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Stress causes and treatments

Stress can be an extremely debilitating condition; among the 12 million people who visit their GP each year with a mental health issue, the majority of these are for stress-related problems. Medical professionals struggle to agree about what exactly stress is, and thus it can be very difficult to diagnose reliably.

Stress can occur in all aspects of an individual’s life so it is important that any definition clearly highlights this. Several definitions of stress are offered, and these include:

  • “a state of mental tension and worry caused by problems in an individual’s life or work.”
  • “something that causes strong feelings of worry or anxiety.”

A more technical definition of stress states that it can be described as:

  • “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.”

The final definition below seems to bring all of the others together:

  • “the feelings that occur when the potential demands of a situation do not match with an individual’s ability to cope with that situation.”

All of the definitions provided are correct; however, the final definition cited here, is the one that will be used when stress is referred to throughout this course.

The Causes of Stress

Stress can affect an individual in two ways and is dependent upon how long the circumstances that are causing the stress continue. The two types of stress are:

  • Acute – which is a one-off stressful event
  • Chronic – one or more stressful events that are ongoing

Someone who suffers from chronic stress caused by one situation may then also suffer a series of acute events that add to their problems. This can have a debilitating effect on their ability to live ‘normally’, and in some cases stress can actually prove to be fatal, because it has been linked to coronary heart disease and strokes.

Acute Stress

Acute stressors may include:

  • Bereavement
  • Divorce
  • Moving house
  • Witnessing a traumatic event
  • Diagnosis of a serious illness, but one which can be cured quickly
  • Taking an exam
  • An approaching deadline or appointment
  • A car accident with no long-term consequences

Acute stressors are not normally linked with poor health because they represent a one-off stressful event, which once it has been dealt with, means that an individual can get back to normal and live in the same way that they did before the stressful event occurred.

The list above cites some situations which have the possibility of becoming chronic. For example, someone who has been bereaved or divorced might be able to continue their life as it was before the event in a short space of time with no particular effect on their mental well-being. However, for other people, the grief of bereavement and the stress and possible trauma of a divorce can continue indefinitely. An example of this is that two people may be caught up in a building fire; one person is able to continue their life as normal but the other is then diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder because the stress from the event has stayed with them. It is when this happens that stress becomes more serious and can have an effect on physical as well as mental health.

Alternatively, acute stress is a natural response that lasts only a short space of time. Examples of acute stressors are those which provoke the ‘fight or flight’ reaction in someone. For example, think about if you were driving along the road and a child suddenly ran out in front of you. You slammed your brakes on and the child continued on their way unharmed. The physical changes in the body are due to acute stress because of the incident that has just occurred, and these will include:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Dilated pupils
  • Sweating
  • Constriction of the digestive system
  • Shaking

All of these physical symptoms occur because the body has readied itself for fight or flight – something which is an evolutionarily inherited response that would have been utilised by our ancestors who might come into contact with wild and dangerous animals (and other humans) on a daily basis. The physical changes prepare the body to either fight what they have come across or run away from it.

Millions of years ago, this was actually quite a useful response, but today, when humans are extremely unlikely to face such a threat even once in their lifetime, the reaction can be problematic. Those people who are affected by stress and anxiety often report feelings of uneasiness, tension and dread as though something terrible is about to happen, and their body prepares them for this even though there is no actual threat. Because they do not fight or run from anything (as there is nothing to fight or run from), they are left with the physical sensation and no means of getting rid of it. This is when stress becomes anxiety and a cycle can begin that is very difficult to break.

Chronic Stress

Chronic stressors might include:

  • Overworked (burnout)
  • Abuse
  • Social isolation
  • Financial problems
  • Weight problems
  • Insomnia or other sleep problems
  • Dysfunctional family environment
  • Having to contend with bad traffic every day on a journey
  • An ongoing illness or disability (your own or someone else’s)
  • Continual demands by children or ageing parents
  • Problems within a marriage
  • A phobia

These types of stress are persistent and ongoing and much more likely to affect someone’s ability to go about their daily activities. However, since these types of stress are more likely to be ‘built in’ to someone’s daily life, they can be very difficult to diagnose. Often people are sceptical that they are suffering from stress because they genuinely do not believe that they have anything to be stressed about. Even something as difficult as abuse can be normalised by someone if it happens to them on a regular basis, and it is something that they unfortunately come to expect and accept.

