Stress Management an overview

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Anupama Nair

In today’s world our life and mostly our health depends on a six-letter word – ‘STRESS’. What is stress? Stress in other words is the feeling of being overwhelmed or unable to cope with mental or emotional pressure. Different situations or life-events can cause stress. It is often triggered when we experience something new, unexpected or that threatens our sense of self, or when we feel we have little control over a situation.

Everybody deal with stress differently. Our ability to cope each situation can depend on our genetics, early life events, personality and social and economic circumstances. When we encounter stress, our body produces stress hormones that trigger a fight or flight response and activate our immune system. This helps us respond quickly to dangerous situations.

Many things that can lead to stress are – bereavement, divorce or separation, losing a job and financial problems. Work-related stress can also have a negative impact on your mental health. People affected by work-related stress lose about 24 days of work due to ill-health. Even positive life changes, such as moving to a bigger house, gaining a job promotion or going on holiday can be sources of stress. If you feel stressed in these situations you may struggle to understand why or be unwilling to share your feelings with others.

If the stress is long-term, you may notice your sleep and memory are affected, your eating habits change, or you feel less inclined to exercise. Some research also linked long-term stress to gastrointestinal conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or stomach ulcers, as well as conditions like cardiovascular disease.

Some people are more likely to experience stressful situations than others like — those who suffer from prejudice or discrimination, people with a lot of debt or financial insecurity, or people with disabilities or long-term health conditions 

If you're feeling stressed, there are some things you can try to feel less tense and overwhelmed.

Recognize when stress is a problem:

It’s always important to connect the physical and emotional signs you’re experiencing to the pressures you are faced with. Don’t ignore physical warning signs such as tense muscles, tiredness, headaches or migraines. It is necessary to think about what’s causing stress. Sort them into issues with a practical solution, things that will get better with time and things you can't do anything about. Take control by taking small steps towards the things you can improve. Make a plan to address the things that you can. This might involve setting yourself realistic expectations and prioritizing essential commitments. If you feel overwhelmed, ask for help and say no to things you can’t take on.

Think about where you can make changes:

Are you taking on too much work or responsibility? Could you hand over some things to someone else? Can you do things in a more leisurely way? You may need to prioritize things and reorganize your life so that you’re not trying to do everything at once.

Build supportive relationships:

Find close friends or family who can offer help and practical advice who can support you in managing stress. Joining a club or a course that can help to expand your social network and encourage you to do something different. Activities like volunteering can change your perspective and have a beneficial impact on your mood. 

Eat healthily:

A healthy diet can improve your mood. Getting enough nutrients, including essential vitamins and minerals and water can help your mental wellbeing.

Be aware of your smoking and drinking:

It is necessary to reduce or stop smoking and drinking if you can. They may seem to reduce tension but in reality, make problems much worse. Alcohol and caffeine can increase feelings of anxiety.

Get some exercise

Physical exercise can help manage the effects of stress by producing ‘endorphins’ that boost your mood. It can be hard to motivate yourself if you're stressed, but even a little bit of activity can make a difference. For example, you can walk for 15-20 minutes three times a week.

Take time out

Take time to relax and practice self-care, where you do positive things for yourself. For instance, you could listen to music to calm your body and mind. Striking a balance between responsibility to others and responsibility to yourself is vital in reducing stress levels.

Be mindful

Mindfulness meditation can be practiced anywhere at any time. Research has suggested it can be helpful for managing and reducing the effect of stress and anxiety.

Get some restful sleep

If you’re having difficulty sleeping or suffer from insomnia, you can try to reduce the amount of caffeine you consume and avoid too much screen time before bed. Write down a, to-do list for the next day to help you prioritize, but make sure you put it aside before you go to bed.

Be kind to yourself

Try to keep things in perspective and don't be too hard on yourself. Look for things in your life that are positive and write down things that make you feel grateful.

If you still continue to feel overwhelmed by stress, don’t be afraid to seek professional help. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It’s important to get help as soon as possible so that you can start to feel better.Talk to your doctor about how you’re feeling. They should be able to advise you on treatment and may refer you for further help. They may suggest talking therapies such as:

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), can help reduce stress by changing the ways you think about stressful situations

Brief Interpersonal Counselling, can give you the chance to talk about what causes you stress and develop coping strategies

So, always try to lead a stress less life.













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