Emotional Wellbeing

Inspiration

Mental Health

Self Improvement

Mandy Kloppers

How to Handle Stress

We all have to deal with stress, no matter who we are or where we come from. It’s a part of life and it pays to find ways to accept stress and work with it.  if you are stressed out, you might not even realise it. Stress creeps up on us slowly (most of the time) and suddenly we are enduring excessively high amounts. Stress can easily accumulate if we don’t deal with it. For example, Covid started off a lot of stress for people and many still feel the effects of this. Then you might have an ongoing health issue or a difficult boss etc. We all have finite amounts of emotional resilience. Finding ways to release stress is vital in this fast-paced troubled world.

Common Symptoms of Stress

1) Lack of energy

2) Lack of desire

3) Aches and pains

4) Anxiety/worrying

5) Inability to concentrate

6) Trouble sleeping

7) Depression/frustration/anger

EMOTIONAL SIGNS

  • Tearful
  • Irritable
  • Mood swings
  • Extra sensitive to criticism
  • Defensive
  • Feeling out of control
  • Lack of motivation
  • Angry
  • Frustrated
  • Lack of confidence
  • Lack of self-esteem

PHYSICAL SIGNS

  • Aches/pains & muscle tension/grinding teeth
  • Frequent colds/infections
  • Allergies/rashes/skin irritations
  • Constipation/diarrhoea/ IBS
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Indigestion/heartburn/ulcers
  • Hyperventilating/lump in the throat/pins & needles
  • Dizziness/palpitations
  • Panic attacks/nausea
  • Physical tiredness
  • Menstrual changes/loss of libido/sexual problems
  • Heart problems/high blood pressure

BEHAVIOURAL SIGNS

  • No time for relaxation or pleasurable activities
  • Prone to accidents, forgetfulness
  • Increased reliance on alcohol, smoking, caffeine, recreational or illegal drugs
  • Becoming a workaholic
  • Poor time management and/or poor standards of work
  • Absenteeism
  • Self neglect/change in appearance
  • Social withdrawal
  • Relationship problems
  • Insomnia or waking tired
  • Reckless
  • Aggressive/anger outbursts
  • Nervous
  • Uncharacteristically lying

For many years, people have referred to the Flight or Fight response as the stress response but Flight/Fight is a one off reaction to a perceived challenge or pressure and as such, is a safety response, ensuring the individual is alerted to possible threats allowing them to take avoiding action.

However, continually being in this state means that the body chemicals associated with Flight/Fight are constantly being stimulated and the result is imbalance, creating ill health of one type or another. This is stress.

How to alleviate stress

1) Listen to soothing and/or happy music

2)Speak to someone – a supportive friend or a mental health professional

3) Meditate

4) Exercise

5) Laughter

6)Play with your pet

7) Write down your worries

8) Take a break from technology. Switch the mobile phone off and avoid the news for a while.

9) Try a massage or visit a spa for the day

Remember the four As: avoid, alter, adapt, or accept.

  • Avoid unnecessary stress. Not all stress can be avoided, but by learning how to say no, distinguishing between shoulds and musts on your to-do list, and steering clear of people or situations that stress you out, you can eliminate many daily stressors.
  • Alter the situation. If you can’t avoid a stressful situation, try to alter it. Be more assertive and deal with problems head on. Instead of bottling up your feelings and increasing your stress, respectfully let others know about your concerns. Or be more willing to compromise and try meeting others halfway on an issue.
  • Adapt to the stressor. When you can’t change the stressor, try changing yourself. Reframe problems or focus on the positive things in your life. If a task at work has you stressed, focus on the aspects of your job you do enjoy. And always look at the big picture: is this really something worth getting upset about?
  • Accept the things you can’t change. There will always be stressors in life that you can’t do anything about. Learn to accept the inevitable rather than rail against a situation and making it even more stressful. Look for the upside in a situation. Even the most stressful circumstances can be an opportunity for learning or personal growth. Learn to accept that no one, including you, is ever perfect.

Beyond a certain point, stress stops being helpful and starts causing major damage to your health, your mood, your productivity, your relationships, and your quality of life.

The body doesn’t distinguish between physical and psychological threats. When you’re stressed over a busy schedule, an argument with a friend, a traffic jam, or a mountain of bills, your body reacts just as strongly as if you were facing a life-or-death situation. If you have a lot of responsibilities and worries, your emergency stress response may be activated most of the time. The more your body’s stress system is activated, the harder it is to shut off.

Long-term exposure to stress can lead to serious health problems. Chronic stress disrupts nearly every system in your body. It can raise blood pressure, suppress the immune system, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, contribute to infertility, and speed up the ageing process. Long-term stress can even rewire the brain, leaving you more vulnerable to anxiety and depression.

Ensure that you keep a check on your stress levels and develop a personal strategy for effectively dealing with stress. Don’t put it off – life is all about balance.

Mandy X

Refs:

https://www.isma.org.uk/about-stress/facts-about-stress/#.UuqiVnfV8gk

https://www.helpguide.org/mental/stress_signs.htm

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