Employee feeling burnt out

How Stress Can Affect People

When the word ‘stress’ is mentioned, most people will almost certainly associate it with negativity. However, this is not always the case, and medical professionals can differentiate between ‘good stress’ and ‘bad stress’.

Good Stress

Stress, when considered from a purely physical viewpoint, is a burst of energy caused by the release of the hormone adrenaline from the adrenal glands and into the blood stream. It is these bursts of adrenaline that can make an individual feel motivated and focused; it is even thought to be able to increase the capabilities of someone’s memory.

These good stress effects might be useful, for example, when an individual is taking an exam. If they can control the amount of stress that they are feeling and ensure that it doesn’t turn into negative stress, then it will help them to stay focused and think carefully about the task that lies ahead of them. Once in the exam, they will be able to concentrate on what the questions are asking, reducing the possibility of reading them incorrectly. The fact that good stress helps memory should be able to help them to recall all of the information that they have learnt in preparation. They will be motivated to see the experience as a positive one, helping them to contain their levels of stress to a manageable amount.

Stress also acts as the individual’s built-in, automatic warning signal, which produces the fight or flight response that was discussed in the previous section. When the body senses some kind of threat, as well as adrenaline, it produces other hormones such as cortisol and norepinephrine, which create all of the physiological changes that prepare someone for the threat that has been sensed. Since all senses are heightened because of this effect, the good stress also acts to keep an individual safe because it enables them to quickly move out of the way of something, such as if something were to drop from the ceiling or if they had to move away from an attack.

Finally, good stress has also been shown to have minor health benefits. For example, in moderate amounts, stress can make the heart stronger and also acts to strengthen the immune system, protecting individuals from infection.

Bad Stress

Stress is a complex issue because many of the things that it produces can also be its triggers as well – so the causes and effects of stress can be interchangeable dependent upon the individual. For example, someone may have insomnia and as a result begin worrying about their job, which causes them to be stressed; whilst someone else is stressed because of their job and this causes them to have insomnia.

It is perhaps not surprising then that the harmful effects of stress significantly outnumber the useful effects. This is why individuals should monitor their stress levels to ensure that they are keeping themselves protected from what is a whole host of effects that can negatively impact both their mental and physical health.

One of the most significant harmful effects of stress is the weakening effect that it has on the immune system. Cortisol is released when someone is undergoing stress, and when this hormone does not have time to get back to its original level because the stress is ongoing, it has been shown to impact the immune system, leaving individuals prone to infection and many other types of illness.

Increased cortisol levels have also been linked to coronary heart problems, which can result in fatal strokes or heart attacks. A study by VU University Medical Centre in the Netherlands in 2010 found that individuals with higher cortisol levels were five times more likely to die from a heart attack or stroke than individuals whose cortisol levels were normal.

Stress has also been directly linked with another condition that can be fatal – high blood pressure. This is caused when the heart beats faster and the blood vessels constrict; over time this abnormal level of functioning can have a devastating effect on the body. Researchers are not certain what the link is between high blood pressure and stress but individuals are advised to try and have their blood pressure checked regularly so that they are aware of whether or not they are developing high blood pressure (known as hypertension). The result of their blood pressure check will put them in one of four categories, as explained in the table below:

Category Top Number (Systolic) in mm Hg Bottom Number (Diastolic) in mm Hg
Normal blood pressure Below 120 and below 80
Prehypertension Between 120-139 or between 80-89
Stage 1 hypertension Between 140-159 or between 90-99
Stage 2 hypertension 160 or higher or 100 or higher

Someone who is undergoing extreme, chronic stress may find that they are in stage 2 hypertension, which not only puts them at risk of a heart attack or stroke but can also cause eye damage and kidney damage as well.

Digestion issues are also commonplace for those individuals who experience harmful stress levels. Digestion problems can not only cause daily issues such as diarrhoea and constipation but can cause inflammation of the gastrointestinal system, making someone more prone to infection. Additionally, those individuals who also have digestive related diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome or coeliac disease are likely to have their symptoms worsened by stress.

Skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis are also linked to stress, and whilst these might not necessarily have a harmful physical effect on someone, they can have far-reaching emotional effects because individuals become embarrassed at how they look and fear judgement from others.

As well as harmful physical effects, stress can also cause harmful mental health effects as well. For example, it is directly linked with anxiety and depression, and these are the most common mental health problems within the UK at the moment as they are said to affect up to one in five individuals during their lifetime. It is also linked with various panic disorders, which can have a devastating effect on an individual’s ability to live their life in a normal way.

