Managing Stress – what works for you??

Stress can be described as an imbalance between a persons demands and their ability to cope with those demands.  The personal demands that cause this stress are ultimately imposed by the individual, therefore stress, to an extent can be indirectly self imposed. 

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The rigours of life can be stressful and there are times when most of us feel stressed. Stress is becoming a major cause of illness and unhappiness within the UK whether these pressures come from the self, our peers or feeling unable to cope with the perceived demands put upon us. It is clear that Stress is taking its toll as surveys have shown that stress is a major contributory factor in up to 90% of all illnesses and 5 million people in the UK would describe themselves as being very or extremely stressed.

Some common triggers of stress can include lack of interest at work, time pressures, excessive working hours, relationship difficulties, insecurity of the future and money concerns.  This can result in muscle tension, increases in heart rate, cold hands and feet as blood is diverted elsewhere and increases in breathing.  All of this can be very mentally tiring which in turn can increase stress levels even more.

Prolonged stress can have long term physical damage as the body’s response to stress creates the fight or flight syndrome.  This is where your body concentrates on its perceived emergency situation and prepares itself for battle or to run by secreting adrenaline into the blood stream, halting the digestive system, hindering growth and slowing down the immune system.  This can have many effects including causing an increase in general illness levels as the immune system is frequently slowed and stomach ulcers as the digestive system is impeded to protect the stomach lining.

As a counsellor and hypnotherapist, I see a number of people who are suffering with stress or stress related symptoms.  I find it’s very important to begin to understand the individual and how they operate – this is key to ensure that any changes in lifestyle are the right changes and can have positive effects.  Often, making small changes can be the first steps to larger and long lasting change.  Self awareness also plays a significant role to be aware of how the stress became problematic to ensure we are aware of any future build ups to allow us to avoid sliding down a slippery slope.

Tips to help Manage Stress

Being aware that you may be stressed can be the first step to Managing stress. Stress symptoms include mental, social, and physical manifestations. These include exhaustion, loss of appetite, headaches, emotional outbursts (anger/crying), sleeplessness and oversleeping. Increased use of alcohol, drugs, or other compulsive behaviour are often indications. Feelings of alarm, frustration, or apathy may accompany stress. You can also: –

  • Exercise regularly as your body can fight stress better when it is fit. Exercise also produces endorphins which can raise mood and gives general feelings of wellbeing.
  • Get enough rest and Sleep.
  • Eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
  • Learn and practice relaxation techniques – email me for a free relaxation guide.
  • Accept that there are events that you cannot control.
  • Keep a positive attitude.
  • Be assertive instead of aggressive. Assert your feelings, opinions, or beliefs instead of becoming angry, defensive, or passive.
  • Talk to others – seek out social support from friends, colleagues and family.
  • Don’t rely on artificial means such as alcohol or drugs to reduce stress.
  • Learn to manage your time more effectively.
  • Set realistic goals – try not to overload yourself or add unnecessary pressure.
  • Get yourself out of the situation, whether this be leaving or taking a break.
  • Prioritise and try not to worry about the small things.
  • Look around – See if there really is something you can change or control in the situation.
  • Do something for others as this will allow you to be less conscious of yourself and your own concerns.
  • Work off stress with physical activity such as gardening, housework or exercise.
  • Be kind to yourself.
  • Seek help if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

How and why you experience stress is personal to You.  Reducing stress doesn’t mean reducing activity or not achieving your goals but rather being more effective, spending your time wisely and utilising your inner resources.

Consider the next 2 questions –

1/ How do you know you’re stressed or are becoming stressed? 

2/ How do you manage your stress?  

Please feel free to place your comments below ……

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