Stress

Stress is a feeling you have when you face a situation you think you cannot manage. You can feel anxious, irritable, forgetful, sleepless and unable to cope. There are many different ways to deal with stress, once you understand the causes. A regular daily routine that includes a nutritious diet, exercise and regular sleep also help.

 

Effects of stress

Stress affects us in many ways, including:

  • Emotionally – anxiety, depression, tension, anger
  • The way we think – poor concentration, forgetfulness, indecisiveness, apathy, hopelessness
  • Behaviourally – increased drinking and smoking, insomnia, accident proneness, weight problems, obsessive-compulsive behaviour, nervousness, gambling.

Your response to stress

Your attitude, personality and approach to life will influence how you respond to stress. Factors that play a part include:

  • How you think about a problem
  • How anxious you feel generally
  • How severely the problem affects you
  • Whether you have experienced anything like this before
  • Whether you can control what is happening
  • How long the event affects you
  • How important the outcome is to you
  • The different ways a person copes with difficult situations
  • Your life experiences and life history
  • Your self-esteem
  • Whether you have people around who can provide support.
     

Management of stress

The old adage ‘prevention is better than cure’ is certainly true for stress management. It will help if you:

  • Exercise regularly – regular exercise is a great way to manage stress. You should do some form of exercise that causes you to feel puffed afterwards – a leisurely stroll to the bus stop is not enough! Have at least 20 minutes of exercise three times a week
  • Avoid conflict – avoid situations that make you feel stressed such as unnecessary arguments and conflict (although ignoring a problem is not always the best way to reduce stress). Assertiveness is fine but becoming distressed is not
  • Relax – give yourself some time to relax each day and try to spend time with people who make you feel good about yourself
  • Eat well – a nutritious diet is important. Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and avoid sweet and fatty foods
  • Sleep – a good sleep routine is essential. If you have difficulty falling asleep, do something calm and relaxing before you go to bed like listening to music or reading
  • Enjoy your life – it’s important to make time to have some fun and to get a balance in your life.

 

To deal with stress more effectively, it helps to investigate your stresses and how you react to them. Try to:

  • Understand what situations make you feel stressed
  • Understand what situations you can and can’t control
  • Prepare for stressful events in advance, by thinking about the future
  • Keep yourself healthy with good nutrition, exercise and regular relaxation
  • Try to do happy things every day.