What is stress?
Stress is generally associated with the changes and challenges that are part of life, although sometimes there is no obvious cause. Stress may be triggered by situations or events that put pressure on us – for example, times when we have lots to do and think about, or do not have much control over what happens. The most common situations that cause stress involve work, education, peer pressure, financial matters, family relationships, physical illness or major life events such as divorce, unemployment and bereavement.
“life’s stressful moments might have pushed him more towards poor mental health…”
Completely removing stress from life is unrealistic. Some stress can be positive and assist a person to be more alert, energized and motivated about achieving tasks both within work and in social life. When we feel stressed, our bodies release hormones called cortisol and adrenaline; chemical reactions which respond to a threat and keep us safe. However, if we are under stress regularly or for a prolonged period, we are likely to be producing high levels of these hormones, which can lead to physical and emotional exhaustion and illness.
Physical: headaches, nausea or indigestion, lack of energy, faster breathing, increased perspiration, palpitations and/or muscle aches and pains.
Emotional: Frequent changes in mood, feeling constantly under pressure or overwhelmed and feelings including worry, fear, anger, frustration and sadness.
Behavioral: Becoming withdrawn or indecisive, finding it hard to relax or concentrate changes to sleep patterns, being irritable or tearful and/or verbal or physical aggression.
11 Tips to Take Care of Your Mind, including getting enough sleep, exercise and a healthy diet help stay emotionally healthy and happy
Setting priorities and manage time well
Identifying the source of your stress and, if possible, avoiding or removing it
Planning major changes in life, such as moving house or changing jobs, to a time when we feel well and do not have too many other commitments
Learn how to share our feelings so that we can resolve personal conflicts as they come up, as ongoing stress in personal relationships may contribute to symptoms of
Take control of our personal commitments by avoiding long working hours and other responsibilities. This can be difficult, but small changes can make a difference
Knowing our own limits so we do not overload ourselves with tasks, new commitments or responsibilities. Learn to say 'no' so we do not become overwhelmed by our commitments
“I tried to ignore my symptoms, but when they made me very stressed, I couldn't bear them anymore.”
3. Learn tools to de-stress, especially during challenging times
Having fun and doing pleasurable things that we enjoy on a regular basis
Spending time socializing with family and friends
Stress management techniques, mindfulness, relaxation and spiritual practice can be beneficial for coping with difficult situations and maintaining a positive outlook.
Learn some techniques
Taking a 5-minute break and focus on some deep breathing helps eliminate the effects of stress by slowing the heart rate and lowering blood pressure
Talking to a friend, family member, health professional, spiritual leader or someone else we trust can help to relieve stress
Seeking professional help if stress is overwhelming and prolonged, or if stress management tips are not reducing stress levels. Talking to a counsellor or psychologist can help find ways to resolve personal stresses and problems.
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