Additionally, stress is also linked to fatigue, which is a harmful condition where an individual has no energy and is at risk of becoming socially isolated. As with many conditions, this is linked to depression; which again is linked to stress. This results in an individual once again finding themselves trapped in a cycle that becomes very difficult to break.

The Symptoms of Stress

The symptoms of stress are so widespread and varied that they can be divided into four categories. These four categories are highlighted in the table below:

Symptom Type Examples of Symptoms
Cognitive (something that affects an individual’s thinking, reasoning or perception)
  • Lack of concentration
  • Constant worry and/or anxiety
  • Poor judgement
  • Memory lapses
  • An inability to see anything positive in any situation
  • Aches and pains
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent colds and other minor infections
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Rapid heartbeat and chest pain
  • Mood swings
  • Increased irritability
  • Agitation
  • Constantly feeling overwhelmed
  • General unhappiness
  • Anxiety and worry
  • Over or under eating
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Neglecting responsibilities
  • Smoking more to relax
  • Drinking more alcohol to relax
  • Developing a nervous habit such as nail biting

It is highly unlikely that an individual would experience just one of these symptoms. In fact, one of the reasons why stress has such an impact on someone is because not only can many of these symptoms be felt simultaneously but they can also actually cause each other. For example, someone may feel anxious so they choose to drink more alcohol to help them relax. This can then lead to them feeling fatigued, causing them to withdraw, and eventually result in depression. Whilst this may seem like a far-fetched example, symptoms can ‘domino’ very quickly and many people report issues in more than one area of their life when they are experiencing stress.

Feeling isolated and lonely.

Feelings When Experiencing Stress

Stress can be an extremely difficult experience for any individual who goes through it, whether it is for a short or a protracted period of time. As well as the physical and mental symptoms that it produces, it can also have some profound emotional effects. These feelings may be difficult to deal with; whether it is the first time an individual has experienced them or one of many times.

Individuals report several prominent feelings when they are experiencing stress, and these include:

  • Fearfulness and anxiousness
  • Dread
  • Worthlessness
  • Being overwhelmed
  • Loneliness and isolation

Fear and anxiety are both common feelings amongst everyone who experiences stress, but they may be for different reasons. For someone who has never gone through a period of stress before, they may be frightened because they do not understand what is happening to them. Anxiety may be brought about because of whatever has prompted the stress, such as financial problems or a recent traumatic experience. When anxiety, stress and fear are combined, their effects on someone’s ability to go about their daily tasks make it very challenging.

Many people who are stressed may experience panic simultaneously. This is when someone’s fight or flight instinct is activated and they do not know why or what they can do to control and reduce it.

Panic attacks are commonplace when someone is experiencing stress. These can be very frightening episodes for someone because their symptoms mimic those of serious conditions like a heart attack and individuals often report feeling as though they are going to die, which makes the panic even worse. Symptoms of a panic attack also include:

  • Hyperventilation (shortness of breath that can result in fainting)
  • Chest pains
  • Heart palpitations
  • Trembling
  • Feeling unable to swallow or choking
  • Sweating
  • Being detached from reality
  • Dizziness
  • Numbness and tingling in any part of the body

Someone who has experienced stress in the past may be fearful because they know what it is like and are afraid of what is inevitably going to happen to them because of the stress. It might be that in the past they have had to take time off work, have seen a relationship suffer or that the stress has made them physically ill. It might even be that they fear the return of a condition that they experienced alongside the stress, such as panic or anxiety.

Many people who are stressed also report feelings of dread but they are not quite sure what is prompting those feelings. It might be because they are not quite sure how to deal with their stress and subconsciously feel as though something terrible is about to happen. Again, these are inextricably linked with anxiety and panic because if someone does know what they are dreading, this can lead to them feeling anxious about it, resulting in them starting to panic. For example, if someone is undergoing acute stress about giving a presentation at work, on the morning that it is supposed to take place, they may awake with feelings of dread about it because they feel as though they are going to fail. This will almost certainly cause anxiety, which will make the stress worse; ultimately, this might cause an episode of panic.

