Stress is a big problem for modern society. It is a condition in which a person suffers from mental or emotional strain that can lead to serious health complications and diseases. Stress is everywhere. It can be triggered by your friends, family, work, and traumatic events.

According to a CNN survey, these are the top causes of stress for Filipinos. Out of 200 respondents, 22.85% are stressed about their Job or Studies; 14.84% on Heavy Traffic; 14.54% on Finances; 12.46% on Personal Relationships; 4.15% on Life Changes; 2.67% on Health Reasons; 1.19% on Social Media;  and 3.56% on others.

ManilaMed psychiatrist, Dr. Tomas Bautista, shared with viewers of ManilaMed Health Line on FB Live, the effects of stress and the proper way to manage them.

How does stress develop?

According to Dr. Bautista, a stressful situation triggers the body to release certain chemicals to the muscles which, in return, release adrenalin. This is a good effect of stress, since it can help us escape or fight off danger. For example, when there is fire, your stress reaction can give you enough speed and strength to rescue loved ones, or lift heavy objects you want to save like appliances, cabinets, and the like.

Dr. Bautista believes that “…may difference [between rural and urban stress]. Iba lang ang causes ng stress  doon sa rural at dito sa urban. At iba din ang paraan para ma-distress ang mga tao dito sa urban area at doon sa rural.”

While urban residents may experience stress due to their office jobs, heavy traffic, and meetings; Dr. Bautista explains the cause of stress in rural areas by citing this example, “graduate ka ng college and yet nag-graduate ka lang sa isang ordinaryong na college. Nakikita mo ang iyong kasama na nasa Manila – nakabili na ng kotse. Araw-araw mong iisipin yun or mareremind ka everytime may makita ka. Stressful kaya yun”

Can stress trigger and develop diseases?

The answer is a big yes. Here’s list of common and severe diseases that you can get from stress:

  • Headache
  • Muscle Pain
  • Chest Pain (hard to breathe)
  • Heart Disease
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Phobia
  • Psoriasis
  • Hypertension
  • Depression
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Premature Death

Continuous stress may worsen these conditions. For example, hypertension may lead to stroke; phobia and depression may lead to extreme mental disorders, etc.

How to cope with stress

Dr. Bautista said that individuals should learn to handle stress on a case-to-case basis. It depends on each person what strategy he/she will use to manage stressors. Dr. Bautista gave general guidelines that would help people avoid or better cope with stress.

  • Be mindful and conscious of your own capacity for stress; don’t take on more than you can handle
  • Find out what helps you relieve stress. This might include:
  1. Eating comfort food
  2. Watching a movie
  3. Listening to music
  4. Spending quality time with your loved ones
  • Listen to advice from your friends and loved ones
  • Identify what stresses you and avoid them or prepare an effective response. For example, if being stuck in traffic stresses you out, change your morning schedule so you can leave the house earlier.
  • List your priorities and accomplish tasks in that order
  • Practice a healthy lifestyle: a nutritious diet, enough sleep, regular exercise, and taking days off to rest and do a hobby.

There are many ways to handle stress on your own. However, if stress is causing symptoms that disrupt your studies, job, or personal life and relationships, it’s better to consult with a mental health professional. Seeking help early will give you relief sooner and prevent further risks to your health.

ManilaMed has expert psychiatrists like Dr. Tomas Bautista who can help you find relief from stress and recover from its effects. Visit ManilaMed or call (02) 523 8131 for more information.