Stress | Just deal with it?

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I am glad to be back writing and producing content. It is mental health awareness week from the 13th to the 19th of May 2019 and the theme for this year is Body Image. However, today’s post will be on stress and stress management.

Whether you are a student, a business owner, parent, or in full-time employment, you would have experienced a stressful situation. A stressful situation induces the release of adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine in response to the body’s feelings of threat.

Six out of ten young people aged 18–24 felt so stressed by the pressure to succeed that they felt unable to cope. Certain situations may make you feel distressed or less able to cope, and there is no single right way to react to a stressful situation.

They are several changes that occur in the body when someone is stressed. Chronic stress can have damaging impacts on health such as developing heart disease, hypertension and high blood pressure. Studies have linked stress to stroke, anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), joint pain and alopecia.

The symptoms of stress can be broken down into three categories: physical, behavioural and cognitive. Some of these symptoms are immediate and others can develop over time.

Physical Cognitive Behavioural
Chest pain   Memory problems   Isolating yourself from
others
Rapid
heartbeat  
Poor judgement   Demotivated  
Aches and
pains  
Inability to
concentrate  
Loss of sense of a
humour  
Frequent
colds  
Brain fog Increase intake in
Alcohol,
cigarettes
and caffeine to relax  
Skin
complaints  
Starting many
tasks
but achieving
little  
Eating too much or
too little
Indigestion   Self-doubt    
High
blood
pressure  
Indecision    

What can you do to relieve stress?

Stress is not avoidable but should be manageable. There are different coping mechanisms for stress. Everyone is different so you need to find what works for you and commit to better wellbeing.

1. Identify your stressors

Identifying triggers is key because this helps to develop a coping strategy for each trigger.

2. Develop resilience

  • Prioritise your time to create a better balance in your day-to-day activities
  • Make out time to build healthy friendships and enjoy the company of friends and loved ones
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle this includes exercise, sleep, and a healthy, balanced diet.
  • Practise self-care and relaxation techniques
  • Change your perspective. Practice gratitude and know that things will get better.

3. Seek support 

This can include support services available at work, university, GP or organisations in the community and online. I have listed useful links at the end of this post.

 My Experience

Like everyone, I get stressed from time to time. Due to the busy life I live, things can get a little overwhelming.  In between working a full-time job, blogging, and my personal development, it is difficult to fully switch off from my activities.

You may read this post and think, “Vicky, you are fine you have nothing to be stressed about?”. Everyone has their threshold. The build-up of stress and tension is like a stone on a hill; It can either roll down the hill or fall off the cliff. Never feel bad about stressing out over something small or big. The most important thing is identifying your stressors and putting in place coping mechanisms.

A few months ago, I had a succession of minor illnesses ( well a reoccurring cold) because I had built up so much tension it affected me physically and I was not recovering quickly. Once I slowed down and enforced fantastic rest, ate properly, I felt like myself. It has taken me 2 months to fully recover. This just highlights the damaging effects of stress and the long road to reversing its effects.

I have learnt to recognise certain symptoms that indicate I am stressed or tense. Some of these symptoms are listed below:

Physical

Poor sleep

Exhaustion

Stomach upset

Headaches

Behavioural

Comfort eating

Mood swings

Cognitive

Forgetfulness

Feeling overwhelmed

Anxious thoughts

Do you have similar symptoms or different symptoms of stress? How do you cope with stress?  Let me know your thoughts by commenting in the comment box at the bottom of this post.

My Coping Mechanisms

I developed some coping mechanisms for stress. There is still a bit of work to be done but below are a few of my stress management tips:

1.       I have learnt to be more organised. Keeping a diary, setting alarms and using time-saving apps has helped me to keep on top of my busy schedule.

2.       I exercise about three times a week, this helps me to release negative energy and I always feel good afterwards.

3.       I try to eat healthily and not restrict myself through dieting.

4.       I have learnt to say no, you can give what you don’t have. Prioritising your time is prioritising your wellbeing.

5.       I have a dedicated self-care day in the week.

6.       I spend a lot of time speaking to family members and friends.

7.       I listen to good music and watch TV programmes on Netflix to switch off from work

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Your Experiences

I spoke to a student, a stay at home mum and a full-time engineer to gain their perspective on stress and they shared their experience and stress management tips with me. Below are a few quotes from them:

A homemaker

When I stopped working, I was busier than when I was in employment. They are days I feel like I have achieved little because the day flies by so quickly and that can stress me out. Sometimes I feel like my efforts to keep the home together are not fully appreciated and this stresses me out even more.

Coping mechanisms

I usually go for a walk, sing, or phone a friend.

What can you do to better manage your stress?

Remember that you cannot do everything perfectly. Do your bit, do your best and appreciate yourself. Give yourself a treat from time to time.

Full-time Engineer

Trying to meet deadlines and keep up with the workload can be stressful. Things change and you may not be able to deliver at the right time. On top of this, you are juggling multiple projects for different clients.

Coping mechanisms

I relax by watching football. I also make sure I leave work at a certain time. Thankfully, I cannot physically take work back with me.  My employer encourages us to speak up when the workload is too much.

What can you do to better manage your stress?

Stay calm and prioritise your activities. Identify key steps and break down big tasks. Don’t rush things because you are likely to make mistakes; This will help you work efficiently. Ask for support when needed.

Student

As an architecture student, I find meeting deadlines and coursework stressful because there is so much to do in so little time. Thankfully I only work once a week, which helps me focus on my studies.

Coping mechanisms

I watch TV shows to destress. I also travel when I can, and this gives me something to look forward to.

What can you do to better manage your stress?

Being a student is stressful, but I can manage stressful situations by managing my time much better and doing more creative things that take my mind off coursework.

To learn more about stress and for support, please click the links below.

Key links

NHS – ONE YOU

MIND UK

Young Minds

Heads up

Disclaimer

I am a health professional, but I am not a qualified medical doctor, if you are worried about any aspect of your mental and physical health please contact your local GP.

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