Stress can have a major negative impact on someone’s self-esteem. It may cause them to feel as though they have failed in one or more aspects of their life because they cannot cope with the demands that have been placed upon them. Due to this lowering of self-esteem, individuals often report feelings of worthlessness, which can make recovery from stress very difficult. When people feel as though they are worthless, it is harder for them to ask for help because they may feel as though they do not deserve to be helped or that they are too embarrassed because of the stressful situation in which they find themselves.

Another common feeling of someone who is experiencing stress is being overwhelmed. This might not just be overwhelmed because of what is causing the stress but by other things in their life as well that happen as a consequence of the original stressor. For example, someone may have recently experienced a divorce that has caused them considerable stress and anxiety. They may now feel overwhelmed by the responsibilities that they face, such as being a single parent or learning how to cope alone. Being overwhelmed can cause someone to ‘shut down’. They may feel as though they cannot cope with anything, even the smallest task, because they have temporarily lost the ability to make plans and organise things that might make the situation feel a little less overwhelming.

Finally, someone who is experiencing stress is likely to have at least one of the feelings discussed here, if not more. These can cause someone to feel completely alone, as though they are the only person in the world who has ever gone through something so stressful. It must be kept in mind that stress is very subjective – someone may be stressed because of something that someone else may be completely unbothered by and vice versa. People who are feeling stressed also tend to feel isolated. This is because they often cannot discuss the source of the problem with someone else, perhaps because they don’t want to feel like a burden or maybe they are too ashamed of the stressor to be able to discuss it with others. Isolation can often lead to mental health problems because individuals do not seek assistance for their problem and so it is left ignored and untreated.

isolation can occur as a result of stress

How Stress Can Affect People

The effects of stress can be far-reaching for an individual and for their family and friends as well. This is because stress can affect how someone behaves on a day-to-day basis and can interfere with normal relationships and routines. The most common ways in which stress affects an individual are:

  • Poor health, both mental and physical
  • Relationship issues
  • Work problems
  • Changes in behaviour
  • Parenting issues
  • Isolation

As we have seen in previous sections, changes to both mental and physical health are commonplace when someone is going through a period of stress. Mental health issues often arise because the individual does not know how to deal with the stress and this can sometimes lead to them simply ignoring the stress and hoping it will go away on its own. Sometimes this will happen, especially if the stress is acute; however, sometimes a person will need assistance in dealing with the mental and physical effects that stress is having on them.

Physical effects of stress include issues that are fairly minimal (such as persistent minor illnesses and aches and pains), all the way to life-threatening issues such as heart disease and strokes. Those individuals who have stress often note a feeling of just being constantly ‘under the weather’ with no real physical illness that they can identify.

Mental health issues and stress often go together because stress causes some of the issues that are related to other common mental health conditions. The most often cited mental health issues associated with stress are anxiety and depression. Individuals who have started with one of these issues, often eventually have all of them. This is usually because the three conditions end up working in a cycle – stress almost always causes anxiety and this usually leads to depression because individuals are susceptible to a change in their normal lifestyle. Individuals then feel more stress because they are depressed, and so this leads to a cycle that up to one in five individuals within the UK are likely to be diagnosed with at least once within their lifetimes.

Individuals who experience stress often report relationship issues, usually with their partner but this can also include parents, siblings and other people who have a significant role in their life. Sometimes, the relationship itself can be the cause of the stress and this can make things even more difficult to cope with. Someone’s relationship may be affected by stress because the individual can no longer commit time to spend with other people because they feel too drained or ill to be in any company. This can lead to partners feeling rejected and sometimes even helpless, which can result from not knowing how to deal with, or help with, what the individual is going through.

Those individuals who are stressed can also be very irritable and this can make them difficult to be around sometimes as their behaviour can be unpredictable. For people who know them well, this can come as a shock and many people who are in their life may not cope well with this change. Sometimes the change in an individual can be overwhelming and relationships are ended because it does not seem like there can be any way to keep going in the face of what can be a chronic and debilitating illness.

Changes to behaviour are noticeable in many ways when someone is going through a period of stress; for example, as well as being more irritable, they may become frustrated very easily, often cry for no reason and may become withdrawn as they don’t involve themselves socially as they used to. These are usually some of the first signs that someone is experiencing stress, and they can be very disconcerting for family members who feel as though the individual is not the person they used to be, even when this only happens for short, occasional periods of time.

Work problems are cited as one of the most common causes of stress but individuals can also suffer because of stress caused from elsewhere. A person who works full-time spends most of their waking hours at work during the week, and when they are experiencing stress this can be difficult, especially if they feel as though they have to ‘put on a brave face’ to hide their stress from others.

