We all experience stress at some point in our lives; though we may not all have the same outcome, this depends on the way in which we deal with the stress.
Stress is the bodies reaction to being under pressure, frightened or threatened.
Small amounts of stress can sometimes be seen as positive! This is because in small doses, stress can push us in the right direction, helping us to get things done and focus on the things that are important to us. On the other hand, a high level of stress, or consistent stress can have a very negative effect on both your mental and physical health.
Symptoms of Stress:
– Being irritable / angry / tearful
– Feeling worried / anxious / hopeless / scared
– Finding it hard to make decisions for yourself
– Feeling overwhelmed
– Stomach problems
– Stress headaches
– Muscle pain
– Chest pain
– Acne breakouts
– Rashes / hives
Causes of Stress:
There are many different things that can contribute to feelings of stress and everyones tolerance of these things will be different.
You can feel stressed from both positive and negative life events and situations such as:
– Moving house
– Having a baby
– Getting a new job
– High workload
– Losing a job
– Being diagnosed with an illness
– Money troubles
– Relationship struggles
– Getting married
– Planning holidays
The list could go on and on!
There is a Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS), which was founded by Holmes and Rahe in 1967, which is set to help people identify life stressors.
You can find the scale here: Stress.org
Each life event listed has its own rating, in order to work out your stress level, you need to go through the list and add up all of the ratings of the events that have happened to you within the last 12-months.
At the end of the list, it tells you what your score means.
At the time that this article was written I scored 144 which is classed as a typical level of stress.
Responding to Stress:
Again, it is important to remember that we will all deal with stress in different ways. This may depend on our past experiences, our upbringing, our individual personalities and also our genetics.
Typically, when faced with a stressful situation, our bodies release adrenaline which prepares us for ‘fight or flight.’
A fight response would be to stay and face the situation, whereas a flight response would be to run or avoid the situation.
Depending on which of the factors listed previously relate to yourself, will depend on how you respond when faced with a situation that you find stressful.
Some tips to help manage stress:
- Self-Care: Being kind to yourself and allowing time to unwind and switch off every now and again can help build resilience when it comes to facing stressful situations as you will feel more calm going into the situation to begin with.
- Look after your physical health as well as your mental health.
- Talk to other people when things are starting to get too much. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help in order to lighten the load on your shoulders from time to time.
- Focusing on breathing and doing meditation can really help to ease stress.
- Leaving work at work! Switch off your work phone, log out of your work email and focus on yourself and/or your family.
- Spend as much time outdoors as you can in your spare time.
Treatments for Stress:
While there are no specific treatments for stress alone, there are various treatments for the symptoms that are caused by stress.
For example, there are a range of talking therapies if you are experiencing a lot of life changes and are struggling to adjust.
There are medications to help with sleep problems and also anti-depressants to help with depression and anxiety.
We always recommend speaking with a GP if you are feeling stressed, especially if the stress is having an impact on other areas of your life.