What is the leading cause of stress, and how to avoid it


At some point in our lives, we all have used the word stress to describe our state of mind, but what is it? Stress is our body’s automatic and natural response to situations that arise when a person suffers from nervous tension, a product of various conditions.

According to the VII CinfaSalud Study, endorsed by the Spanish SocietySociety for the Study of Anxiety and Stress (SEAS), 12.5 million Spaniards in adulthood feel frequently or continuously stressed. This can lead to physical illness or psychological or emotional problems such as anxiety or depression.

Julio Maset, the medical expert at Cinfa and spokesperson for the study, explains that feeling stress is a quick reaction of the body to demand, so, initially, it does not have to be negative. “The problem arises when the individual does not have sufficient resources to face this reaction and feels overloaded. If this situation continues over time, the physical and mental health of the person may end up deteriorating”, points out the specialist. In Spain, 53.3 per cent of SocietySociety reaches that maximum stress level.

Specifically, the study reveals that family factors, with 74.3 per cent, generate much more stress than economic ones, with 49.7 per cent. Consequently, four out of ten respondents say frequent stress causes performance and concentration problems.

More stress in women

The study conducted by Cinfa and endorsed by the SEAS is based on an online questionnaire carried out on a representative sample of 3,009 people between the ages of 18 and 64 from all the autonomous communities. According to the results, stress affects women more often than men, one in two, compared to one in three men.

Maset also explains that the fact of having children also has a significant influence on the level of stress: “among those over 31 years of age, 61 per cent of people with children state that they feel constantly stressed. In addition, this problem increases if you have a second child”, says the spokesman for the study.

By occupation, students are the ones who most indicate suffering stress frequently or continuously, 55.6 per cent; followed by people looking for their first job, 50.7 per cent, and in third place, workers both employed and self-employed.

Causes of stress

Among the people who declare they suffer from stress, 50.9 per cent attribute it to excess activities and lack of time, and the following causes are problems of tiredness or sleep with 46.2 per cent and labour conflicts with 43.2 per cent.

Regarding the latter, Alonso Cano, president of SEAS, affirms that “work stress is what happens due to our work, and therefore has a lot to do with the activity we carry out, excess activity, and other activities problems such as those related to bosses and colleagues. This can produce symptoms like any other type of stress, concentration and performance problems, physical health problems, muscle problems, and emotional or psychological ones that can trigger anxiety or depression disorders.”

New technologies are also proving to be a source of stress, affecting almost three out of ten Spaniards. “Stress due to new technologies affects 28 per cent of the Spanish population, which is a high number. But, above all, it is a stress that appears due to the need to answer, due to the impossibility of disconnecting. In the study, we have seen that practically half of the respondents who work and who have suffered stress during the last year were receiving emails and calls outside of working hours, ” says Maset.

Cano explains that the most significant signs of stress, which indicate that we are no longer in a normal state and are beginning to be a problem, are “cognitive symptoms of exhaustion, tiredness, lack of concentration; and on the other hand, physical problems such as fatigue, sleep problems due to excessive activation or behavioural problems, irritability, anxiety, etc.”. That is why measures must be taken against it. For example, the respondents most often resort to talking with friends or family, 43.9 per cent, an estimate that is especially popular among women.

Tips to avoid stress

According to research, people who play sports, avoid unhealthy lifestyles and follow a correct diet experience stress less often. Matt explains in this regard, “the more resources and energy our body has and the more busy our mind is with positive aspects, the better prepared we will be to face external demands and the more resistant we will be to stress. But, above all, bearing in mind that the situations that affect us the most are everyday circumstances such as traffic jams or lack of time. Training ourselves against stress is possible: we must acquire the correct physical and emotional habits“.

Specialists also give ten tips to keep stress under control:
Cope with difficult situations

Instead of procrastinating or avoiding them, face them, as they will stop worrying you once you identify and resolve them.

Train yourself in problem-solving

Learn to analyse them logically. Define the problem clearly, and make a list with the possible solutions and another of the pros and cons of each one. After this decision-making, you must stop thinking about the problem.

Organise your time well

Plan your day’s schedule well, without overloading it with activities and managing unforeseen events flexibly. In case of a lack of time, select the most important tasks according to priorities. Learn to say no.

You deserve a break

Assign a daily space to leisure and personal relationships so that you have time to rest and be with your family and also practice your hobbies or go out with friends.

Learn self-control techniques

Regularly practising activities such as relaxation, meditation or yoga will help you neutralise the physiological activation of the body that produces stress and will give you greater control of your thoughts and emotions.

Fosters personal and social relationships

Ask for help or advice from the people you trust the most. And offer to support them too. Helping others improves your mood and reduces the impact of stress.

Watch your diet

Keep regular hours and always take your time to eat slowly. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.

Do sports regularly

Physical exercise reduces stress and helps episodes last less. In addition, it promotes a feeling of well-being.

Do not subtract hours of sleep.

Rested, you will better face any conflict or threatening situation. Try to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night.

Seek professional help if necessary

If you are unable to handle stress, seek professional help. Your GP can help you identify the problem and refer you to a specialist or therapist.

Matt concludes that it is possible to act against stress if one wants to. “There are two main ways: to act on the cause of stress and to increase resistance. Concerning the first, you have to identify it, never avoid it, set a plan, and try to resolve conflicts; and as for the second, you have to look for healthy lifestyles. People who play sports, eat well and maintain correct sleep habits have a greater stress resistance”.

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