Stress. It is something we have all experienced at some point during our lives.
We experience stress for several different reasons: trying to get good grades in university, meeting work demands while raising a family, or dealing with a change in your life (good or bad!).
Although experiencing stress is often a negative experience for many of us, it is important to recognize why stress is inevitable and how we can learn to cope with the effects of stress. The focus is to examine why young adults (early-mid 20’s) are more prone to experiencing stress and the factors that contribute to stress.
1. What is Stress?
According to Psychology Today Canada, stress is a psychological response to pressure or an event. Your brain views the pressure or event as a type of danger and the body becomes prepared to face this danger.
You may have noticed there are physical symptoms that are associated with stress. For example, you may feel your heart start to race, you stomach may hurt, or you may experience a headache. You experience these symptoms when you encounter a stressful event because this event causes the release of adrenaline and cortisol.
There are also emotional and behavioural symptoms that are associated with stress:
- Persistent Negative Thoughts
- Trouble Concentrating
- Mood swings
- Trouble Sleeping
2. What Is Eustress?
Eustress is a type of stress we experience that is associated with a positive event. For example, on the first day of your new job, you may be excited to start but you are also feeling stressed about getting through your first day.
Another example is planning for a wedding. You may feel stressed when planning everything but at the same time, you view this process as positive because you are planning for an important event.
3. What is Negative Stress?
Negative stress is associated with a negative experience and negative stress symptoms. Also known as distress, the individual experiences prolonged stress symptoms such as anxiety and depression and lasts long term.
For example, if you lost a loved one in a car accident, you would be experiencing stress-related symptoms such as insomnia, headaches, and stomachaches. The grieving process would also take a while to work through.
4. Why are Young Adults Stressed?
It is well-known that too many young adults feel stressed.
According to the Cardiac Screen website, the following causes of stress in young adults are: work-related, financial worries, housing (as many rent and may have to relocate often) and feeling intense pressure to succeed academically in college, do well in a career, and social pressure of finding a lifelong partner
In addition, many young adults experience stress from different areas in their life. For example, a 26-year-old may experience stress in finding a job after graduation and also feel stress as a result from family pressure to find a romantic partner.
5. How You Can Minimize Stress
According to the Mental Health Foundation Website, young adults can use a variety of strategies to minimize any stress. The following strategies to take care of your mental health are:
- Review your lifestyle: Decide whether you currently have too many responsibilities now and need to reduce the number of responsibilities you have. Are there things you are doing which could be handed over to someone else? Can you do things in a more leisurely way?
- Realize what is making you stressed: Identify the main cause of your stress. Is it your current workload at your job? Your studies in university or college? Or are you feeling any difficulties in your relationships with family, friends, or a partner?
- Realize what is the main source or cause of your stress: Be aware of the physical symptoms you may experience and identify the difference between feeling ill or tired and the stress you are experiencing. For example, do you have a headache because you are sick or is it a physical symptom of stress?
To act on the answer to these questions, you may need to prioritize things you are trying to achieve and reorganize your life. This will help to release pressure that can come from trying to do everything at once, reducing your overall stress.
Blog post by Lara Silkstone, Volunteer
Heissman, Kara (2021). Lifehack. Five Signs You are Way Too Stressed Retrieved from https://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/14-warning-signs-that-youre-way-too-stressed.html
Mental Health Foundation (2021). How to Manage and Reduce Stress Retrieved from https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/how-manage-and-reduce-stress
Psychology Today Canada (2021). Stress. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/basics/stress#:~:text=Stress%20generally%20refers%20to%20two,metabolism%20to%20muscles%20to%20memory.
The Mental Health Specialists (28 February 2020). Why do Young Adults Get More Stressed? Retrieved from https://www.cardiacscreen.co.uk/blog/why-do-young-adults-get-more-stressed/#:~:text=Causes%20of%20Stress%20in%20Young%20Adults&text=Work%2Drelated%20stress%20is%20very,to%20be%20less%20financially%20secure