Statistics Canada surveyed Canadians over the age of 14 in both 2012 and 2013, and found that 23%, or 6.6 million, people perceived most of their days as ‘quite a bit’ or ‘extremely stressful’ (Perceived Life Stress, 2013. Para. 2). 6.6 million Canadians are experiencing high levels of daily stress, and this correlates with a less satisfying life. Stress can result in a variety of negative health issues, negative behaviour, and even burn out (Perceived Life Stress, 2013. Para. 1). Understanding stress and burn outs, their causes, and being able to recognize symptoms, in both yourself and others, is extremely important in order to maintain a healthy self and healthy family/friends. Managing, and reducing stress is not an easy task, but the more informed you are about stress and burnout the easier it becomes.
What is Stress and What are the Causes?
Stress is defined as both “a physical, mental, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension,” (Stress. Para 1) and as “the physiological and psychological response to a threat/challenge that requires some form of adaptation.” Stress can be caused by a variety of factors in our lives, and effects everyone differently. Work and school requires us to be efficient, time conscious, and hardworking constantly, while also balancing our social lives, relationships, and economic responsibilities. Without balance we become easily overwhelmed, and stressed out. For example, in a week one may have to work four five hour shifts, have three assignments to complete for their school classes, two social obligations, relationships to maintain, pets to take care of, and bills to pay. Proper planning, and organization make this week stress free for some, but for others it can be full of stress. Change, and uncertainty can also be stress inducing for people who do not enjoy embracing the unknown or the brand new. A sudden change in a due date for an assignment, or a new work obligation could quickly induce stress for those who do not adapt well.
Recognizing Stress in Yourself and Others
There are a lot of different symptoms that come along with stress. Sometimes they are obvious and noticeable and other times you might not notice at all. One of the best tricks to dealing with stress properly is being able to recognize stress. If you can recognize stress in yourself, then you can deal with it before it gets to an antagonizing or unhealthy point. Some of the physical symptoms can include;
- Aches and pains
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Chest pain
- Rapid heartbeat
- Cognitive Symptoms can include;
- Memory issues
- Concentration issues
- Poor judgement
- Overwhelming or racing thoughts
- Consistent worry
- Change in behaviour could occur and these symptoms would be;
- Change in appetite
- Change in sleep habits
- Change in social life
- Not keeping up with responsibilities
- Develop nervous habits (Nail biting, restless sitting, pacing etc.)
- Recreational drug use (Maybe even miss use of prescription drugs.) for relaxation
- Alcohol use for relaxation
- Some emotional changes may take place and these include;
- Mood swings
- Short tempered
- Inability to relax
- Feeling lonely
- Feeling isolated
- Feeling unhappy
- Feeling Depressed
- (Stress Symptoms, Signs, and Causes para. 11)
These symptoms can be caused by other things as well. You have to be able to determine what you have going on in your life that could be causing them, which will help you determine whether or not they are from stress. This list is also useful when it comes to other people. If you notice an interesting change in a close friend or a family member and it concerns you, you could so some research and look into it. Maybe sit down with them and talk with them to try and see if they want to get help or if they have noticed the change within themselves. A lot of times people don’t completely notice any sort of change. Other times they notice and don’t know how to help themselves. Stress can become a very serious issue in a person, and it’s always best to deal with it as soon as possible. Not taking action could lead you to a burnout.
Stress reduction and management
The way we deal with stress is important. Having stress in your life is a healthy and natural thing, but when does the amount of stress begin to take a toll on our bodies? It is important to know how to manage stress in your life, and how to reduce it if it’s becoming a problem.
For students such as myself, I know I am mostly stressed out about deadlines, cramming for midterms and student debts. Stressing out about things when midterms are coming up has to be the most stressful thing… Stressing about stress. Great.
I knew in order to be successful at my midterms I had to relax and focus. After watching YouTube videos on stress management and reading articles online I think I got the insiders secrets on stress.
