Stress is often part of everyday life and is an evolutionary development to help us deal with threats or danger. This is sometimes referred to as the flight or fight response. So in some ways, stress is here to help us. But what happens when this helpful reaction stops just happening in threatening situations and becomes a hindrance to you in the day-to-day?
How does stress affect us?
Stress can have a variety of impacts on us, physically (headaches, muscle tension or pain, dizziness, sleep problems, feeling tired all the time, eating too much or too little), mentally (racing thoughts, constant worrying. difficulty concentrating and in making decisions) and emotionally (overwhelmed, irritable and “wound up”, anxious or fearful and lacking in self-esteem). But there are ways you can reduce your stress levels yourself.
Avoid unhealthy habits
Don’t rely on drinking, smoking, or consuming caffeine as a way to deal with your stressful feelings. This is known as avoidance behavior and often men are more likely to behave this way than women. While in the short term, these activities may make you feel better, but over the long term, these crutches won’t solve your problems. While they are a temporary relief, you are not dealing with the causes of your stress, and as a result, you are just prolonging your stressful feelings and also having a further adverse effect on your overall health.
Connect with people
Creating a support network of people can ease your troubles and potentially aid you in you see things from a different perspective. These people can include colleagues, friends, and family. Laughter is a great way to relieve stress, and the activities we do with friends help us relax and have a have a good laugh. It is also helpful to talk through your feelings with someone you feel close to. They can help us find different solutions, but also it can be a significant weight off your shoulders to share your feelings with others.
Time for yourself
In our busy lives, we rarely set aside time for ourselves – for activities we enjoy or just simply for some peace and quiet. As much as we feel we don’t have the opportunity we have to take time for ourselves and things that we enjoy to do. A good technique is to use is to specifically set aside some time, maybe an evening after work or your weekends. When you earmark a time for yourself, you won’t be tempted to keep working.
The technique known as mindfulness is useful in helping to combat stressful thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness is described as knowing directly what is going on inside and outside ourselves. It helps you to reconnect with your body and all the things that it experiences. This is helpful because it can help us enjoy the world around us in a new and refreshed way. Over time it can help us identify when our thoughts are taking over, in this case, thoughts of stress, that aren’t relevant to our environment. Mindfulness is recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
So next time you feel that your stress levels are getting out of control, it might be worth trying some of these techniques in order to calm your mood. However, if you are concerned about your stress levels or other aspects of your mental health, it is important to contact your GP or health professional.