What is stress?
Stress is a natural human condition that exists to aid survival and allow us to grow and develop. A certain amount of stress aids resilience and the ability to cope with stress. However, it is important to understand what is the right amount of stress for an individual and when the stretch which develops them starts to become a strain, transforming the postitive effects of stress into a negative impact. This is when stress starts to become a problem.
Just a physically, we need to stretch, grow and develop at our own pace in a supported way, just reaching the limits of our comfort zone and pushing ourselves to exceed them gradually, if these limits are pushed too much or too quickly, strain can ocurr. Likewise, external factors can have an impact on our ability to cope with stress, so just as you may tone down physical exercise when you have a cold, if addtional stresses are building up to create a larger volume of stress or for a prolonged period, this may start to result in poor mental health.
Sources of stress
These are many and varied. Some situations which one person may find motivating, others may find stressful. For example, hosting a party or leading a group discussion. Much of today's stress is brought about from the increased pressures of the modern working environment, but other aspects of modern life are also more stressful than in years gone by. Money worries, relationship breakdown or family disharmony, sense of self and worth, health issues and bereavement are all quoted as the main causes of stress but workplace stress is very high on the list. Stress can lead to other mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety. Stress, depression and anxiety current account for nearly half of all health related absence from work, so it is important that mental health is given the same consideration as physical health issues. Poor mental health leads to poor physical health and vice versa.
The signs of stress
Just as each person is individual, the way in which stress manifests itsself in each of us can vary. Symptoms an be physical, behavioural, cognitive and emotional. Some of them include:
- Poor sleep
- Digestive and apetite problems
- Panic attacks
- Inability to learn and perform at work
- Lack of confidence
- Anger or tearfulness
- Nervousness or fidgeting
- Anger or impatience
- An inabiity to relax
Coping with stress
As well as trying to identify and reduce the specific causes of your personal stress, it is important to practice self-care to maintain good mental health and build your resilience to short bursts of stress. CCC advocates CLANGERS!
It is also important to understand and address your approach to change as a positive attitude to change can dramatically reduce your stress levels.
Relaxation techniques are also a good way to combat the signs of stress and ensure that periods of stress are interspersed with periods of lower adrenaline levels to keep your hormones at a healthy balance.
Meditation, breathing exercises, CBT techniques, yoga and guided meditation are all helpful tools to manage stress on an ongoing basis and there is a wealth of information online to support your personal management of stress. Try as many as possible to find the techniques that suit you best.
If you find that you personally are not managing your stress levels successfully and stress is starting to have a lasting impact on your ability to function in everyday life and relationships, you should seek counselling support. Simply call your nearest reception to arrange an appointment.
Peterborough - 01733 553166 Cambridge - 01223 233047