Stress is that very thing that keeps you up all night worrying. How often do you hear people around you saying “I am so stressed”. This statement can mean so many different things to each and every one of us.
We all get stressed out, but by learning more about it will help you deal with it better. Who wouldn’t want that? Let's elaborate a bit so you can see where you fit in.
In order to handle your stress, you need to first identify where it is coming from and why it is stressing you out so much. Then you need to establish how and in which way it is affecting you. This is the first step to containing stress so that it doesn’t spill over into the rest of your life where it will begin to affect and influence everything else.
It is also very important to understand that ‘good’ stress does exist in our lives. These drive and motivate us to be better at being better, but once again you need to identify these so that you are empowered by the stress you are feeling and can get the job at hand done.
So once you have identified your stress, how do you handle it? First, you need to recognize just how vulnerable you are to stressful situations and then determine how you experience that stress.
Stress can manifest or appear in 4 different ways
Physical symptoms: these usually come in the form of headaches, stomach aches, sleep problems, hypertension, etc.
Emotional symptoms: these tend to bring on feelings of fear, anxiety, tension, anger, irritation, etc.
Behavioral symptoms: where you find yourself withdrawing from others and you start lashing out because you are feeling frustrated, irritated, etc.
Cognitive symptoms: how and what you are thinking. So this could be irrational thoughts such as “I am no good at this”, “I’m a loser”, “I can’t manage this”.
Here are some examples of how stress might be affecting you:
- A change in your eating habits. For example, overeating, undereating or even not eating at all.
- You start to use substances more and more often, eg. a glass of wine that becomes more than one and it becomes a daily thing. Or you start taking headache tablets and other meds just to cope.
- You find you are under pressure constantly, your tolerance levels are low and you want to ‘bite’ everyone’s head off.
Being stressed sure takes a toll on your performance, especially at work and with day to day activities that need attention. It can also lead you to either isolate yourself from others, or push you in the exact opposite direction where you are talking too much - almost nervously. The first signs of being overstressed might be you noticing that your relationship with others seems to be strained and there is a breakdown in communication. You might have constant headaches, indigestion, fatigue or disrupted sleep.
There are many more signs, this is just the tip of the iceberg. What is more important now is to give you a few tips on how to deal with your stress and hopefully change your reaction to it. It is in your control to do this. The way you acknowledge, approach and deal with a situation will tell you a lot about your stress tolerance levels. It can be linked back directly to your self-esteem, self-resilience and self-belief.
Firstly try not to put too many expectations on others and life in general, because disappointments lead to far more stress than you realise.
Unhealthy behavior to watch out for.
- Keep clear of negativity.
- Don’t ignore the warning signs.
- Try to find somewhere to offload.
- Limit your smoking.
- Avoid overeating / undereating.
- Procrastination is a killer.
- Becoming Irritable with others.
- Withdrawing from others.
- Not working well with money.
- Unhealthy food choices / fast food.
- Misplacing important things.
- Alcohol; this is a depressant.
- Recklessness (driving, etc).
- Don’t be complacent.
- Face your issues head-on.
- Learn to understand yourself better.
- Don’t be lazy with life.
Realisation in handling your stress.
- Stress can be about changing your lifestyle.
- Stress can be about power: we need to know we can change this. It is not isolated to anyone; we are all affected.
- Stress and self-esteem: we feel more powerful when we feel good, when we are low, we feel powerless to change what is important.
- Stress and our environment: unexpected change brings negative stress. We need to keep positive and address, suppress and respond rather than react.
- Flexibility: try this out with small things so that you can learn to adjust more frequently.
- Imagine having no stress at all? The absence of stress will certainly lead to boredom or frustration. Good stress for one person can be bad stress for another.
How to deal with stress
It's important to recognise the common causes of stress at work so that you can take steps to reduce stress levels where possible. Here are some tips:
- Make a conscious decision to change.
- Focus on your strengths.
- Keep your workload in check.
- Keep positive, practice it.
- Keep relationships in check.
- Your health is a priority.
- Proper nutrition.
- Time management.
- Clear communication.
- Deep breathing.
- Yoga, meditation.
- Learn to ask for help.
- Taking a hot bath.
- Reading a good book.
- Listening to music.
- Work on self-esteem and self-belief.
- Reach out to the right people.
- Get finances in order.
- Chore charts for yourself/family/staff.
- Have a tidy work/home space.