Thursday, July 24, 2008

What is stress?

We all face different challenges and obstacles, and sometimes the pressure is hard to handle. When we feel overwhelmed, under the gun, or unsure how to meet the demands placed on us, we experience stress. In small doses, stress can be a good thing. It can give you the push you need, motivating you to do your best and to stay focused and alert. Stress is what keeps you on your toes during a presentation at work or drives you to study for your midterm when you'd rather be watching TV. But when the going gets too tough and life's demands exceed your ability to cope, stress becomes a threat to both your physical and emotional well-being.

To get a handle on stress, you first need to learn how to recognize it in yourself. Stress affects the mind, body, and behavior in many ways— all directly tied to the physiological changes of the fight-or-flight response. The specific signs and symptoms of stress vary widely from person to person. Some people primarily experience physical symptoms, such as low back pain, stomach problems, and skin outbreaks. In others, the stress pattern centers around emotional symptoms, such as crying jags or hypersensitivity. For still others, changes in the way they think or behave predominates.

Signs and symptoms of stress

The following table lists some of the common warning signs and symptoms of stress. Use it to identify the symptoms you typically experience when you’re under stress. If you know your red flags, you can take early steps to deal with the stressful situation before it—or your emotions—spiral out of control.

Stress Warning Signs and Symptoms
Cognitive Symptoms Emotional Symptoms
  • Memory problems
  • Indecisiveness
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Trouble thinking clearly
  • Poor judgment
  • Seeing only the negative
  • Anxious or racing thoughts
  • Constant worrying
  • Loss of objectivity
  • Fearful anticipation
  • Moodiness
  • Agitation
  • Restlessness
  • Short temper
  • Irritability, impatience
  • Inability to relax
  • Feeling tense and “on edge”
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Sense of loneliness and isolation
  • Depression or general unhappiness
Physical Symptoms Behavioral Symptoms
  • Headaches or backaches
  • Muscle tension and stiffness
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Nausea, dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Chest pain, rapid heartbeat
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Skin breakouts (hives, eczema)
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Frequent colds
  • Eating more or less
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Isolating yourself from others
  • Procrastination, neglecting responsibilities
  • Using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax
  • Nervous habits (e.g. nail biting, pacing)
  • Teeth grinding or jaw clenching
  • Overdoing activities (e.g. exercising, shopping)
  • Overreacting to unexpected problems
  • Picking fights with others
Top Ten Stressful Life Events
  1. Spouse’s death
  2. Divorce
  3. Marriage separation
  4. Jail term
  5. Death of a close relative
  6. Injury or illness
  7. Marriage
  8. Fired from job
  9. Marriage reconciliation
  10. Retirement

Take a closer look at the top ten stressful life event that destructively
break down a normal person. Retrenchment is ranked eighth in the top ten chart. Top three stress factor revolves around family and marriage. Retrenchment usually causes ripples effect on the family problems. Financial security is usually the root of all problem- the ability to sustain the lifestyle or simply put the duty to put bread on the table. In life there is "up" and
there is also "down". After the age of 35, usually an average person will see more "down" than up. The situation of "down" happen so frequently that there is actually a term called -Mid-Life Crisis. There is a common question the blue collar always ask, "when can can fit in your boss shoes?" Is there really a chance that an average person will be able to replace their boss? Since not many can take over their superior and boss, then why are we working so hard? Overtime after overtime. Day after day. Do we really need to sacrfice family time for that extra bucks from overtime ?

Greysteppenwolf Singapore Mental Health, Kelvin Ng
* In 1990 there were 88,000 such cases. This figure escalated to 147,000 in 1998.
* In 1990 only 8.4 percent of Singaporeans suffered from neurotic disorders such as anxiety and depression. In 1998 16.6 percent succumbed to these disorders. (This problem continues into the present with a newspaper report highlighting that more people are being diagnosed with mental disorders due to financial woes.)
* In 1997, psychiatrists noted a sharp increase in the number of teenagers attempting suicide and attributed the phenomenon to the youths being alienated from their parents. The main reason cited is the stressful lifestyle and high cost of living.
* In 1999, a consumer health survey found that among the various Asian societies, Singaporeans are most likely to have suffered depression, stress, and fatigue. In addition, job-related stresses continue to be the biggest problems for working Singaporeans.
* In 2003, a study found that Singaporeans aged between 20 and 49 years made up 70 percent of suicide cases from 1997 to 2001. They also constitute the main bulk of cases of attempted suicides.
* Between 1994 and 1998 the number of divorces shot up from 3,772 to 5,651 cases. Social workers attribute this occurrence to intense stress experienced by workers who have households, children and aging parents to take care.
* National figures compiled by the Registry of Births and Deaths show that on average, 1 person takes his/her own life in Singapore every day.

A Beautiful Mind (Click Here)
At 30 years of age, John Nash had schizophrenia - a condition from which most afflicted people never recover. (Based on a True Story)

Have a comment or thought, do give us a feedback at

  • Family Service Centre 1800 838 0100
  • Institute of Mental Health 6389 2222
  • Mount Elizabeth - Charter Helpline 1-800-7389595
  • SAMH Counselling Services 1800-2837019
  • Singapore Association for Mental Health 1-800-2837019
  • SOS - Samaritans of Singapore 1800-221 4444 (24 hours)

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