In the twentieth century, several theories appeared that can rightly be called popular science. Not in the sense that they are primitive, understood by everyone, liked by everyone, and discussed competently by everyone. Alas, the opposite is true: only a few narrow specialists working in the relevant fields really understand the essence of problems, the formulation of questions and the proposed ways to solve them, and only a handful of people on the globe are able to” stand on the shoulders of titans ” and develop revolutionary ideas and theories in order to move on. The rest of humanity does just fine without an understanding, even an approximate one. This is not a reproach at all; it has always been so, and probably will continue to be so in the next foreseeable centuries. What is more interesting is that some terms and expressions borrowed from various sciences for some reason seem intuitive and universally explanatory, as a result of which they become so well-known, popular, and commonly used all over the world that they begin to live their own lives at the level of everyday language and collective consciousness. At the same time, the scope and content of terms, as a rule, expand indefinitely, far beyond the original clear framework and extending to any everyday situations. “Action is equal to counteraction”, “everything in the world is relative”, “conditioned reflex and Pavlov’s dog”, “Schrodinger’s cat” (thanks to its difficult fate, this animal became the hero of jokes and memes on the Internet), “black hole”, or, say, “subconscious” (and you, by the way, knew that no truly competent psychologist with a university education uses the vulgar term “subconscious”, preferring to study the “unconscious”?). The names of Wilhelm Roentgen, Albert Einstein, Ivan Pavlov, and Erwin Schrodinger-all Nobel Laureates-are constantly on the radar, and they are generally known to everyone. The point, however, is not in the awards. For various reasons, Isaac Newton, Sigmund Freud, Stephen Hawking and many, many others whose influence on the culture of the Earth is huge and undeniable did not become Laurets. Among them is Hans Selye, whose research is responsible for the worldwide popularity of another meta-concept-which, in terms of frequency of use, probably occupies one of the leading, if not the first position among similar” understandable to all ” words. This refers to the concept of “stress”.
As if Providence itself had prepared for Hans Selye universality and cross-culturality: by birth, Janos Scheye, he was the son of a Hungarian and an Austrian woman, was born in Austria-Hungary (1907), studied in Czechoslovakia, Italy, the United States, and then lived and worked in Canada until his death (1982). He did not receive the Nobel Prize, although he was once nominated: apparently, bad proceedings regarding the sources of funding for the main area of his research affected him. But all this doesn’t matter: the main thing is that the whole world is complaining about “stress” today, although Selye himself, God knows, is not at all responsible for our stress. In general, he meant something slightly different from what most of us mean by this word. In fact, the term was coined not by Selye, but by the American classical psychologist Walter Cannon, just as the notorious “subconscious” was proposed not by Freud, but by Pierre Janet.
The original meaning of the English word “stress”, whether it be a noun or a verb, semantically related to the pressure, load, date imprint, a concussion blow (if you remember, on the first PC running MS-DOS often offer “Strike…”or “Press…”, or “Hit…”, or “Stress any keyIn the late, final version of Selye’s concept, stress is understood as any external influence that threatens to bring the body out of equilibrium homeostasis (constancy of internal conditions). In another sense, stress is “a set of non-specific adaptive responses.” Non-specific, i.e. the effects can be different (infection, injury, unpleasant situation, etc.), and in response to them the same, for example, the temperature rises, the heartbeat and breathing increase. It is important that Selye was not a psychiatrist or psychologist, his medical specialty was endocrinology, and thus stress is not a kitchen-household concept, but a neuroendocrine and psychophysiological one. In the early stages of his research, Hans Selye did not use this term at all, but dealt with the so-called general adaptation syndrome, developing and arguing this concept in detail. In particular, Selye’s ideas about three phases or stages of the adaptive response are widely known: mobilization-resistance-exhaustion. According to Selye, stress for the body is not just normal, it is the most important evolutionary mechanism of “fine-tuning to a specific situation”, allowing us to survive without special consequences where a less flexible, nimble, quirky, fast-reacting biological machine would simply die. And it was not immediately that Selye began to differentiate between physiological and normal stress, which leads to the accumulation of useful experience and additional “training” of the body, from pathological stress, which leaves certain negative consequences, dysfunctions, maladaptive disorders (“adaptation diseases”, as the author called them). Selye called “good “stress eustress,” bad ” – distress. The concept of distress is closely related to another major medical theory of the twentieth century – the concept of psychosomatic diseases (see, for example,”Bronchial asthma”, “Gastroduodenitis. Peptic ulcer of the stomach and duodenum”, “Neurosis”). What we will discuss next is, of course, not stress in general, but distress, and almost exclusively information-type distress.
