Her Health Check: How To Recognise And Deal With Stress
In our fast-paced environment, it’s not uncommon to hear people feel stressed.
From financial woes, to relationship troubles, worrying about work or a fight with a friend, there are a number of reasons why you might be feeling stressed.
So what exactly is stress?
Stress is a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances. Stress is basically your body’s way of coping with high-demand or high intensity situations.
Stress can affect people in many ways.
There are four main types of stress that people can battle with:
- Survival Stress – a common response to danger in people, it usually comes in times of high emotional stress.
- Internal Stress – Internal stress is when you are worrying constantly internally and often feel like experiences and situations are out of your control. It is often a nervous tension that can affect sleep, mood and behaviour from anxiety.
- Environmental Stress – This is when your body reacts to things around you that can cause stress such as noise, crowds, workplaces, families, home life or school. Your environment can be an overwhelming factor in increasing your stress levels.
- Fatigue and Overworked Stress – This stress can build up over long periods of time and usually takes a strong physical toll on the body. Stress can build up from feeling like there are too few supports in the workplace, feeling constantly under pressure, not knowing how to manage time or failing to take the proper time to rest and relax.
How does stress affect the body?
As stress affects people in different ways, there is no definitive guide for the symptoms of stress. Stress can present itself physically, emotionally or through changes in behaviour patterns.
The most common stress symptoms include:
- Memory problems
- Inability to concentrate
- Poor judgment
- Seeing only the negative
- Anxious or racing thoughts
- Constant worrying
- Aches and pains
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Nausea, dizziness
- Chest pain, rapid heartbeat
- Loss of sex drive
- Frequent colds
- Irritability or short temper
- Agitation, inability to relax
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Sense of loneliness and isolation
- Depression or general unhappiness
- Eating more or less
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Isolating yourself from others
- Procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities
- Using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax
- Nervous habits (e.g. nail biting, pacing)
What are the best ways to tackle stress?
Stress can be difficult to manage, but taking small, regular breaks to see how you’re coping will help you change patterns that might be affecting your moods or happiness.
The four A’s of stress management are:
- Avoid unnecessary stress. Although you can’t avoid all stress, learn to prioritise tasks, say no to unnecessary additional work and stay clear of people or situations who add drama to your daily life.
- Alter stressful situations. If you need to talk to co-workers or friends, or even assess how you can change your own routine, take action to ease your daily stresses.
- Adapt your own attitude to stressful situations. Keep a diary of stresses in your life and how you usually cope with these problems. See what actions are most effective in coping with stress or look at changing your actions to see if there is a positive change.
- Accept there are some things that can’t be changed and know when things are out of your control. Stressing about situations which you can’t have a hand in changing will cause more tension and pressure in your daily life.
You can also better cope with the symptoms of stress by strengthening your physical health:
- Set aside relaxation time: Relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation, and deep breathing help keeps the body in a calm state and restfulness which will combat some of the symptoms of stress.
- Exercise regularly: Physical activity is a great method of stress relief. As well as focussing the mind on something else, keeping your body in shape and getting enough fresh air will prevent you feeling run-down and decrease the risk of tension migraines.
- Eat a healthy diet: Well-nourished bodies are better prepared to cope with stress. Start your day with a healthy breakfast, reduce your caffeine and sugar intake, and try to cut back on alcohol and nicotine which can aggravate migraines.
- Get plenty of sleep: Getting a full eight hours sleep can help regulate mind, reduce stress and equip people with the skills and functionality to cope with stressful situations.
It is important to recognise when your body is reacting to stress and to deal with this effectively. From keeping diaries with your moods, exercise levels and feelings to actively talking to family and friends, build a support network that can help you deal with times where tension and pressure are building up on you.
If you find yourself under work pressure, why not try following some tips here. Alternatively, book in an appointment to talk to your GP who can talk to you about ways to manage your stress so as not to affect your health.