This is the second part of two posts aiming to define stress, how to recognise it and what to do about it. In part one I talked about signs and symptoms and in part two I consider the importance of becoming aware of personal stress triggers and briefly explore actions which may help restore balance.
We need to be realistic and aware that life comes with many ups and downs. The most common stressful situations involve relationships with partners and family members, work situations and money issues and these affect us all. So too do major life changes such as bereavement, house moves and poor health.
Whilst many of the external stressors are outside of our control our responses to them vary and the more insight we have into our personal triggers the better equipped we will be deal with them. It may be useful to consider the following questions:
What have been the most stressful events in my life?
Which issues seem to recur?
When was the last time I was stressed?
What caused the stress?
How did I respond mentally, physically emotionally?
As we become more conscious of the things most likely to cause us stress we also tend to learn the best ways to help ourselves.
What can help?
Whatever is causing our stress, one of best ways to deal with it is to build a personal toolkit of stress busting techniques. The beauty of modern technology is that so many resources are instantly available to us. Through reading, talking to other people and trying different options we can each develop our personal prescription for better health.
Here are a few suggestions to consider:
For improved physical well being:
Choose a physical activity which appeals to you e.g walking, running, yoga, a dance class etc. This can help relieve emotional tension and rebalance stress hormones provided you don’t over do it!
Cut down on sugar, alcohol, caffeine etc as these can over stimulate stress hormones even though the immediate effect may relieve tension.
Change your environment. By going to see a friend, going out in nature, going for a meal etc. it can move the focus off the problem and help shift perspective.
See health care practitioner for advice
For improved emotional well-being
Connect with people and consider that a problem shared is a problem halved. A good support network of like minded friends, who understand your issue, can help you find solutions and reduce the sense of isolation common to stress.
Take some quality time out for yourself, even if just for a couple of hours a week, to enjoy doing something you love that connects you back to you.
An attitude of gratitude can help us focus on what is positive in our lives when whatever is causing us stress can cloud our mentality. Try writing a list of 5 things you are grateful for at the end of each day.