If you find you are rushing through your day, not feeling your best but are too busy to stop and take a break, then stress in your body and mind may be buiding up. Understanding stress and then dealing with it is the key to feeling healthier and happier.
What is stress?
Stress is the way we cope with pressure. Stress is not the cause, stress is a symptom and pressure is the cause
What happens when we get stressed?
The body has an inbuilt physical response to stressful situations.
Faced with pressure, challenge or danger, we need to react quickly. We release hormones that are part of the "fight or flight" response resulting in a heightened - or stressed - state that prepares the body for optimum performance in dealing with a stressful situation.
Very often, modern stresses do not call for either fight or flight.
Nevertheless, the same stressing hormones are released as part of the reaction and this natural reaction to challenge or danger, instead of helping, can damage health and reduce the ability to cope.
What causes stress?
Many things can lead to stress, some examples are:
• pressure to perform at work
• guilt, perfectionism, worry
• money worries
• family conflicts
• moving house
• poor nutrition, alcohol, smoking.
Sometimes, there is no particular reason for developing stress, or it arises out of a series of minor irritations. Also, just the anticipation of events or circumstances can lead to stress.
Who gets stressed?
Everyone is at risk of being stressed, since it can be caused by a range of commonplace situations.
However, everyone has different lifestyles, personalities, up- bringings and genes which can mean people cope with stress differently.
It is important to differentiate between temporary stress that you know will go away when a situation is resolved, and long-term or chronic stress. Most people can cope with short periods of stress, and it can often be relieved by relaxing, taking a walk, chatting through issues with friends, or having a good night's sleep. Chronic (long-term, continuous) stress should be dealt with more seriously before it becomes too physically and emotionally damaging.
To prevent and to cure chronic stress, the first step is to understand your personal stress levels and be aware of how stress might be affecting you.
How does stress manifests itself in our bodies?
Count how many of these symptoms you suffer from or have suffered from in the last 3 months.
• constant irritability with other people
• difficulty in making decisions
• loss of sense of humour
• suppressed anger
• difficulty concentrating
• inability to finish one task before starting another
• feeling the target of other people's animosity
• feeling unable to cope
• lack of interest in doing things after work
• constant tiredness
• lack of appetite
• craving for food when under pressure
• frequent indigestion or heartburn
• constipation or diarrhoea
• tendency to sweat for no good reason
• nervous twitches, nailbiting etc
• headaches, cramps, muscle spasms, nausea
• impotency or frigidity
Understanding your stress levels
If you counted.....
Under 3 in both categories:
You may have short term stress. Start taking some preventative measures to prevent any long term stress.
Between 3 and 8:
You may have a degree of long term stress. It is important to regularly practice relaxation techniques. By doing this you will reduce this stress quite quickly.
8 or more:
You may have some form of chronic stress. There is no need to worry but it is important to make some lifestyle changes to reduce this stress.
How can stress be reduced?
• Be aware of your own body- know when you are feeling a symptom. This will help to reduce stress
• Regularly practice deep breathing techniques
• Do exercise daily
• Look at improving your nutrition
• Talk to people about how you are feeling to lighten the load
• Don’t put pressure on yourself
• Learn to say no
• Feel less guilty when doing things for you and sometimes it is ok to be selfish
• Avoid negative people
• Use positive thinking
The key to relaxation is about understanding your own body and being able to identify when your body and mind are under pressure. By combining this knowledge with positive thinking techniques, effective lifestyle management and deep relaxation you will become healthier, happier and have more energy!
If you would like more information on how to reduce your stress please drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org about one to one Wellbeing Coaching session in Bath and London.