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Understanding and Managing Stress

Posted by admin 3:26 am, 18 January 2016

Stress is something that most of us experience at times. It is often described as feeling overloaded, tense and worried or wound-up.

Due to perceived or actual stressful demands, our nervous system gets activated (flight or fight response) and releases adrenalin and cortisol hormones into the body. Our nervous system most often assists us in getting through stressful situations but when it is overactive in both intensity and longevity it can debilitate our performance and well-being.

Some of the symptoms that stress can trigger include

• Sleep disturbance, insomnia
• Tension headaches and other pain related issues
• Anxiety
• Poor frustration tolerance, irritability
• Depression
• Fatigue
• Difficulty concentrating and poorer work performance
• Low self esteem
• Medical problems including blood pressure, heart disease and immune system issues

Stress presents in different environments including work, study, relationships,/interpersonal, finances, and health. It can either be an acute presentation or chronic (long term).

Managing Stress

Stress responds to cognitive behavioural strategies and to mindfulness practice.

1. Be Aware of the triggers and factors impacting on your stress. If you can problem solve through a way to minimise these issues including with prioritisation of essentials (versus ideals) then this would be helpful.
2. Make a Schedule or set up a routine to increase predictability and to maximise your ability to find time to take care of yourself.
3. Look after Yourself. It is very difficult to successfully work through stress if you are not taking care of yourself. Eat well and try to fit in regular exercise. Sleep is also essential and has an accumulative impact. The less sleep you get the more stressed you will be.
4. Connect with Others. Seek support from those who care about you. Spend time with them and ensure that you value these relationships through maximising time with that person. It is all in the quality- not the quantity of time.
5. Challenge Negative Self-Talk. Being hard on yourself will only make you feel worse and make it more difficult to work through the stress. Be kind in your words towards yourself and encourage yourself to keep things in perspective as we often catastophise situations that aren’t quite as bad as they feel.
6. Practice mindfulness and relaxation. Maximise your down time with functional activities that make you feel better and more rested after doing it. These might include a bath, reading a book, going for a walk or swim, colouring in, mindful breathing, or gardening.