And what do we mean by stress – we who are “well-almost-doctors”, “who have read a lot about medicine” or “also some kind of specialists” – when we put this red word where it is necessary and where it is not necessary? Anything at all. I think that any physician who consults patients, now smiling and with great skill nod his head: if a person complains of experienced stress (especially in the phrase “I was nervous stress, doctor… you know…”), this phrase may be hiding psychosisand neurosis, and depression, and fender Bender, and a panic attack, and acute stress reaction and the surgery we had, and the family scandal, and the lack of money, and the claims to the government, and the mediocre semi-final we lost… in short, anything. Anything that we don’t like or are nervous about, distracts, disturbs, excites, angers, scares, or suddenly pleases. Anything that we think is stressful. Anything that is even remotely similar to this word or consonant with it. Soon it will be possible to consider it native Russian.
This is a property of universal meta-concepts.
The material published below is translated. For the editors of the Lakhta Clinic website, it is always interesting and useful to refer to the experience of foreign colleagues-and how they, they say, cope with one of the main common problems, how they explain very, very difficult things to their readers in simple words (ranging from housewives and schoolchildren to academics inclusive). It is obvious that any medical and informational resource should master this art perfectly. Healthy lifestyle portal with the simple name Health is extremely popular, with a huge English-speaking audience. Let’s see what exactly this audience reads about stress and its main causes. Both in the modern world are hardly very different in different countries and on different continents. A word from Amanda McMillan and Corinne Miller.
And the last thing, so as not to be distracted later: the vocabulary and style are preserved as much as possible by the author, and the notes and clarifications where they were needed are ours.
What is stress, exactly?
As long as you remain a living and breathing human being, you will face stress at certain points in your life. This is your body’s response to challenges or demands, as defined by MedlinePlus (National Library of Medicine website).
These are completely normal feelings, and they can sometimes be good for you (for example, they help you avoid dangerous situations). But if they are prolonged for a long time, it can put you at risk of quite serious health problems, such as depression or anxiety, or even become a source of, for example, chronic skin problems.
You may be fully aware of what exactly is a specific stress trigger for you – a job running against a deadline or a war with your spouse-but these factors can also enter your life in other, sometimes unexpected ways. Here we consider twenty-one factors among the most common causes that can cause an undesirable stressful state.
Even if you are simply blissful in living together and having a relationship with your partner or spouse, both of you are doomed to sometimes do something that gets on the other’s nerves. “Early in a relationship, you tend to have problems with space and habits, such as squeezing pasta out of the middle or out of the bottom of a tube,” says Ken Yeager, Ph. D., assistant professor of psychiatry at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “Later on, you may have conflicts about parenting or financial problems, and you will need to learn how to stand as a united front to solve these problems together.”
So what is the key to a long and happy life together? In finding a balance, K. Yeager answers: in spending the right periods of time together (not too short and not too long); in being able to compromise, remain honest and open to each other, and also remember and recognize on a daily basis what you love each other for.
We are constantly encouraged to “not worry about small things” and not “worry about small things”, but often it is the small things that have the greatest negative impact on our mood: endless phone calls with the insurance company, rude cashier at the grocery store, unsuccessful 20-minute search for an empty parking space.
“We allow such things to annoy us because they trigger unconscious fears,” says Ken Yeager, ” the fear of appearing irresponsible, being bullied or ridiculed, or, say, the fear of being late for something. Sometimes you just need to take a step back and really understand the fact that you are doing the best you can do under the circumstances.”
