What is stress?
Stress is the feeling of being under an abnormal amount of pressure. Stress can affect us emotionally and physically at different intensities and can be caused by a number of things whether it be an argument, worries about money or a heavy workload.
According to research, short bouts of stress can often be positive at times, keeping us alert and enhancing performance. However, excessive stress can manifest itself physically through illness and emotionally through anxiety and depression.
How do I know if I’m feeling overly stressed?
When we’re feeling stressed, our body releases hormones to prepare us for an emergency ‘flight or fight’ response (run away or engage). Heart rate increases, blood flow is reduced and stomach activity is constricted. Usually this is fleeting, however if you’re under extreme stress, the hormones remain in your body resulting in many of the symptoms listed below. Prolonged stress causes the hormones and chemicals to sustain themselves in your body putting you at risk for illnesses such as heart attacks or stroke.
If you experience any of the following signs or symptoms, please consider seeking treatment.
- Difficulty sleeping
- Change in appetite
- Muscle tension or pain
- Digestive issues
- Worry or anxiety
- Low mood
- Difficulty concentrating
- Significant mood changes
- Low self-esteem
- Racing thoughts
- Difficulty relaxing
- Irrational behavior
What can I do?
If you feel overly stressed, it is important to:
1) Understand when you experience the symptoms. Don’t ignore the warning signs.
2) Try to find out what the cause is. Are there certain times when you’re feeling this way? What is happening around you during these times?
3) Take the steps to decrease the frequency and severity of the symptoms. Can you change the situation? Can you prioritise certain activities or reorganise? Who is around to support you?
How can I prevent an overly stressful situation?
Try a few of these solutions to help relieve the signs and symptoms associated with excessive stress.
1) Exercise. Even just a walk in the fresh air can remove you from the situation and get your heart pumping.
2) Watch what you eat. Research shows that a healthy diet can positively affect our mood. Essential vitamins and minerals, and of course water, will sustain feelings of well-being.
3) Relax. This is easier said than done. It can be difficult to get away from a big wok project, shouting children, building debts. But make sure you’re making time for yourself. Turn off media and electronic devices. Don’t avoid your stressor. Just taking a break from it is helpful.
4) Meditate. Even if it’s just for 10 minutes a day. Meditation is proven to reduce the symptoms of stress, anxiety and the symptoms of (such as poor sleep and concentration). Take the time to focus.
5) Sleep. A restful night’s sleep can be the answer to many issues. Get your 7-9 hours to ensure that you’re getting the right kind of sleep. Sleep has been shown to protect the immune system, improve performance, interpersonal relationships, mood, and concentration.
6) Get social support. Speak to a friend, or send them a text. Sharing your problems with another person helps to relieve stress. Share your work stresses with a family member, share your family woes with a friendly colleague.
Do you or your child need help managing stress and anxiety? Contact us, we can help.