Stress is a common feature in all our lives and affects different people in many ways. Everyone has a different method of dealing with it which determines whether it becomes a negative or positive force in your life. Often seen as a negative emotion, stress can play an important role in our survival. It helps us get motivated and can even make us perform better; it also helps us to face threats and dangerous situations.
Stress tends to be reported as one of the top three of self-reported work-related illnesses in the world. According to a Labour Force Survey for 2019/2020 there were 828,000 workers suffering from work-related stress, depression, or anxiety with 17.9 million working days lost in Great Britain. Imagine what those numbers look like in Europe and the USA or globally? The cost to the world economy runs into billions.
What is stress?
In essence stress is an imbalance between the demands put on you and your ability to cope with them. Pressure can come from all sorts of places, from moving house to money worries to relationship problems but in most cases the biggest perpetrator is work.
“If you ask what the single most important key to longevity is, I will have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension. And if you didn’t ask me, I’d still have to say it.”
So, what’s going on in your body when you get stressed? Recognising a threat, your brain starts to release hormones. Your body responds by increasing the amount of oxygen and nutrients to your muscles, heart, and brain. This ensures that you are primed to think and act quickly. It’s called the “fight or flight” response; your body is ready to fight off the threat or run away from it. Once the emergency is over, your body returns to a state of calm.
Short bursts of stress every now and again will not do you any real harm. However, if it’s prolonged or you have frequent bouts, your body will find it more difficult to recover quickly. This can lead to chronic stress.
Mentally, you may:
- Feel anxious
- Depressed or apathetic
- Have mood swings
- Feel tired
- Find it difficult to concentrate
- Lose interest in sex
Physically, you may:
- Get aches and pains in your muscles
- Get headaches
- Feel sick
- Have heart palpitations (feeling your heart thumping in your chest)
Any medical conditions you already have (such as eczema or asthma), may get worse as well. However, be careful and aware as chronic stress can lead to serious health problems like high blood pressure, coronary heart disease and reduced immunity. The best way to deal with stress is to get back in control of your life.
Steps to help reduce stress
So, the most important thing you can do daily is to take steps to address the stress in your life but don’t forget to think about your partner, children, friends, and the extended family. Help recognise the signs, help yourself and help them. Below I have listed some key steps to deal with stress.
- Limit distractions
- Eating a well-balanced diet
- Regular exercise
- Learn to say no
- Delegate or share responsibilities
- Be more organised
- Pen and pad and get it out of your head
- Eliminate interruptions
- Allow yourself quiet time and space
- Go for a walk
- Listen to music
- Talk to a good friend
- Learn to relax
- Take up yoga
- Practice mindfulness
If need be, consult your GP and they will give you valuable support and advice.
“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”
Whilst the body can deal with short bursts of stress every now and then, pay attention and make sure you don’t over-do it. Use the positive aspects of stress to help motivate your life and listen to those miraculous gut feelings.
Needing to explore how you can improve upon your stress levels, then book in a Genius Zone Consult to discover what your current challenges are and explore how I can support you in solving those challenges.
Lastly, ask yourself what will you do to reduce your current stress today?