The first thing you should do when you find you are stressed out is to take a couple deep breathes and think about how you’re going to manage it. Learning how to manage your stress will help lower the harmful effects, and will prevent you from becoming too stressed in the future. “Stress management involves changing the stressful situation when you can, changing your reaction when you can’t, taking care of yourself, and making time for rest and relaxation.” Stress Management. (n.d.). Retrieved October 23, 2015.
You should become aware of why you were stressed in the first place, and think of ways to overcome it. Most people will use exercise to reduce stress. Exercising will give your body more energy and will change your mood to become more positive. This includes yoga as well. Another way to reduce stress is to get out of the house and socialize. Studies show this is the fastest way to get over your stress (although if your stress is caused because your assignment is due in an hour and you haven’t started it, this might not be the best idea). Socializing and talking about your feelings, and ranting about your stress are a good idea also. It is advised to start a diary, or journal to write down thoughts when stressed.
Stress Management. (n.d.). Retrieved October 23, 2015.
Ways to unwind:
Helping with stress:
Signs of a Burnout:
Some warning signs that address your having a burnout are categorized into three categories. The first category would be physical, you would be feeling tired and exhausted all the time. You can also have times when you feel sick, have migraine, headaches. As well as have a change in your eating and sleeping habits. The second category of signs that alert you that you are having a burn out come under emotional. You feel that you are not good enough, think you’re a failure no matter what you do. Lose motivation, feel lonely constantly. You will think that no one is with you, losing self-satisfaction. And finally the last category that informs that you’re having a burnout comes under behavior. This is when an individual, starts slacking, procrastinating, taking out their anger on others. In this stage you, start finding things to cope either turning to food, drugs or anything else. ( Smith, 04) An example for this would be of an individual starting work late, skipping days and/or leaving work much early than expected. These are the three categories of signs that alert you if you’re having a burn out.
What happens when you burnout and what are the causes:
A burnout is when you are exhausted mentally, physically and emotionally. A burnout can also occur because of high levels of stress. This makes you feel as if making an effort doesn’t matter anymore, making you have no determination. Some causes of a burnout are when you feel you don’t belong anywhere, think that you are not good enough, not have anything in control, have others expecting too much from you and/or have too many expectations from yourself. (Douglas mental health, 1-4)
The Difference between Stress & Burnout
You have stress, and then you have burn outs. Stress is an issue, but burn out is a larger issue. The difference between the two is a burn out is what comes after all the stress. Most built up stress is what causes a burn out. At the same time, stress causing a burnout leads to more stress which can worsen the burnout and cause you to see and feel more of the symptoms. It can basically become an infinite cycle. (Difference between stress and burnout para. 5) It’s hard to deal with unless you know how to deal with it. Everyone should be aware of signs and symptoms of both and deal with it immediately after recognition. A great thing to go by and follow in my opinion are the three R’s
- “Recognize – Watch for the warning signs of burnout
- Reverse – Undo the damage by managing stress and seeking support
- Resilience – Build your resilience to stress by taking care of your physical and emotional health”
- (Preventing Burnout para. 7)
Being a student at mohawk college this year, I have dealt with little to no stress. Yet as the midterms are approaching i’m dealing with a lot of stress, hoping to do really good on all my midterm exams. Pushing myself all the time to do my best. This is causing me to stress out a lot and when i reach my maximum level of stress i usually tend to burst, having breakdowns here and there. Some techniques that i use to help myself from dealing with stress are, taking short breaks every now and then. Talking to people, having friends over when i work so that I don’t push myself over the limit, overworking myself. And lastly, work in a public place where there are people around. This helps me alot because having people around me distracts me but keeps me busy doing my own thing, making me not stress, well maybe just a little bit.These are some ways that help me deal with stress.
