Psychosocial stress affects everyone at some point in their lives … but if left unchecked it can be more dangerous than you might imagine. Psychosocial stress is the result of a cognitive assessment (your mental interpretation) of what is at stake and what can be done about it. In simpler terms, psychosocial stress results when we observe a perceived social threat in our lives (real or even imagined) and we discern that it may require resources that we do not have.
When you feel psychosocial stress
Examples of psychosocial stress can include anything that translates into a perceived threat to our social status, social esteem, respect and / or acceptance within a group; threatens our self-esteem; or a threat that we feel we have no control over.
All of these threats can lead to a stress response in the body. These can be some of the most overwhelming stressors to deal with, as they can make us feel unsupported and in total loneliness … all of this can make it difficult to handle without proper strategies.
When stress is triggered
When psychosocial stress triggers a stress response , the body releases a group of stress hormones including cortisol, epinephrine (or adrenaline), and dopamine, causing a burst of energy and other changes in the body. In response to stress, the person may feel the need to flee or confront the situation, usually with some aggression.
Changes caused by stress hormones can be helpful in the short term, but they can be harmful in the long term. For example, cortisol can improve the body’s function by increasing available energy (so that fight or flight is possible) but it can lead to suppression of the immune system as well as a host of other effects.
Epinephrine can also mobilize energy, but it creates negative psychological and physical results with prolonged exposure. That is why it is important to manage psychosocial stress in our lives so that the stress response is only activated when necessary. It is also important to learn stress relief techniques to effectively reverse the stress response so that we do not experience prolonged states of stress or chronic stress.
How to manage psychosocial stress
There are several ways to manage psychosocial stress, since it involves external factors (with which we are faced) and internal factors (our ideas about it), it can affect multiple areas of life. Here are some strategies to help you deal with psychosocial stress.
Develop conflict resolution skills
Conflict is an almost inevitable part of any interpersonal relationship. People are going to have disagreements, they will see things from different angles and perspectives. The way conflict is handled can create significant psychosocial stress, but if you can work on your conflict resolution skills, that can at least help you feel better: you can change what you bring into the situation, you can blur some of the negativity, and you can model healthier behavior. This can greatly minimize the stress felt by everyone involved.
Avoid the drama
If you think about it, you know who you can trust to support you and who you can’t. Simply spending more time with those who make your life easier and minimizing the time spent with those who make you feel stressed can reduce much of the psychosocial stress you experience on a daily basis. You won’t cut through all the drama you experience, but you can stop it to a great extent.
Sometimes we can feel angry about things that do not affect us as much, but the stress that is felt as a result is not at all necessary. Changing your perspective or changing your focus will lower your stress levels almost automatically.