Stress can cause someone to struggle with concentration and focus, as well as having a negative effect on their memory, and this can cause problems for someone at work as their ability to carry out their role efficiently may decline. Additionally, it can cause issues between colleagues when the individual does not seem to be working as hard as everyone else or because they are not as socially involved as they used to be.

Stress can cause employees to become less punctual because they may not want to go into work or cannot find the motivation to do so. It also leads to absenteeism because many people will simply be unable to face working due to the stress they are feeling being too much for them to cope with.

Parenting issues can present themselves when someone is going through a stressful period in their lives because having to cope with the demands of children can often make the stress feel worse. Sometimes, children can be a cause of stress, especially if they have an illness or an ongoing condition; many women especially feel extremely stressed after the birth of a new baby and this can lead to further complications if it coincides with a period of postnatal depression.

Parents can overreact to situations because of the stress they are feeling. For example, they may find that they no longer have the patience to play with their children or feel like the slightest noise they make or the first time they do something wrong is the end of the world. Younger children may not understand what is happening and this can cause them to change their own behaviour in response, something else which can add to an individual’s stress levels as it can be seen as ‘another thing they have to cope with’.

Finally, isolation can occur as a result of stress because the individual does not feel as though they can manage to interact with others; socialising might lead to further stress because of the effort that it takes or due to the worry that someone feels that they might be judged because of their condition. Isolation can certainly make stress worse because individuals are not offered the opportunity to discuss their problems nor are they made to feel as though anyone cares about them.

Isolation can become difficult to manage because, again, this can lead to further mental health issues, especially depression, and this will usually only serve to make the stress worse.

How the Demands of Daily Life Can Contribute to Stress

An internal demand is something which comes from inside of the individual who is experiencing stress (such as their thoughts and beliefs about themselves), whereas an external demand is something which is due to an individual’s environment (such as their job or where they live).

Internal Demands

Internal demands are usually linked with self-belief and self-esteem. Someone who is happy with their life and is satisfied that they are currently working at their potential and accepting of the fact that they cannot be perfect is much less likely to experience stress than someone who is unhappy with who they are and believe that they are not fulfilling their personal potential.

Often, an individual’s unrealistic expectations of themselves can be a big factor of them becoming stressed. Perfectionism is something that is almost impossible to achieve and yet many individuals believe that if they don’t do something perfectly they have failed. They cannot see what they have done well and only focus on what they have not done. This can be extremely stressful when it happens in many areas of their life. An example of this is that they may feel as though they have failed as a parent because their child does not get all ‘A’ grades in school. They may believe they are a failure because they don’t have the newest car or don’t have what they perceive to be the perfect job. When all of these factors come together, they will have a hugely negative impact on someone’s self-esteem and this can lead to stress very quickly.

Negative self-talk involves someone believing that they are unable to cope with life’s demands and that they are insignificant or unimportant in the lives of others. Someone is likely to experience stress if they continually tell themselves that they are stupid or worthless, or that no one cares about them. When faced with an unfamiliar situation, someone’s negative self-talk will lead them to believe they cannot cope with it so shouldn’t even try. This can place restrictions on their ability to live a happy and meaningful life and will likely cause them stress, possibly because they want to change how they perceive themselves but cannot.

Pessimism is also an important factor in determining whether someone is susceptible to stress. People who always see the worst in a situation are far more likely to experience stress than someone who accepts what they cannot change and tries to find something positive in every situation. People who are pessimistic also tend to be rigid thinkers, which means that they will not change what they believe is going to happen, regardless of what evidence is presented to them. For example, if a person who was a pessimistic, rigid thinker were to go on holiday and when they landed at the airport it was pouring with rain, they would automatically think the worst – that it was going to rain all week, their holiday would be ruined and it would be a complete waste of money. This can cause instant stress.

On the other hand, someone who is able to think more optimistically might immediately look at the sky for signs of the rain stopping, and if they could not see any would think of what they could do in bad weather to pass the time until it stopped, never thinking for a minute that it would be ongoing and ruin the holiday.

Incidents like this can lead to chronic worry, which is a major cause of stress. Someone who is a chronic worrier will find something to worry about in any situation – often actively seeking something to worry about so that they can ‘prepare themselves for the worst’, which is what they assume will happen. Chronic worry can have a significant impact on someone’s ability to live their life happily and it will almost certainly cause them periods of stress.

