive.
has stress management advice from Dr. Oz, a physician who regularly appears on her show. Oz says keeping yourself healthy through good diet, sufficient sleep and regular exercise “can increase the capacity for how much stress we experience before it becomes a problem.”
For stress management in children …
has an article for teens called “What Stresses You Out About School?” Schoolwork, social issues and appearance issues top the list for the site’s readers. Read advice from other teens on managing schoolwork and dealing with social pressures.
For blogs and forums about stress and stress management …
has a Stress and Women online forum that allows people to talk about their stress. Recent topic threads include “Stressed to the max” and “What do you do to cope with stress?”
has a message board dedicated to stress and anxiety. The site is designed as a place for people to find support and share their experiences, but not as a place to receive medical advice. Speak with a doctor if you’re concerned about the severity of your stress.
The Centre for Emotional Well Being
is a blog written by an accountant-turned-trained psychologist and a therapist. Scroll down the left side of the page to find posts stress management-related posts.
Since the body’s reactions to danger were first identified in the early 20th century, scientists have learned a great deal about stress, and its short- and long-term effects on our physical and mental health. Despite the developments that have been made, scientists continue to pursue a deeper understanding of stress. New findings are frequently published in journals, magazines, and newspapers; use the resources in this section to find them.
- Searching online for journal articles involving stress is a challenge as many results are actually about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a psychological problem even more severe than chronic stress.
- Some sites, like Topix, search thousands of online news sites for articles on a particular subject. These sites can also help you keep track of news on stress.
The American Psychological Association
stress page contains news and press releases on the topic, along with books, videos, and journal articles. The journal articles are in PDF format, and don’t require registration or subscription to view.
is a magazine with many articles about stress and how stress relates to other topics, such as workplace health, the immune system, and anxiety. Access is free and doesn’t require registration or subscription.
catalogs news, research and information about hundreds of topics. This page is a collection of news articles about stress.
presents stress-related articles pulled from “thousands of sources around the net,” according to the site, along with a forum in which you can discuss stress or start a poll.
Most Recent Guides