April has been host to Stress Awareness Month since 1992. Stress is widely used in everyday’s language to describe the body’s reaction to any change that requires an adjustment, action or response. The body react to the changes with physical, mental and emotional responses.
Surely stress is as normal as your breathing? Why is it that we rate stress in a negative light? We put ourselves through stress by putting pressure on the body, we do thing in certain way and when faced with change, we view the change negatively.
Similar to anxiety, stress can be positive in keeping you alert and ready to avoid danger. Stress is negative when you become overwhelmed with the challenges and without relief or relaxation can caused tension to stack up. Prolong stressful situation can lead to physical problems such as headaches, upset stomach, IBS, increase blood pressure, high blood pressure, chest pain, difficulty breathing, and sleep disorders. When under such stress, generally, people will turn to alcohol, tobacco, drugs, exercise, food and other addictive tendencies in order to temporary relieve their stress. Unfortunately, you are exposing your body to a different kind of problem.
Each and everyone of us has different level of stress tolerance, knowing and maintain your healthy stress level is ideal. Stress can be emotional and physical.
Symptoms of emotional stress include:-
- Becoming moody, irritated, agitated, and quick to anger.
- Feeling like you are losing control, feeling overwhelmed.
- Difficulty relaxing and quietening the mind.
- Feeling bad, anxious and lose interests in activities and others.
Symptoms of physical stress include:-
- Low or lack of energy.
- Lethargy, unable to sleep, sleep pattern is disrupted.
- Upset stomach, aches, pain, IBS and nausea.
- Chest pain, irregular heart beat, fast and racing heat beat.
- Dry throat, lump in the throat, coughing.
- Cold/hot sweat in hands, feet, and body.
- Lack of libido and sexual or physical desire.
- Prone to cold/flu and other illnesses as the body is run down.
As pressure is experienced regularly, creating many demands; you know that lots of pressure eventual lead to stress, how can you control the inevitable? How can you reduce the severity of stress? How can you prevent certain thing or someone pressing your stress button?
Recognize when you are stress is the first step – trying to keep a stress journal that consists of:-
- Establish your healthy and unhealthy stress scale (1-10 or 1-100 etc).
- The date, time, place that trigger stress.
- What were you doing, who are you with?
- How you feel (from the gut – the emotions).
- What were you thinking at the time of stress (from the head – the thoughts).
Keep your journal going for the whole of April and see the patterns of stressful event that with high rate and become aware of triggers to your stress.
Only you can take control and take hold of the stress button. Now that you are aware of your stressful situation, you can choose to change, that is if you want to change. In situation where you can change, do something different, try something new and behave in different way. Some example may include addressing to the person or situation that you are stress, temporary remove yourself safely from the situation, taking a 10 minutes breather. In situation that you cannot changes; such as being stuck in traffic or roadwork whilst running late for an appointment, you can choose to think differently about the traffic jam or roadwork – give some thought to the poor person in the accident or the poor person who is working to improve the traffic infrastructure. Perhaps relaxation and breathing techniques would be useful for you. Whatever you try, and you may have to try several ways to find the best coping strategies for you. Be kind and gentle to yourself when you are working through the different way to cope.
But if all else fail…..perhaps an intervention through counselling or hypnotherapy can help.