As a teenager who has been through high school and now just beginning college I had a lot of stress that I have/ tried to cope with. Before when I was not able to recognize stress, and wasn’t sure how to handle myself when I got stressed I would 9/10 give up on the task at hand. I could blame it on my lack of motivation, but turns out that is also an outcome of stress overload.
As midterms are approaching I am faced with balancing studying, work, and still attending my classes. This is a very stressful time for most college students. I have learned how to deal with stress in the past, and have learned many helpful tips completing this assignment.
Things that I do to cope with stress are;
- Take deep breathes, lay down and close my eyes
- Talk about my problems with my friends
- Listen to music to clear my mind before returning to the task at hand.
Stress is something that I, as a type A personality, have struggled with for most of my life, and I still do. Managing your stress, and recognizing signs of stress is difficult, but not impossible. When I’m stressed I become very easily agitated, forgetful, and all I want to do is be lazy and eat. I find some of the best ways for me to relax are to read, meditate, have a hot bath, exercise, or distract myself with crosswords or sudoku. If you’ve ever seen ‘Legally Blonde’ then you know that “exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.” Not only does exercise help me to release stress, but it puts me in a better mood too. Lately, I’ve been letting stress from school get the best of me, but being unproductive has only made me more stressed. I recognize that I’m stressed, and that I’ve been dealing with it wrong, and I’m making an effort to be more organized and conscious of my symptoms. Organization is key for me to manage my stress. Scheduling my responsibilities, assignments, and even my down time is what works best for me.
Having moved out when I have just turned 19 and working full time, doing everything on my own always, I learned what stress was like very early on. There are positive sides and negative sides to this. At that age it isn’t always the best to have to grow up so quickly. At that age most of us want to relax and have fun. I never really had that opportunity. I missed out on a lot of the things that my friends got to do, places they got the luxury of going to because working part time and living with your parents gives you leeway with your money. You’re able to takes trips and such. I didn’t have much time for going out and having fun. Most weeks I would work 7 days a week. I missed out on a lot of fun. Those are some negative sides to it. Some positive sides are, I am now able to deal with stress fairly well. I’ve grown up a lot and I am a lot more mature and responsible than most my age. I think the one thing I find most appealing about being where I am, the most positive thing I’ve gained from it, is how proud my mother is of my. She could go on and on for days about how far I have come and how proud she is. How happy she is that I am trying to make something of myself. Hearing stuff like this can melt a girls heart.
Where to get help and support
If you are seeking help with your stress and need extra support you should see a guidance counsellor available at your school, or see a therapist.
If you are aged 20 and younger and need to talk to someone right away about your problems you can call kids help phone at (1-800-668-6868) and talk to someone who can help.
If you are over 20 and need to speak to someone you can call this distress Centre: 416-408-HELP (4357)
If you want to access a stress and anxiety therapist in the Hamilton area the link below has many people available for this:
Perceived life stress, 2013. (n.d.). Retrieved October 22, 2015, from http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-625-x/2014001/article/14023-eng.htm
Pierce, S. (2013, October 17). Balancing Your Hectic Life. Retrieved October 22, 2015, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stacia-pierce/balancing-your-hectic-life_b_4115635.htmlhttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/stacia-pierce/balancing-your-hectic-life_b_4115635.html
Stress. (2012, September 20). Retrieved October 21, 2015, from http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=20104
Stress Symptoms, Signs, and Causes Authors: Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., Melinda Smith, M.A., Robert Segal, M.A., and Lawrence Robinson. Last updated: September 2015.
Preventing Burnout Authors: Melinda Smith, M.A., Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., and Robert Segal, M.A. Last updated: August 2015.
Smith, M. (n.d.). Preventing Burnout. Retrieved October 23, 2015, from http://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/preventing-burnout.htm
Burn-out: Causes – Mental Health A-Z – Douglas Mental Health University Institute. (2013, October 9). Retrieved October 23, 2015, from http://www.douglas.qc.ca/info/burnout-causes