Other people’s stresses
In 2014, a study was carried out in Germany, the results of which indicate the contagiousness and contagiousness of stress. In a series of experiments, most of those participants who simply watched other people perform stressful tasks also found increased secretion of cortisol – the ” stress hormone.” This phenomenon is known as empathic stress. You can also become stressed out if someone you know is the victim of a traumatic situation, such as a car accident or serious illness. As Dr. Yeager says, ” … you start to worry: oh my God, this could have happened to me! Usually we try not to think about it, and we don’t think about it – until the trouble is somewhere near our home.”
It may seem that social networks like Facebook or Instagram are the only way to maintain friendships with those you see infrequently – and during particularly busy periods, you don’t see almost any of your friends. But the same social networks, according to numerous studies by the Pew Research Center They can also have the opposite effect: they allow you to instantly learn about all the stressful situations and events that occur in the lives of your friends, and thereby add stress to your own life. And although the Pew Research Center in 2015 could not convincingly prove this as a general rule, earlier studies have shown that frequent use of social networks can lead, at the very least, to a negative perception of one’s own body and to a significant prolongation of the period of “heartache” when breaking up relationships.
Switching your attention can be a great way to take your mind off a stressful situation or making a difficult decision, such as taking a break from a stressful job to meet a friend for lunch. However, it also works in the opposite direction, namely: it may turn out that you are thinking hard about something stressful and this prevents you from fully enjoying what is happening around you “now and here”. This type of distraction can be called one of the recipes for stress.
“Various practices of increasing concentration, thoughtfulness, and concentration provide your brain with a refresh (in the original, it says “refresh”, this is a clear allusion to the forced reloading and refreshing of the page in web browsers and maximize productivity as needed, ” says Richard Lenox, director of the Student Advisory Center at Texas Tech University. He adds: “Being completely focused on your surroundings when you’re walking or driving is a good idea. Stress and anxiety tend to dissolve when all attention is focused on the present.”
Traumatic events that you experienced as a child can continue to increase your stress levels and negatively affect your health in adulthood. In 2014, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison conducted a study that showed that negative childhood experiences can actually change the functioning of those parts of the brain that are responsible for processing stress and emotions. The conditions in which you grew up can still influence your daily level of anxiety (one of the meanings of the English term “angst” is existential anxiety, which in this case is more accurateIn the same year 2014, this was confirmed by researchers from Johns Hopkins University. It has been shown that those children whose parents suffer from social anxiety disorder have a higher risk of developing so-called descending,” seeping down ” anxiety, not only because of genetic factors, but also because of the characteristics of parental behavior, in particular, a lack of emotions and warmth, or a high level of criticism, doubts, demands, etc.
Tea and chocolate
You probably know that you shouldn’t drink too much coffee if you feel “on edge”. Dr. Ken Yeager recalls: “Caffeine is always known to make stress worse. But you might not realize that a few consecutive cups of tea or a chocolate bar contain almost as much caffeine as a cup of strong coffee. Chocolate, for example, is a powerful source of caffeine, and I personally know some people who don’t drink coffee at all, but eat six chocolates and bars in two hours, because they unconsciously want an extra shake.” In other words, the abuse of caffeine in any form can lead to irritability and emotional instability, sleep disorders and digestive disorders.
When things don’t go quite as planned, do you tend to get frustrated, discouraged, and defensive, or do you respond to fate with blow for blow, readjusting as you go and developing a new plan?
If the former, then you are driving your own thinking on pessimistic rails and developing a “victim of circumstances” psychology, which gradually weakens you – even if in reality the situation is not as bad as it may seem to you. “Your level of serenity and peace is inversely proportional to your expectations,” says K. Yeager succinctly. This doesn’t mean, of course, that you shouldn’t set ambitious goals or settle for less than you deserve, but being realistic about your expectations and estimates of opportunities is actually very important.
