How to Cope with Environmental Stress in 2021
Stress: Basic Concept
Stress is defined as your body’s reaction to anything that causes emotional or mental pressure. It is entirely normal to experience stress in some situations, determining the body’s ability to cope with fight or flight responses. Still, prolonged stress is alarming for your mental and physical well-being.
While there is a wide range of stressors and types of stress, we will focus on environmental stress in this article.
What is Environmental Stress:
Environmental stress is described as how organisms respond to their environment’s physiological, chemical, and biological features. It can also be defined as a state that causes you emotional or mental strain because of an imbalance between the demands of environmental stressors and resources to cope with these demands.
The environmental stressors include pollution, natural disasters, hyper or hypothermal conditions, etc. Interestingly, natural stressors do not always produce adverse effects on the ecosystem or the organisms. But, every individual responds differently to a stressor. A stressor that causes you stress may benefit other organisms or species. However, the stressors influenced by human activities are more harmful to our environment and organisms.
Types of Environmental stress:
Environmental stressors are divided into the following categories.
- Climatic Stressors
- Chemical stressors
- Anthropogenic stress
- Physical stressors
- Biological stressors
- Ergonomic stressors
The environmental stressors sometimes occur as brief and intense episodes, also known as disturbance.
When we talk about environmental stress, weather and climate are two factors that affect the ecosystem and organisms significantly. Climatic stress mainly refers to insufficient or excessive climate changes like temperature, moisture, wind, floods, droughts, etc.
Chemical exposure is a common thing we all encounter in our daily life. From our food to beauty and household products, everything contains a percentage of chemicals. However, these chemicals don’t cause us mental stress but are potentially hazardous for our physical well-being. Our liver and kidneys have natural detoxification processes. Still, because of our exposure to many chemicals, these organs can’t keep up with that, which results in the accumulation of the chemicals in our body, leading to long-term health complications.
Environmental stressors that are artificial are known as anthropogenic stressors. In this era, most people live far away from the natural environment like big noisy cities, while living in the cities has its own set of advantages. Still, the constant traffic, noise, crowding, and industries create harmful effects on the mind and body. People who live nearby railway stations or airports face health consequences such as high blood sugar and pressure because of noise pollution.
Physical stressors include light, noise, pains, etc. When there is intense exposure to kinetic energy, it causes drastic changes to the ecosystem and organisms. For example, When sunlight is absent or too much sunlight, both act as stressors. During the winter season, the habitants of higher altitudes experience gloomy moods and blues because a seasonal affective disorder occurs due to less or no exposure to sunshine. Physical stressors also include windstorms, volcanic eruptions, etc.
Biological stressors occur when organisms compete to get something from the environment. E.g., in herbivory parasitism, one organism competes or exploits another organism. Viruses, bacteria, and allergens are also biological stressors known to cause severe effects on our physical and mental well-being. This type of environmental stress can be anthropogenic, meaning caused by human activities or could be natural.
Stressors that cause disturbance or discomfort in your working environment are known as ergonomic stressors. They include the wrong posture while completing a task, force required to finish a job, or continuously repeating any task. These factors alone or in combination cause significant stress in the workplace.
Environmental Stress Factors:
The major environmental stress factors are:
- Sound and vibration
- Population or crowding
Other factors you may encounter in your daily life are radioactive materials, chemicals, weather changes, etc. these factors hurt the physical and mental well-being of the people.
The environmental stress factors, either alone or combined, affect people in three ways most of the time.
Stress affects our health and hinders normal bodily function because of the hyperarousal of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol is responsible for controlling many vital functions of the body; it also prevents inflammation and immune reactions. But stress for prolonged periods is associated with cortisol’s inability to respond to inflammation and immune responses. It means chronic stress can lead to chronic inflammation and can also put you at the risk of getting autoimmune disorders. Poor health leads to poor performance, which ultimately reduces the comfort level.
Stressors like temperature, light, sound or any other environmental factor produce adverse effects on people after reaching a certain level. When you try to go beyond the ideal range of environmental stress factors, they demand more effort, leading to reduced performance and comfort. For example, suppose you want to examine fine details on an image under too low or too high illumination levels. In that case, you will be unable to do that even after putting in extra effort, which results in extreme discomfort and stress.
How to cope with environmental stress:
- Stay close to nature
Studies suggest that living in natural environments reduces exposure to environmental stressors.
- Visit natural parks and greener areas.
- Walking barefoot on the grass can help in reducing environmental stress.
- Plant trees in your surroundings to minimize the effects of chemical and other stressors.
As discussed earlier, stress hurts the mental and physical well-being of the individual. Therefore, it is essential to incorporate healthy activities in your life to minimize the risks of environmental stress. Such as
- Exercise not only regulates pressure but also has a positive impact on overall health.
- Joining a gym or club in your area will also increase social interaction, which relieves stress.
Avoid environmental stressors.
The most important thing you can do to cope with environmental stress is avoiding the stressors where it is possible.
- Using noise-canceling devices to reduce the effects of loud noise helps with stress and promotes a good sleep pattern.
- Give yourself a break from technology now and then.
- Build resilience by maintaining good relationships with friends and family. It keeps you away from the unwanted effects of cortisol hyperarousal.
- Avoid using blue fluorescent lights where possible because they stimulate the brain, causing a disturbance in sleep patterns and increasing environmental stress. You can also use cbd oil for sleep to avoid stress and become relaxed.