What is stress?
Stress is a common experience that everyone faces at some point in their life. It is our body’s natural response when we perceive a threat or challenge. Stress can help us focus, motivate us, and on an instinctual level, it tells us when we’re in danger. However, if not managed well, experiencing continued stressors can lead to anxiety and depression.
The signs of stress can affect each person differently and can include physical symptoms and changes in our behaviour. Technically speaking, being stressed out isn’t a mental health condition. However, it is essential to manage your stress before it evolves into a bigger problem.
Common stress symptoms
Stress is the body’s response to a situation that is perceived as threatening or challenging. When stress becomes overwhelming, it can lead to physical, emotional, and behavioural symptoms.
Here are some common signs that you may be stressed out:
- Physical symptoms such as headaches, muscle tension, increased heart rate, difficulty breathing, sweating
- Emotional symptoms such as feeling anxious, worried, irritable, restless
- Behavioural symptoms such as changes in sleep patterns, decreased appetite, avoiding situations
- Cognitive symptoms such as difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, negative thinking patterns
- Digestive symptoms such as stomach aches, nausea
- Feeling overwhelmed or unable to manage daily tasks
- Procrastinating, avoiding responsibilities.
Stress relief – Tips to manage stress symptoms
Prolonged exposure to stress can lead to chronic health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. It can also impact our mental health and lead to anxiety, depression, and burnout. Therefore, managing your stress symptoms is essential for maintaining good physical and mental health.
Stress Management Strategies – How to cope with stress
- Identify your stress triggers: Identify the situations or events that trigger your stress response. This can help you anticipate and prepare for stressful situations.
- Create a routine: Having a routine creates control and reduces stress. This could be as simple as setting your alarm and going for a walk in the morning or reading a book before you go to sleep.
- Think more positively: When you think about things that might happen, don’t always imagine the worst possible outcome.
- Practise acceptance: Accept that you cannot control everything in your life.
- Learn to prioritise: Take a step back, determine which tasks are most important, and focus on those first.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle: A healthy lifestyle can help you manage stress better. Eat a healthy diet, get enough sleep, and avoid unhealthy coping mechanisms such as smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
- Exercise regularly: Pick a sport or physical activity that you like and get some exercise.
- Practise relaxation techniques: Practising relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises can help you feel less stressed.
- Be kind to yourself and do something fun: Engage in activities you enjoy, such as gardening, painting, or playing music. This can help you relax and reduce stress.
- Move forward: Don’t waste your time or energy dwelling on past mistakes. Learn and move on.
- Connect with others: Spend time with people who make you happy.
- Take breaks throughout the day: Give yourself regular breaks to stretch, walk around, or simply rest your eyes. This can help you feel more refreshed and focused.
- Take time to reflect: Each day, think about what you’ve accomplished. It doesn’t matter how small it is.
- Practise gratitude: Take time each day to think about what you’re grateful for. This can help you shift your focus from negative thoughts to positive ones.
- Seek support: Talk to friends, family, or a mental health professional if you feel overwhelmed by stress.
Remember, managing stress symptoms is ongoing, and what works for one person may not work for another. Try different strategies and find what works best for you.