Your stress response
If you tend to try to overcome stressful situations by working out for hours on end, skipping exercise and / or eating unhealthy food in large quantities, then the bad news is that you are only making yourself worse. “We all know that physical activity and a healthy diet help the body better cope with stress, and yet we often neglect this method when it is most needed,” says K. Yeager. “People really should think about this stressful funnel, which is so easy to get caught up in, and do something meaningful to counteract it.”
Do you think you’re super efficient if you’re trying to solve four tasks at once? Rather, it’s just the opposite: this only reduces your productivity and increases your stress levels. You can refer, for example, to a 2012 study at Irvine University (California). Among other things, the results show that people who answer emails all day and try to work at the same time are more likely to face the problem of heart rate variability. (a reliable indicator of mental stress), than those who postpone correspondence and do not seek to immediately respond to all those who wrote. Focusing on a single task can ensure that you are doing the job to the maximum of your abilities and abilities, and you will not have to worry about the result, or go back to fix it. And don’t worry: you’ll always have plenty of time to do everything. In fact, you can easily see for yourself that you have much more time than you think.
If you are a fan and your favorite team is fighting hard, it can be stressful – even if “your” team wins. “The body doesn’t always distinguish between’ bad ‘stress associated with everyday circumstances or hard work and ‘good’ stress and excitement on the day of an important match,” says Jody Gilchrist, a nurse practitioner at the University of Alabama’s Birmingham Cardiovascular Clinic. An enthusiastic and passionate viewing of sporting events can even activate the sympathetic nervous system. «Adi Syndrome”), releasing increased amounts of epinephrine and reducing blood flow to the heart. These temporary, transient effects are usually not a cause for concern, but over time, chronic stress can lead to a persistent increase in blood pressure and, in general, increases the risk of serious diseases. And of course, drinking alcohol and gluttony only aggravate the situation, which is already stressful for your body. “It’s not up to you to decide the outcome of the match,” says Gilchrist, ” but you can at least limit the adverse effects for the sake of your body.”
“Whether they are used for work or play, high technology can play a very bad role for your mental health,” says Ken Yeager. – Using computers or e-books just before going to bed can cause various dissomnia, i.e. sleep disorders, as well as a passion for virtual communication can turn real human interactions into something stressful. In addition, constantly typing your lines on the keyboard does not activate the” feel-good hormones ” that are released in a face-to-face conversation.
Finally, sooner or later, a catastrophic “failure of performance” occurs if employees are connected to their work via smartphones, even during a break or on weekends. People say, for example, that they only need to stop by for a second and check their email, but in reality, the messages they receive fill you with new responsibilities, new tasks and dilemmas, and all this remains in your head for hours, where it is difficult to isolate or block anything during the rest period.
Your (strong) health
This may not be as stressful as having a chronic illness or hearing bad news in the doctor’s office, but even people in great shape worry about their health, diet, fitness level, etc. In fact, people who take their commitment to a healthy lifestyle to the extreme are at risk of experiencing some unhealthy side effects. So, adherents of low-carb diets are more likely to notice a state of melancholy or signs of stress, while supporters of any restrictive diets feel more tired than usual. And it is not unique when someone becomes completely obsessed with healthy eating (orthorexia) or exercise (gymorexia). Like any other form of perfectionism, such extremes can be stressful to say the least, and in the worst cases very dangerous.
When you roll up and fold your laundry, does it calm you down, or does it make your blood boil with anger?
If you find yourself in a situation where you feel that you have to do an unfairly large part of your homework, then even those things that you once enjoyed can now be perceived as torture. It can be difficult to share household responsibilities and parental responsibilities fairly, especially if both parents work outside the home. And whether you consider the current division equal or unequal depends on your attitude to homework.
According to Ken Yeager, stress can be interpreted as any perceived or real threat, and any doubts that you have can contribute to increasing your anxiety levels on a daily basis. “When you know that something is going to change at any moment, you are constantly in a state of alert anticipation, and it is difficult for you to even relax, let alone enjoy reality.” Financial uncertainty can be the most obvious example of such a stressor: uncertainty about whether you will keep your job during the next downsizing period, or a lack of understanding of how you will be able to pay all your loan bills. The lack of security in other areas of life, such as a close relationship or a place to live, can also literally eat away at you.
