Stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand. It can be caused by both good and bad experiences. When people feel stressed by something going on around them, their bodies react by releasing chemicals into the blood. These chemicals give people more energy and strength, which can be a good thing if their stress is caused by physical danger. But this can also be a bad thing, if their stress is in response to something emotional and there is no outlet for this extra energy and strength.
Many different things can cause stress from physical (such as fear of something dangerous) to emotional (such as a personal issue.) Identifying what may be causing you stress is often the first step in learning how to better deal with your stress. Some of the most common sources of stress are:
You may have heard the phrase “fight or flight” before. This is a common response to danger in all people and animals. When you are afraid that someone or something may physically hurt you, your body naturally responds with a burst of energy so that you will be better able to survive the dangerous situation (fight) or escape it all together (flight). This is survival stress.
Have you ever caught yourself worrying about things you can do nothing about or worrying for no reason at all? This is internal stress and it is one of the most important kinds of stress to understand and manage. Internal stress is when people make themselves stressed. This often happens when we worry about things we can’t control or put ourselves in situations we know will cause us stress. Some people become addicted to the kind of hurried, tense, lifestyle that results from being under stress. They even look for stressful situations and feel stress about things that aren’t stressful.
This is a response to things around you that cause stress, such as noise, crowding, and pressure from work or family. Identifying these environmental stresses and learning to avoid them or deal with them will help lower your stress level.
Fatigue and Overwork
This kind of stress builds up over a long time and can take a hard toll on your body. It can be caused by working too much or too hard at your job(s), school, or home. It can also be caused by not knowing how to manage your time well or how to take time out for rest and relaxation. This can be one of the hardest kinds of stress to avoid because many people feel this is out of their control.
In life there is always a solution to an issue / problem. Avoiding the situation can make it worse. Stepping back for a moment and assessing the issue can help, turning negative thoughts in positive can help manage the stress and build emotional strength, control the situation and having a good social network can help with a positive outlook.
So what can we do as individuals to try and help manage stress and our expectations. Some simple examples below can help with day to day life.
There is a solution to a problem, if you can remain passive thinking. If you think negative thoughts the stress will get worse. Feeling that you have lost control is a factor of stress and lack of wellbeing.
Exercise won’t make your stress disappear, but it will reduce some of the emotional intensity that you’re feeling, clearing your thoughts and letting you to deal with your problems more calmly.
Connect with People
Having a good network of friends, family and work colleagues can help especially with work issues talking to people outside of the box can shed a new light on a situation and help you see the issues differently. Activities and past times can help you to relax and switch off so having a good network around you is important.
Having some “me time”
We tend to work long hours, stay later at work to get the job done, start early to catch up. Work smarter not harder prioritise your work load enjoy the tasks that you are doing. There is always something that we don’t like doing as part of our work roles, look to get that piece if work completed and move onto what you enjoy. Longer hours mean we are not making time for the things that we enjoy as much. Try to make a conscious effort to put a couple of nights to one side to do the things that you enjoy. Keep these evenings consistent each week so that you know you have to leave work on time as you have plans.
Avoid unhealthy habits
Have a drink with friends can be part of what you do to unwind, however don’t rely on alcohol, smoking, unhealthy food etc. In the long run this will not solve your problems it may temporarily seem to solve the issue but it won’t make it go away.
Accept the things that you can’t change.
Changing a situation isn’t always in your control so try to put those thoughts to one side and concentrate on what you do have control over. It is easy to have negative thoughts around things out of your control, think why they are and put it into perspective. Trying to get to the root of the issue can also help you deal with it.
Set yourself different challenges, something outside of what you already do, something new.
By continuing to learn new skills you become more resilient, your knowledge grows and you will want to do more. You will meet new people and share a common interest.
Help other people
Consider some community work or volunteering, it will help with your resilience. Helping people who could be in worse situations then yourself helps you to put things into perspective, the more you can give the happier you will feel. Some of us may not have the time to volunteer so think about doing a good deed for the day it doesn’t have to be anything big but you will feel better for it.
Try to stay positive
Look for the positives in life, sometimes you don’t appreciate what you have until its gone, each day think of one thing that you have and are grateful of or something that has gone well for you.
Of course, the above will not suit everyone but may reduce the stress levels that you are feeling. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, there are several options out there.
By Nichola Kirk.