Stress is something we all encounter, often on a daily basis. Not being able to find clean socks, getting stuck in traffic and spilling our coffee can all cause our stress levels to rise, and that’s before we’ve even got to work.
A little bit of stress is actually good for us. This is when we feel excited about something, and our heart pounds, we feel a bit sweaty and our pulse rate rises. This might be when we’re feeling a little nervous excitement about a flight taking off or meeting a new potential beau for the first time. This kind of stress reminds us that we’re alive, and simply experiencing normal human behaviours.
When Stress Becomes Bad
But when stress becomes chronic, we need to be concerned. This is no longer a heart-fluttering moment, but a serious problem that can lead to serious health conditions.
Having a job you really dislike, feeling stuck in a relationship that makes you feel unhappy or constantly worrying about money can really take its toll.
Symptoms of Stress
Chronic stress causes emotional, mental and physical symptoms. Emotionally you may feel overwhelmed, tearful, anxious and irritable. You also may lack self-esteem. Mentally, you could experience constant worry and find it hard to concentrate or make decisions.
Physical symptoms of stress include tense muscles in the back, neck and shoulders, headaches and difficulty sleeping. You may also eat significantly more or less. Stress may also cause you to change your personality and habits. You may start smoking, taking drugs or drinking more alcohol.
Tackling Stress Head On
If you’re stressed, it might feel as though you can’t do anything to change. But there are things you can do that might seem trivial but could really help.
They say a problem shared is a problem halved and talking to someone about what’s making you stressed might help you see a different angle to your problem. Your family member, friend or work colleague might have a seemingly small nugget of help or advice that can make all the difference.
When you’re feeling busy and stressed, it’s easy to reach for the fast food and chocolate. But taking time to eat healthily and exercise regularly has enormous benefits for mental wellbeing and self-confidence.
Never underestimate the power of hobbies either. Going to bed having played a game of tennis, spent time with friends or finished that sewing project is incredibly satisfying and could mean that you actually sleep.
Mindfulness and breathing exercises help and there are plenty of apps with guided meditations you can download for free. If you have a willing partner, giving each other a massage using a soothing and relaxing massage oil is also great for combating stress. Slipping into a scented bath is also an indulgent, stress-busting treat, especially if you’re time poor.
Managing your time better will help you feel more on top of things. The NHS also has a list of stress busters, have a look through and see which ones might work for you. We love the sound of setting yourself challenges such as learning a new skill to help combat stress. If you could learn anything new, what would it be? Rock climbing? Speaking Spanish? How to fix things around the home?
The important thing is to be gentle with yourself – taking baby steps is key. If you feel very anxious or you feel depressed, make an appointment to speak to your GP. Psychological therapy such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or counselling could help.
Promise yourself a few minutes a day to just be alive. Step outside, take a deep breath, close your eyes and just be. Listen to the sounds around you and feel the air on your face. Remind yourself how wonderful it is to be alive as Spring awakens the world around you.
Lots of love,