We all experience stress in our lives, whether it is from work, family or personal problems. While everyone reacts to stress in different ways, it is important to be able to recognise the signs and manage stress in a healthy way.
What is stress?
Stress is a physical, mental or emotional reaction that occurs when we feel overwhelmed or unable to cope with a situation. While some amount of stress is normal and can be beneficial (such as helping us to meet deadlines or perform under pressure), too much stress can have negative effects on our physical and mental health.
What are the different types of stress?
There are two main types of stress: chronic (long-term) and acute (short-term). Chronic stress is caused by persistent sources of stress, such as an unhappy job or difficult home life, while acute stress is caused by short-term or one-off events, such as a presentation at work or an upcoming exam.
What are the symptoms of stress?
The physical and mental symptoms of stress vary from person to person, but can include feeling anxious, irritable or unable to concentrate; feeling run down or experiencing headaches, muscle tension or stomach problems; and turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as smoking, drinking or overeating.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to take steps to manage your stress in a healthy way. Here are five ways to do just that:
1. Identify the sources of stress in your life
The first step to managing stress is to identify the sources of stress in your life. This can be difficult, as it is often caused by a combination of factors, but it is important to try and pinpoint what is causing you to feel overwhelmed. Once you know what is causing your stress, you can start to take steps to address it.
Techniques to identify the cause of your stress;
Keep a personal stress journal for a week or two and record what situations or events trigger your stress, how you feel both physically and emotionally, and what you do in response to the stress.
Once you have identified patterns in your stress diary, try to pinpoint which situations or events are the most stressful for you and why.
2. Take a break when you feel overwhelmed
When you are feeling overwhelmed by stress, it is important to take a step back and give yourself a break. This can mean taking a few minutes out to have a cup of tea or going for a short walk. Taking some time for yourself will help you to clear your head and regain some perspective.
3. Exercise to release endorphins and improve your mood
Exercise is a great way to release endorphins, which are hormones that have mood-boosting effects. It can also help to improve your sleep, which can be negatively affected by stress. Even a moderate amount of exercise, such as a brisk walk, can make a difference.
4. Eat healthy foods to give your body the nutrients it needs
When you are stressed, it is important to eat a balanced diet and to avoid skipping meals. Eating regular, healthy meals will help to stabilise your blood sugar levels and give your body the nutrients it needs to cope with stress.
The best foods for beating stress
Foods that are high in protein and complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, nuts and seeds, can help to boost your energy levels and stabilize your mood. Research has shown that foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as oily fish and avocados, can also help to reduce anxiety and stress levels.
5. Practice deep breathing exercises to calm down
Deep breathing exercises are a simple but effective way to calm down when you are feeling stressed. When you practice deep breathing, it sends a signal to your brain that you are relaxed, which can help to reduce the physical symptoms of stress, such as muscle tension.
To perform a deep breathing exercise:
Sit or lie down in a comfortable position.
Put one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest.
Breathe in slowly through your nose, allowing your stomach to expand.
Breathe out slowly through your mouth.
Repeat this breathing pattern for a minute or two.
Deep breathing exercises can be done anywhere and at any time, so it is a good idea to practice them regularly, especially when you are feeling stressed.
Stress is a normal part of life, but it should not be something that you have to deal with on a daily basis. By implementing some or all of these stress-busting techniques into your routine, you can start to take control of your stress levels and improve your overall well being.
Asking for help to manage your stress
If you are feeling overwhelmed by stress and you find that self help techniques are not helping as much as you would like, you may want to consider seeking professional help. A therapist can help you to identify and address the underlying causes of your stress and develop a plan to manage it in a healthy way.
Seeking a private counsellor or therapist could be the best option for your psychological and emotional wellbeing. Talens Health Support Services offer online counselling with BACP registered therapists from as little as £25 per session, your first session is free so you can explore how counselling could help you without any obligation. Visit www.talenshealth.co.uk for more information or to book an appointment.
DISCLAIMER: THIS SITE DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE
The contents of this article are not intended to be a substitute for medical advice from your doctor or therapist. If you have any concerns about your mental health, you should seek professional medical advice from your doctor. Do not delay seeking medical advice, or treatment for your mental health because of information on this blog.
Talens Health Support Services is a team of BACP registered counsellors who offer confidential counselling services online. We offer a safe and supportive space to explore your feelings and find ways to improve your mental wellbeing. If you're struggling with relationship issues, anxiety, or depression, our counsellors can help. Contact us today to book your first session free.