Stress is something that affects us all and in our everyday life, and seems impossible to avoid. A little bit of stress is completely normal and is something that we all experience. Excessive stress though, can have a huge impact on both metal and physical well-being. A staggering 75% of adults say they experience moderate to high levels of it every month!
So, what exactly is stress?
Stress is what happens when we are under too much pressure, either mentally and/or physically. It is a natural response that helps us to protect ourselves, in situations that our bodies feel that we need to react quickly in. Our ‘flight and fight’ response takes over. This can be a positive thing as it helps us to look after ourselves, and means we are more alert and able to react quickly to situations. Problems arise though, when we’re under excessive stress for a prolonged period of time.
What are the symptoms of stress?
There are a number of symptoms that result from stress, both mentally and physically. Stress affects everyone differently and can cause a wide range of symptoms, however common symptoms include:
Mental symptoms: Feeling agitated anxious, moody, overwhelmed, low self-esteem, depression and having difficulty relaxing and sleeping.
Physical symptoms: low energy, aches, pains, headaches, frequent infections, stomach issues, chest pains and palpitations.
If you recognise these symptoms in yourself, and realise you are experience stress at any time, it is important to take action to help manage your level of stress.
Seven simple ways to help quickly relieve and manage your everyday stress:
- Be mindful – this is taking time to focus on the now. Just spending as little as five or ten minutes can help to relieve stress, by giving ourselves a break from all those stressful thoughts and emotions. This can be achieved by focusing our attention on an object, taking notice of the breath or doing a short meditation.
- Take five – just taking five minutes to do something that makes you happy! Or have a nap. A nap is always good.
- Exercise – exercise causes the body to release endorphins which are happy hormones. These can help reduce pain and help you sleep better at night. It does not even have to be very strenuous exercise. Even just a little walk around the block, or a dance around the house can cause a huge positive difference.
- Relax – take time out either during the day or the end of the day to just relax. Put your feet up and watch a favourite film or have a warm bath. Find what makes you relax. This time will help to give your body a break from the stress, and help return it to a happier normal level.
- Accepting things you can’t change – this is a really difficult one but also super important. We all worry about things we cannot change and this can be hard to accept, however it also causes extra strain on us. Accepting things as they are and accepting we cannot change them means less stress.
- Laughter – is the best medicine. The crazy thing is, is that if you laugh, even a force laugh, it will trick your body into thinking you are laughing because you’re happy. This is turn releases happy hormones which will make you feel happier.
- Talking – any issues that are causing you stress can be helped, by talking to someone who is understanding. This can be a friend or family member. If it’s a long term issue then considering a counsellor can make a huge difference, and make you feel less alone.
The most important thing though is to find what works best for you. If you find one doesn’t work for you, strap it! Make your own stress busting kit that helps you, and you can tap into at any time.
“You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day – unless you’re too busy, then you should sit for an hour.” ~ Sukhraj S. Dhillon