Most people experience at least a small amount of psychosocial stress in their every day lives. In fact, they'd probably be bored without it. Stress becomes a problem, though, when it is chronic and uncontrolled. This kind of stress can hijack your life and make you miserable. In the short term, stress can cause problems such as headache, upset stomach, tense muscles, difficulty sleeping and irritability. In the long term, untreated stress has been linked with far more serious problems such as heart disease and certain forms of cancer.
Many events in your life can lead to psychosocial stress. The most heartbreaking of these is the loss of a loved one. The death of someone you care about can be especially stressful if the person died suddenly, if he or she died a traumatic death as in the case of murder or suicide and if the death has left you burdened with financial obligations or other responsibilities. Going to a support group for people who have suffered similar losses may ease this kind of stress. A support group is a good place to express your own feelings of grief and loss and to learn how other people are coping.
Health problems can also cause a significant amount of stress. It's bad enough not to feel well. It's even worse if an illness or injury forces you to change your lifestyle. You may have to quit your job or work fewer hours, for instance, or you may have to give up activities or foods that you enjoy. A condition that interferes with your ability to work can cause financial problems. Going through the application process for disability or living on a reduced income can increase your stress even more. Stress is also likely to intensify if your condition becomes life-threatening or life-limiting.
A third common source of psychosocial stress if experiencing problems at work or at school. Work and/or school are where you spend most of your days. Trouble there can seep into other areas of your life as well. Obviously being fired, laid off or expelled is very stressful. So is receiving a bad performance review or a low grade on a paper or test. This is especially true if you believe the review or the grade is unfair. Many people also have to contend with bullies on the job or in the classroom.
If you are experiencing high levels of psychosocial stress, there are several steps you can take to ease the pressure. First, try to squeeze in at least 30 minutes of exercise each day. Taking a few minutes to pray or meditate may also help you feel more relaxed. If you feel that stress is getting the better of you, talk to your doctor or meet with a counselor or a member of the clergy. Experiencing psychosocial stress can be a challenge, but it doesn't have to ruin your life.