This year’s National Stress Awareness Day will be on the 4th of November 2015.
Everyone knows that stress is something that can affect anyone and there are a lot of causes in our busy first world society.
But how do we identify whether we are stressed? Some of the more common symptoms to watch out for can be split into four areas: psychological, emotional, physical and behavioural. The symptoms that affect you will often accumulate until you are forced to take notice of them. Below are some examples:
- Inability to concentrate or make simple decisions
- Memory lapses
- Dizziness and palpitations
- Panic attacks and nausea
- Increased reliance on alcohol, smoking, caffeine, recreational or illegal drugs
- Aggressive or angry outbursts
- Feeling nervous
It is often the behavioural symptoms that are noticed, as they are more obvious, but by this time stress has been going on for many months, maybe even a year or more. If you are worried about any symptoms that you are experiencing, make an appointment with your GP to get it checked out.
So what is stress? For many years, people have referred to the ‘flight or fight’ response as the stress response however ‘flight or fight’ is a one off reaction to a perceived challenge or pressure and as such, is a safety response, ensuring the individual is alerted to possible threats allowing them to take avoiding action.
However, continually being in this state means that the body chemicals associated with ‘flight or fight’ are constantly being stimulated and the result is imbalance, creating ill health of one type or another. This is stress.
There are many ways to help to reduce your stress levels however, and it may be there is something simple that you can do today. It has been proven that eating regular healthy meals, and going to bed early can help to improve your lifestyle and therefore reduce your stress, but below are some other ideas:
- Exercise regularly. It won’t make your stress go away, but it will keep you healthy and better equipped to cope with the issues you face.
- Effectively manage your time. The act of taking control is in itself empowering, and it's a crucial part of finding a solution that satisfies you and not someone else.
- Socialise. Stay connected with your family and friends. A good support network of colleagues, friends and family can ease your troubles and help you see things in a different way.
- Positive thinking. Look for the positives in life, and things for which you're grateful. Write down three things at the end of every day which went well or for which you're grateful.
- Acceptance. Changing a difficult situation isn't always possible. If this proves to be the case, recognise and accept things as they are and concentrate on everything that you do have control over.
For more information about stress and how to manage it, visit https://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/