How to fight stress
We thought we’d touch base on what it is and tips on how to cope with it.
If you are feeling stressed, you’re not alone. We all know what it’s like to feel ‘stressed’. Coming to grips with what is causing such stress can be challenging. From wellness doctors, to wellbeing gurus, the word itself is everywhere. Everyone tells us how bad stress can be for our health. For some, this translates into a lack of sleep, poor appetite, whilst for others, it can lead to poor concentration or bad skin, no matter how many facemasks you may use. You get the idea, stress is not our friend!
With work-life balance seeming increasingly unattainable. The ability to rest properly and switch off lost. No wonder we’re all feeling it… When was the last time you saw someone just sit, taking in their surroundings and not on their phone? Look around you on the train or in the coffee shop.
Too much stress can lead to a ‘burnout’. ‘Burnouts’ are real. The World Health Organisation has classified burnout as an 'occupational phenomenon’. It’s legit, a diagnosis now. An official workplace syndrome.
Have you ever asked yourself if are you stressed? Do you even know what to look out for? Below are common symptoms for this bad boy. Everyone experiences it differently. Sometimes you know. Sometimes you just keep going and become oblivious to it. It influences you both emotionally and physically and it can affect the way you behave.
- Mood swings
- Feeling irritable or impatient
- Unable to focus on simple tasks
- Losing attention to detail
- Unable to ‘switch off’
- Becoming withdrawn
- A drastic change in appetite
- Increase in alcohol and drugs
- Headaches or migraines
- Sore muscles and limbs
- Poor immune system
Any of these seem familiar? Over 74% of people in the UK, at some point in the last year, have felt so stressed, that they’ve felt overwhelmed or unable to cope.
What is stress?
The Mental Health Organisation explains that "stress is a response to a threat in a situation, whereas anxiety is a reaction to the stress."
When your body perceives a threat, a surge of chemicals and hormones (cortisol) move throughout your body, part of our 'fight or flight response.' Releasing the same hormones as when we’re under attack. Fight the stress or run away from it. Commonly, once the response occurs, your body calms and relaxes. Sometimes, this stress response can be an appropriate or even beneficial reaction...
Bad Stress Vs Good Stress
Although too much stress can cause some pretty negative effects on your mind, body, and soul. There is such a thing as ‘good stress’. Confusing we know. There are positive outcomes from having "good stress." Ever come across the word ‘eustress?’
It’s the alternative to feeling anxious and sad, causing us to feel excited. It makes our pulse quicken and our hormones surge, without the stress of fear. It energises and motivates. It feels exciting. Need an example… starting a new job or riding a roller coaster. You get the picture. There are many triggers for good stress which keeps us feeling alive and excited about life. Which is extremely important. Ever heard anyone say ‘too little stress leads to boredom?’
Eustress = good stress = can be a good thing. Let’s continue to discuss ‘bad’ stress. That’s really what we want to fight…
Know thy enemy
Generally looking after yourself is the first port of call. Identifying what causes your stress is the biggest step on the road to helping yourself. Identify what situations are causing stress to enable you to try to create a more relaxed environment and mindset. Easier said than done, we know.
When you feel stressy behaviour creeping up on you. Write it down. Piece together that mental puzzle. Jotting it down could help identify patterns and enable you to start understanding your own stress.
Some people can become stressed when they feel unorganised, it can feel as though the world is swallowing you up and you can’t take grasp of it. Write a list. Prioritise. Add structure to your day. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t tick off all those tasks, there are only 24 hours in a day. A to-do list that is comfortably long, so you can finish tasks you ‘must-do’ within an allotted time can lead to eustress! Winning.
Say NO to more stress
You do have a friend! It's just two-letters and needs to become part of your daily vocabulary. 'NO.' Simple yet effective. It's hard for that tiny little word to come out of your mouth... Being afraid to say no can become your worst enemy. know when enough is enough. It's ok to say no and not bite off more than you chew.
Mediation in motion
Don’t hate us, but yes exercise is important! It’s been regarded as ‘meditation in motion’. Before you begin your argument, it’s been scientifically proven.
This doesn’t mean you have to run miles and miles to help keep stress at bay or become a fitness freak. Any form of exercise, from a slow walk to yoga, will act as that all-important stress reliever. You do have to mould this into your routine. Physical activity a couple of times a week, can help you begin shedding those tensions away. Amanda Rebar, health psychology researcher, explained to hero ‘Knowing that if you just go for a walk, you’re going to feel better, is much less daunting’. Don’t use that two-letter word at a natural ‘mood boost’?
Sleep, sleep and more sleep:
It’s cliché to use ‘get more sleep’ but it’s true! We know getting enough sleep can be a hard task. So many people toy with the question, how much sleep is enough? It differs from person to person, but surviving on 2 - 4 hours per night is crazy. The NHS found that most healthy adults sleep for an average of seven to nine hours a night. *shock face* It can be challenging to change your sleep routine but it’s a change that will bring benefits… try going to bed 10 minutes earlier each night as a small realistic and achievable step to getting more sleep.
We’ve touched on sleep a few times as we know sleep is vital for the body. Check out our tips on how to sleep with anxiety and our complete guide to a superb sleep. Are you falling victim to a poor pillow and mattress? Did you know a mattress can go out of date? *scrolling through mattresses and new pillows online* You know the rule of no screens before bed…
Get a bedtime routine and protect it.
Trying to organise and fit seeing everyone into your busy schedule can be more painful than fun. Then the actual socialising with friends and family can actually be the cause of stress, haha! However, seeing your friends or family provides so many benefits that help to destress your mind without even realising. Simply talking and listening to one another. A problem shared is a problem halved and all that.
Sometimes you just need to have some fun and laugh with the people you love. Daily life gets in the way. It can be easy to forget to make time for those around you, but it is so important. Next time you get invited to the pub for a pint or a cocktail at the bar say yes!
Don’t want to drink, suggest an alternative… a walk, brunch or a brew. Or simply arranging to stay in and helping your mum cook your favourite dish.
Socialising has a strong influence on our health and happiness, which in the long term alleviates the stress.
You do you:
One of the biggest stressors people find in today’s society is conforming to the pressure from the outside world. From the ‘perfect’ life on social media… Never feeling adequate in work, home life, relationships.
Be kind to yourself. Start seeing yourself as awesome. Find time for yourself. This doesn’t have to be the Instagrammable self-care of a glass of wine and a bath or yoga if it’s not for you. (You should definitely give it a go though if you haven't tried it.) Forced relaxation can actually lead to more tension… even just 10 minutes of downtime a day will reduce stress.
Maybe it’s time for a new hobby. Anything that focuses your mind onto something other than your crazy thoughts is a winner. Knitting? Wordscape? We’ll let you decide.
Treat yourself, although we harped on about the importance of healthy eating and working out, you need to keep the balance. If you fancy a slice of cake or don’t want to go to the gym, don’t! Restart the next day.
Seriously though, if you are exhausted and struggling with any of the symptoms mentioned above. Talk to your manager, take some time away from the office or consider chatting with your GP.