What is stress?
We’ve all heard the word ‘stress’ and a lot of people use it in everyday vocabulary. Some people think they’re not stressed but are used to hiding it, while others frequently feel high levels of stress and are aware of it.
Stress can show in many different ways in people: some may show stress as anger, an actual physical health complaint, irritability, depression, anxiety; some people may be patient but suddenly snap at their loved ones, while others may feel exhausted from managing the stress and find they don’t want to do anything – the list is endless.
Short term stress can be useful as it helps us to get things done, but it becomes a problem when it is long term or chronic. This is when it can affect our health and well-being.
Think you or someone may be stressed?
Some possible signs are:
- An increase in alcohol intake
- Increased anger
- A lack of motivation when relaxing
- Changes in eating patterns
- Increased frustration
- An increased use of stimulants
It’s important to take responsibility in helping your stress levels and finding something that works for you. One person may find it easy to make small changes, while another person may need some help from friends and family to gain motivation.
Need ideas on how to manage stress?
- Regular exercise can be useful – some people prefer a team sport while others prefer activities such as walking the dog, yoga, swimming, running, tai chi. It doesn’t matter which one you choose, as long as it’s one you enjoy and can do.
- Looking at what you eat and trying to eat healthily can help to reduce cravings and energy slumps
- Doing something creative can help to forget about the stress. Over the last few years there has been an increase in adult colouring books, and I’ve even seen an adult dot-to-dot!
- Increased contact with friends and family can help relaxation. Being able to talk and share concerns or taking time to chat about general things and spending time with loved ones may help.
- Laughing – adults often laugh less than children, we can encourage those good feelings with activities such as watching a good comedy, spending time with friends, or going to a laughing yoga class
- Meditation or deep breathing. Mindfulness is a bit of a buzz word at the moment, but it’s about encouraging people to stay focused on the moment and reduce the mental chatter that can often become raised with stress.
- Reducing stimulants such as coffee, cola, smoking, recreational drugs, alcohol, tea and energy drinks can help to avoid the unnatural energy highs and slumps
- Have a complementary therapy, as it allows for personal time and relaxation. Some people who are very stressed are often unaware about how to relax and even just relaxing a little can seem strange. It’s something that the more you do the more you become accustomed to. It creates a new cycle where you can then relax more – I remember my first therapy session found me relaxing very little and it has been something I have had to learn.
Be aware of your stress levels and don’t allow them to build to problematic levels – look to take steps to stay in control, rather than letting stress control you.
Some people may find one technique a great way to help manage their stress levels, while someone else may need a combination of techniques, and someone else may find they need to use different tools for different occasions. There’s no right or wrong approach and it’s worth experimenting depending on the circumstances and your needs. If you find the techniques don’t work or the stress is unmanageable, it’s important you seek professional help. This may be visiting your GP for further advice or booking a counsellor who can provide additional support.
Louise is an holistic therapist who owns Therapy Centre, Bristol BS14 9HB, a clinic offering a range of holistic and beauty therapies. Louise offers reflexology, aromatherapy, aromatology, holistic massage, Indian head massage, reiki, baby massage and story massage. She is a mum of two boys and when she is not working she enjoys getting outdoors with her family. For further information about Louise you can visit her website louise-morgan.co.uk