“It is not your job to be everything to everyone!”
This week is Worldwide Wellbeing Week, so this we are going to look at a different Wellbeing related topic each day. Today is the turn of Stress Management, and way that you can better deal with the stresses and strains of life. We will also look at when you need to ask for help and support.
Table of contents
- You are not alone!
- The thing about stress is
- The Holmes – Rahe Life Stress Inventory
- What does Stress do to you?
- How to recognise Sneaky Stressors
- What lifestyle changes can you make to deal with stress?
- Accept the things you can’t change
- The benefits of stress management
- Some stress reducing affirmations to try
You are not alone!
Just how common are mental health issues? I ave used the UK and the USA as examples, but mental health issues are common across the globe. Sadly, in some countries they are not treated with the priority that they should be, and can be seen as a deficiency or weakness.
- 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in United Kingdom.
- 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (like anxiety and depression) in any given week in the United Kingdom
- 1 in 5 Americans will experience a mental illness in a given year.
- 1 in 25 Americans lives with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression.
The thing about stress is…
Stress comes in many different guises and can creep up on you; like when you walk into a darkened room and someone jumps out on you. One minute you cruising down life’s highway and the next you’re up against it and going nowhere fast. That’s what stress can be like.
If you spend a lot of your time feeling stressed and anxious, it becomes harder and harder to shake those feelings off and to live a relaxed life.
The Holmes-Rahe Life Stress inventory
The Holmes-Rahe Life Stress Inventory from the American Institute of Stress lists 43 different ‘Life Events’ which are known to be potential stress inducers. Below you will see an image of the Inventory and if you click on the image it will take you to a PDF that you can download and complete to check your current stress levels.
For those of you with 150 – 300 points you need to be aware of your stressors, because you (according to the Inventory) have a 50% chance of a major health breakdown in the next two years. If you in the 300+ point category then the odds raise to over 80% chance of a major breakdown, so start identifying and dealing with your stressors now. If you’re 150 or below you’re in a relatively low level of life change and less likely to have a stress induced breakdown. None of this is written in stone, but it’s useful to review your own personal stress factors.
What does stress do to you?
As stress is fundamentally an internal reaction to external situations or set of circumstances, you don’t often realise the damage that it can potentially cause to your body. When you’re under stress, the stress hormone Cortisol is released, which is responsible for your natural fight or flight response, so called because its function is to help you run away from a perceived fearful situation. However, the chances are you’re no in a position to run away from what is stressing you; and instead, this hormone release only serves to
- Cause tension in your body
- Make you feel mentally foggy
- Make you feel tired and fatigued
- Make you feel powerless
- Make you feel irritable
- Cause you to have trouble sleeping
How to recognise Sneaky Stressors
It’s not always easy to stand back and recognise that you’re stressed. It’s easy to brush it off as just one of those things, but “those things” can tend to sneak up on you as I said before. Here’s my list of Sneaky Stressors
- Family issues
- Work related problems
- or even the news!
If it isn’t nipped in the bud, stress can also lead to anxiety, depression, a compromised immune system, high blood pressure and other illnesses.
What lifestyle changes can you make to deal with stress?
There are lots of ways that you can combat stress and the first one is taking time for yourself. I’m not saying that it is always the case, but stress often occurs when you don’t prioritise yourself and give yourself permission to have YOU time.
- Connect socially; even if you might not feel like it send that WhatsApp or make that call to a friend for a catch up
- Find yourself some talking therapy support. Your GP will be able to help with this or charities such as Mind and the NHS in the UK. In the USA the National Alliance on Mental Health or Mental Health America
- Take good care of yourself – eat healthy meals, take exercise, drink plenty of fluids, sleep well, cut down on alcohol and caffeine.
- Treat yourself – get your nails done or have a massage.
- Start a meditation practice. There are plenty of guided meditation videos on YouTube – my favourite is Jason Stephenson.
- Start writing a Stress Journal to get down on paper the things that are bothering you. By identifying what your personal stressors are, you will be in a better place to deal with them.
Accept the things you can’t change
This statement is probably easier to say than to do, because there are always going to be unavoidable stresses. However, you can still learn to react in a more calm and relaxed manner.
- You cannot control the uncontrollable, so quit trying right there. There are always going to be things that are beyond your control, and you must start to learn to accept that.
- Always try and look for the silver lining in any tough situation. Even if it’s just a tiny positive; it’s always better than a negative!
- Similarly, don’t beat yourself up if you make a mistake. We are all human, and making mistakes is part of growing and developing.
- Let go of resentment and anger, and learn to forgive yourself and others.
The benefits of stress management
Getting your stress under control is key; and hopefully some of the advice I have provided will help you with that. Once you do get your stress under control hopefully you will see some of the following benefits, along with others.
- Increased motivation
- Lower irritability
- Lower blood pressure
- Relaxed mind and body
- Boost to your immune system
Some stress reducing affirmations to try once you’re on top of your stress;
“I love my life.”
“I am living my life stress free and relaxed.”
“My life is full of limitless possibilities.“
“Every day, in every way, my life gets better and better.”
This post is not meant to replace medical advice. Always seek medical advice or consult your GP if you are feeling unwell, both physically or mentally.