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Stress Management

Managing Stress

Stress is an omnipresent force in our everyday lives, and it is the body’s way of responding to challenge in our environment.  It is something that is part of normal life, and is experienced by everyone from time to time because of this effective stress management skills are vital for maintainingstress management optimum health.

Stress helps us cope with life’s challenges and is a healthy reaction, However prolonged stress has the opposite effect, it can undermine our physical and mental health and Some individuals suffer from stress that is so frequent or severe that it can seriously impact their quality of life, stress-management is an important consideration when it comes to good health.

Being aware of what triggers your stress may increase your ability to either prevent stress or to handle it more effectively. Identifying stressors is a key step in this. If you frequently experience stress, take some time to consider what may set it off for you.

Possible Causes of Stress 

  • Coping with illness (personal or family-based)
  • Work-related issues or conflict e.g. bullying or harassment
  • Life changes, such as marriage, divorce, retirement
  • Juggling many roles or tasks at the same time
  • Financial problems
  • Concerns about life direction
  • Job loss/insecurity
  • Busyness/planning events, such as parties or holidays

Taking steps to cope with situations you find stressful is important so you can function and live a productive life.

The Stress Response-What is Stress?

Stressful situations trigger a physical reaction known as the “fight or flight” response, or stress response, which is the emergency reaction system of your body. The brain sends out signals to the body, the muscles tighten and to the adrenal glands release stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones help your body prepare to fight or flee to safety.Your organs are programmed to respond in certain ways to situations that are viewed as challenging or threatening, and your body responds accordingly. Eg. Your heart pounds, blood pressure rises, your breath quickens to get more oxygen into your blood, and your body releases sugars and fats into the blood for energy.

In the short term, the stress response can help you deal with a difficult situation. But prolonged stress can lead to physical damage, and may cause high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, insomnia, heartburn, increased risk of heart disease and many other health problems.

Symptoms of Stress

  • Frequent headaches
  • Irritability or moodiness
  • Muscle tension
  • Poor sleep
  • Symptoms of Anxiety
  • Upset stomach and or Changes in appetite
  • Rashes or skin breakouts
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Reduced  motivation
  • More susceptible to illness (eg. cold/flu)

Stress Management Strategies

  • Avoid unnecessary stress 
  • Accept the things you can’t change, or alter the situation
  • Adapt to the stressor–Learn what your triggers are, adjust your attitude reframe problems, and focus on the positive.
  • Make time for relaxation–Relaxing and doing activities you love can recharge your mind and body.You can achieve this with activities such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing exercises, massage, etc.these can all trigger a relaxation response, a physiological change that may lower your blood pressure, slow your heart rate, breathing rate, oxygen consumption, and stress hormones.
  • Adopt a healthy lifestyle– Exercisereleases endorphins and enhances positive feelings, eat a healthy diet, avoid caffeine, alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs, and get enough sleep.
  • Goal setting – Setting goals for yourself gives a sense of commitment, control and optimism when goals are reached.
  • Therapy and skills training –Mindfulness training, cognitive behavioural therapy, personal and interpersonal skills training, acceptance and commitment therapy, psychosocial intervention training, coping skills training, resilience training.

Related Articles

References

  1. Healthy-lifestyle. Stress-managementt in-depth stress-relief Mayo Clinic
  2. Christmann CA, Hoffmann A, Bleser G.(2017).Stress Management Apps With Regard to Emotion-Focused Coping and Behavior Change Techniques: A Content Analysis.

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