Why is stress a problem?
When people are stressed, they can worry so much that they find it difficult to concentrate on other things and lose out on enjoying life. Stress can make us feel tired, miserable, bad-tempered, overwhelmed, anxious, angry and tearful. It can lead to panic attacks, insomnia, poor eating habits and depression. Stress can cause physical illnesses like headaches, asthma and eczema.
If left unmanaged, long term stress can play a part in damaging our immune systems and contribute to other illnesses including heart disease and some cancers. Stress can also affect the way we interact with those around us, such as how parents relate to their children. Unhealthy ways of coping with stress such as misusing alcohol or drugs can seem like a quick fix for stress, but often only makes our levels of stress worse by reducing our capacity to cope and think clearly.
Can I avoid stress?
A stress-free life is impossible to achieve. Stress can be triggered by many pressures including money worries, unemployment, injury, family and relationship issues, parenting, loss and bereavement. Often, stress can’t be removed from our daily lives, but sometimes we can find ways to reduce or exposure to situations that are causing stress through accessing support and thinking about basic changes to our lifestyle. By recognising the signs of stress and trying to address them early, more serious kinds of mental illnesses can be prevented from ever developing.
Am I stressed?
Symptoms you may notice include:
- Tense body
- Clenched fists
- Fast heart rate
- Clenched jaw/gritted teeth
- Feeling hot
- hanges in sleep patterns
- Increased reliance on things like coffee, nicotine, alcohol, energy drinks
You can learn ways to help manage stress better and become a more resilient individual. Healthy coping strategies can be effective when we encounter risks to our wellbeing.
Looking after yourself
- Self-compassion: “Compassion is not the soft option... acting with compassion requires us to build courage, mental and emotional strength and wisdom”
- Laughter: Surround yourself with people and places that make you feel well.
- Ground yourself:When you feel your stress increasing, take 10 slow breaths, remind yourself that the moment will pass, go outside for a moment of fresh air. Plan treats for yourself to look forward to.
- Become self-aware: Recognise the triggers for your stress, recognise your moods at different times of the day.
- Be active: Activities such as cycling, taking a walk or digging the garden can help when feeling uptight or agitated and can promote relaxation.
- Get organised and plan ahead: Take time off when you can. Strive for a home/work-life balance. Change your routines when possible.
- Avoid self-pressure and self-criticism: Challenge any unhelpful critical thoughts.
- Try not to compare yourself negatively to others: We all have individual lives, experiences and pressures to endure.
- Think positively: Remember what you’re good at, your talents, interests, your strengths and your positive experiences. Recognise and congratulate yourself for your achievements.
- Try to relax: Listen to some music. Do, watch, or read something you enjoy or go somewhere quiet.
- Remember that stress is catching: By addressing your feelings of stress, you will be improving the lives of the people around you, including your children.
Want to talk things through?
If you feel constantly stressed and are struggling to cope, then support is available. Hidden Wounds is a free and confidential service run by Help for Heroes that offers treatment and support for people wishing to learn how to manage their anger better. You can reach them by calling 0808 2020 144 (free from UK landlines) or by requesting more information from them here.Contact Hidden Wounds