It doesn’t matter how much you love your furry friends, but there’s no question that their presence adds extra responsibility to a bowl that’s already almost overflowing. Even a healthy pet should be fed and walked, cleaned up and regularly attended to; if the pet is sick, then this is a different story altogether. “Pets can be the most positive source of unconditional love, but at the same time, they require a lot of energy from you,” says Yeager. – In addition, people tend to underestimate the stress they face when losing a pet. More than once in my office, people have told me that they cried more for a dead dog than for their dead parents. It’s a very intense emotional connection.”
Having a college degree increases your chances of getting a well-paying job. So while you may be less likely to experience stress and anxiety related to your financial future, questions about your education can put you under a different type of stress. This is stated in the report of a study conducted in 2014 by the team of Professor Scott Schiman at the University of Toronto. It was found that highly educated people are more susceptible to stress, which is caused by the pressure of functional responsibilities and responsibilities, overloads, conflicts between work and family. “A high level of power and responsibility is accompanied by a much heavier interpersonal burden, such as the need to monitor other people’s work or make decisions about their career development,” says S. Schiman. “People who are invested with this responsibility start to see certain things, such as someone’s incompetence or shirking their responsibilities, as their own personal problem, which ultimately dramatically increases their stress levels.”
If you live on a busy street in a big city, you are chronically exposed to acoustic pollution.
As numerous studies show, even low levels of constant noise can cause sleep disorders, which in turn is a trigger for stress. Noise can also directly cause stress if you focus your attention on it arbitrarily or involuntarily (hey, who can enjoy a day spent playing to the accompaniment of jackhammers?). “The greatest stress is caused by low – predictive high-pitched noise,” says Frank Ginassi, Ph. D., president and executive director of the Center for Behavioral Therapy at Rutgers University. – In general, this is any noise that you can hear in an urban environment. It can interfere with concentration and thus require increased energy consumption to overcome this frustration.”
Psychologist John Mayer, Ph. D., and owner of the podcast “Anxiety’s a B!tch”(translated as something like “C!ka – anxiety”) adds to this: “In particular, your amygdala, the brain structure that normally regulates emotions, responds to noise. And if noise is detected, the amygdala activates cortisol release.”
Get stressed out. Do you need to wrap it up?
Life in a pandemic
It’s easy to give up and convince yourself that you’re doing the right thing during a global pandemic. However, J. R. R. TolkienMayer believes that it is much more difficult not to fall victim to at least one of the factors of the COVID-19 crisis, whether it is irritation about the inability to lead a normal lifestyle, anxiety about the place of work or a real fear of catching the coronavirus. “First of all, a person’s defense mechanism of denial is triggered,” says Mayer. – And if you feel that the stressors are out there, far beyond your own life, it means that this mechanism of psychological protection is already involved. You can continue to live under the anesthesia of denial until you or someone close to you is affected by the immediate consequences of the pandemic, but the stress remains with you all the time.”
“The problem here is that stress accumulates over time, which makes you feel completely exhausted,” adds F.Ginassi.
On the one hand, if you whine and complain about your fate, you get rid of the painful thoughts that have accumulated inside, as if in a corked bottle. But on the other hand, you once again double-check and repeat everything that has already become a source of constant tension, and again get upset.
Frank Ginassi recommends that you reconsider the way you use your words, while trying to make the reason for whining less scary. One example: call something ” annoying “(meaning that you can live with it, in principle), instead of calling it “terrible” (which sounds on the verge of catastrophic).
Of course, sometimes a glass of wine after a long hard day can help you relax. But sometimes it can work against you, too. Alcohol can actually trigger the release of the same cortisol, the stress hormone – and you’ll be even more overwhelmed when you need to come out of a relaxed state. According to John Mayer, if you drink too much, you will then have to deal with such phenomena as memory problems and difficulties in verbalizing judgments, which in no way helps to reduce stress levels.