We are all prone to stress. It is a natural part of our being, one that occurs when we sense a threat or are forced to deal with pressure. While it can be motivating in small amounts, when sustained over long periods of time or occurring with significant severity, it can be become problematic, leading to a worsened quality of physical and mental health.
Recognising the symptoms of stress is a key step toward better health, allowing you to deal with emotions in a more measured way and without placing your own health or another’s at risk. Such symptoms might include:
Anger or short temper, depression, inability to relax, lack of concentration, extreme change in diet (consuming less or more), worry and anxiety, tension, lower sex drive, and nausea
Additionally, and dangerously, stress can lead people to seek out tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs, as a way of dealing with their experience.
Before even facing a situation that may prompt you to feel stressed, you should keep in mind your general wellbeing and state of mind so as to ensure that you do not try to deal with potential challenges when you are feeling sensitive or prone to becoming upset. For instance, tiredness, hunger, or being unwell, are qualities that immediately place you at a disadvantage in situations where stress is likely to occur and, therefore, make you more susceptible to symptoms.
You may notice that there are also very specific circumstances in your life which cause stress. These can be jobs or personal relationships, but they can also be less obvious and more personal, such as your sleep schedule or diet. Scrutinising your lifestyle is another key step toward reducing the potential stress in your life and you may make a difference even with a small change, such as a better diet or changing your job.
There are various activities and habits that can have a great impact on your stress levels, keeping you balanced while preventing stress from building up.
- Talk – finding someone with whom you can discuss your issues with is immensely helpful and their perspective may help you spot an obscured issue
- Exercise – engaging in physical activity has been repeatedly demonstrated to combat stress, even something as simple as taking a walk.
- Breathe – stopping yourself for a moment and breathing deeply allows you to focus and collect your thoughts, dispelling immediate frustrations
- Sleep – lacking in sleep is a recipe for stress and, for a more balanced life, regular and full sleep is essential.
- Say ‘No’ – a common denominator of stressful lives is the inability to say ‘no’. If you find yourself overwhelmed or taking on too much, decline to add more to your schedule.
How to Respond
When you do encounter a situation, it is paramount that you recognise when stress begins to take place. Noticing the signs and symptoms allows you to better gain control of your emotions and reaction. This also allows you to take a step back, either by leaving the task or environment, remedying the onset of frustration and worry. By identifying stress and its varying levels you will be able to make a better judgement about the situation and whether progressing is positive for your health.
If you find yourself unable to deal with stress or that your mental health is worsening, it is recommended that you seek professional support and potential counselling.
For those considering therapy within the Bristol area, I am available to arrange an initial assessment and can be reached either by calling 07751271709 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. More information on my professional experience, qualifications, and services can be found on the Bristol Counselling and Psychotherapy website.