External Demands

Major life changes can be a source of stress if the individual to whom they happen does not feel as though they can cope with the change that has been made. Examples of major life changes can be bereavement, divorce or even moving house, all of which place demands on an individual to adapt to a new routine which might be very different to what they are used to. A major life change can be a positive thing if it is expected or planned and if the individual is ready for its consequences. However, something like a bereavement, which may happen suddenly, can cause extreme stress for someone whose life may be completely and permanently changed. Situations like these can cause stress which is likely to become chronic and lead to other mental health conditions.

Work or school can also be very externally demanding on someone if they perceive that they cannot cope with its demands. This may be due to an arduous workload or because of things that they cannot control, such as having an unsympathetic manager or being in a poorly run department. Since work and school take up much of someone’s life, it can feel as though the stress felt there is never ending because there is no escape from having to go there and face further stressful situations.

Financial difficulties are a major cause of stress because many families struggle to keep up with the demands of paying a mortgage or rent, as well as their household bills and all other associated costs (such as for childcare and food). Many families will feel pressured into buying things for their children so that they can match their friends in keeping up with a latest trend, even if they cannot really afford to do this. It is estimated that over eight million people in the UK struggle to keep on top of their bills, which means that this many people are exposing themselves to the possibility of stress.

Children and family can be very demanding and this can become stressful if parents feel as though they cannot cope with their family circumstances. For example, parents may be having problems within their relationship, children may be going through difficult phases of development and, for some people, caring for an elderly relative may become a big part of their life. Someone may even face more than one of these issues, which will significantly increase their chances of going through a period of stress.

many individuals find the demands of children to be completely overwhelming.

How Stress Can Be Managed

  • Knowing what the signs and triggers of stress are: When an individual learns how to spot when they are becoming stressed then they can take action to do something before the problem spirals. This is especially useful for individuals who tend to be stressed about one specific aspect of their life.
  • Diet: Eating the right foods can make someone feel better in general and this can increase their overall sense of well-being. When someone feels as though they are healthy this means that they are far more likely to be able to cope with stressful situations, as they will feel more agile and alert. A good diet consists of a good mix of protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals. Individuals who are susceptible to stress would be advised to learn as much as they can about a healthy diet.
  • Exercise: When someone does physical activity, their brain automatically releases ‘feel good’ hormones such as serotonin and this provides an immediate boost to how they feel. Someone who feels happier is more likely to see events in their life in a more positive light and therefore don’t become stressed about them. It is advised that to stay healthy, someone should do 30-45 minutes of exercise per day, which can be just going for a brisk walk or anything which makes the heart work harder than it normally would.
  • Mindfulness, including breathing exercises: Being mindful means that someone is able to ‘switch off’ and enable their mind to clear and be at peace. This is not easy for people who are disposed to stress because their minds are often full of worries about their life. However, breathing techniques can be learnt that will increase their level of relaxation and also possibly allow them to leave their worries to one side, even if this is only for a brief period of time each day.
  • Improve the quality of relationships: Relationships are a vital aspect of everyone’s life – as humans we are programmed to seek company from others; however, relationships can be a major source of stress, with some of them feeling toxic due to the effect that that they have on individuals. Relationships that are causing stress can be worked on – the source of the problem can be identified and then people within the relationship can work on resolving it to reduce the stressful effects that it is causing. However, sometimes it may be necessary to end a relationship altogether, and however painful or impossible this may seem at the time, this can sometimes be very beneficial in reducing someone’s overall levels of stress. Ending a toxic relationship can also induce feelings of liberation and so it can be very beneficial.
  • Hobbies: A hobby can act as a distraction from a stressful life or a stressful event and it can also bring enjoyment and fulfilment to someone’s life. A hobby also enables someone to have feelings of satisfaction that they are doing something which may make a difference to their own or someone else’s life. Hobbies help people to feel happy and this can be very influential on someone’s overall well-being.
  • Volunteering: Sometimes people feel stressed because their confidence and self-esteem is low. By volunteering they are helping others and this can bring great feelings of satisfaction, increasing self-worth and feeling as though they are making a difference to someone else’s life. Like a hobby, it is also a good distraction from whatever is causing the stress and gives the individual the opportunity for valuable time spent with others, reducing the likelihood of isolation.
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