Stress is a word that appears all too frequently in most of the conversations we have or the articles we read. Today, it’s no secret that stress is something that affects all of us to some degree at some point in our lives. Stress is difficult to define, and it can affect some people in a very different way to others. Often, we can shake it off without too much trouble, but sometimes, it can become difficult to manage. If stress is keeping you awake at night, here are some tips to help you fight back.
Understanding the cause
If you feel stressed, there’s usually a reason. Why are you feeling the way you do? Is there is a single cause, or it is a combination of factors? Have little things snowballed out of control or are you worried about one thing in particular? If you can understand the cause of stress, it’s often much easier to move forward and find a solution.
There are endless possibilities when it comes to the causes of stress, and some people may experience stress for completely different reasons to others. The most common causes of stress include money worries, relationship problems, pressure at work, illness, and life events, such as divorce, being made redundant or bereavement. Often, we also suffer from stress as a result of not having enough time to do what needs to be done. Sometimes, it’s also possible to suffer from stress as a result of events that haven’t actually happened. Watching reports on the news, for example, can make people panicked about what may happen in the future.
If you’re struggling to think clearly, write down everything that is worrying you or making you feel uneasy or speak to a friend or a therapist about what’s on your mind. Often, it can be refreshing and cathartic to get things off your chest, and it’ll also give you a better idea of what’s troubling you or getting you down.
Spotting the signs
Stress affects people in various ways. Some people actually thrive on pressure, especially in a work scenario. However, others are more likely to crumble. Mild stress is usually nothing to be too worried about, but if you don’t get a handle on it, it can become more severe. Stress can contribute to both physical and psychological symptoms. Many people find it hard to sleep when they’re stressed, and stress can increase the risk of depression and anxiety. If you’re stressed, you may also experience signs like headaches, changes in your appetite and weight, high blood pressure, inability to relax, and loss of concentration. When you’re stressed, levels of hormones, including cortisol, increase. Cortisol is the hormone that is released when your body goes into fight or flight mode.
Sometimes, it can be hard to spot the signs of stress yourself, but other people around you may notice a difference in your mood and your general health and wellbeing.
Finding solutions and fighting back
Once you’ve identified possible causes, work on finding solutions. Are you worried about getting through piles of jobs at work? Are you struggling to keep up with your mortgage payments? Are you arguing with your partner all the time? Do you never seem to have enough time to actually sit back and take note of what’s happened over the past day, week or month?
Finding a suitable solution will help to alleviate anxiety, and often, the key to moving forward lies in asking for help. If you’ve got money worries, for example, seeing a financial adviser can give you a much clearer picture of what’s going on, and help you to find ways of improving your financial situation. If you’re struggling to live with your partner, but you’re stressed about what will happen if you break up, spending time with family lawyers can provide you with answers to your questions and give you the information you need to make a decision about your future. If you can’t remember the last time you left the office on time and you’ve still got mountains of work to get through, speak to your boss, and let them know that things are getting on top of you. They may suggest that others take on some of the workload or give you more time to complete tasks. If you can’t seem to cope with life after losing a loved one, seeing a counsellor could help you to start the grieving process and provide you with the support you need to pull through.
Often, time, or more accurately, a lack of time, is a contributor to stress. Perhaps you’ve got too much to do at work, or the kids are running you ragged, and you’re struggling to run a home, look after your children and take care of other family members. Life can become very hectic, and sometimes, it’s hard to cope. Improving your time management skills could go a long way to reducing your stress levels in the future. Use a diary or a calendar to plan each day, make sure you get enough sleep, and try and be as efficient as possible. When you get up, tackle the most demanding tasks first. It’s also really beneficial to learn to say no. Often, saying yes to everyone can put us under too much pressure. If you can’t take on extra work or do overtime or you can’t babysit for a friend or take another child to after school club, say no. You don’t have to feel guilty. You’re not superhuman, and it’s not possible to be in two different places at the same time.
Managing stress: techniques you can try
The key to preventing severe stress often lies in the ability to detect signs of minor stress and address them. We all suffer from stress, but some people cope a lot better than others. If you don’t already use stress management techniques, you may find that they have a dramatic impact on your health and happiness. Some examples of effective remedies include:
People have been meditating for centuries. Meditation is an ancient practice, which is designed to calm you down and clear your mind. It transports you to a place where you feel happy and safe, and it can really help you to refocus and relax if you’re having a bad day or you’ve got too much going on. You can attend meditation classes, listen to a guided meditation online or just go through some breathing exercises on your own. You don’t need to spend hours meditating or be perched on a cliff edge to reap the benefits. You can meditate anywhere, and if you’ve got only five minutes to spare, you should still find that it helps.
Exercise is one of the best self-help techniques out there. Not only does working out make you feel better due to the release of happy hormones known as endorphins, but it also gives you a distraction. If you’ve been cooped up in the office for hours, there’s nothing better than putting some music on and going for a run or a bike ride in the open air. If you haven’t had a minute to yourself all day, a 20-minute dance, yoga or HIIT class gives you an opportunity to let off some steam and enjoy some ‘me time.’ Exercise can also help you express yourself and provide a release if you’re struggling to cope with your emotions. If you’re angry, for example, going to a boxing or kickboxing class can offer a constructive way to process and manage those emotions.
Creative activities can be fun, but they also encourage you to express yourself. If you don’t find it easy to talk to others or put how you’re feeling into words, painting, drawing, writing or playing music could help you open up. You don’t have to be super-talented to try out creative activities. Nobody has to see or hear what you’re doing if you don’t want them to. Just find something you enjoy, and relax. Sometimes, it’s useful to spend a bit of time alone, clear your mind, and pour your energy into something different to work, helping friends or looking after the kids.
Is stress keeping you awake at night? Can you never seem to switch off or do you feel like life is flying by, and you’re not really in control of what’s going on? It’s very common to experience stress, and it’s important to spot the signs and learn to manage stress before it takes over your life. If you are stressed, and you can’t seem to just shake it off like you would normally, try and think about what’s troubling you. If you can’t speak to somebody, write it down. Once you have a better insight into the possible causes, you can try and figure out how to get around these problems. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and lean on those closest to you. Learn to say no, and don’t fight stress alone. Try some self-help coping mechanisms, such as meditation and exercise, and don’t hesitate to seek advice if you feel like your symptoms are becoming more severe.
Article from A Baker