Stress Awareness Day – My relationship with Stress
The results of the Mental Health Foundation’s 2018 study found that in the past year a staggering 74% of people have felt so stressed they have been overwhelmed or unable to cope and the world health organization have described stress as the health epidemic of the 21st Century. I don’t need to tell you that stress is bad for you as I think we all know that already, but how do we step of the hamster wheel of 21st Century life when we have so much to do. I strongly believe we are all holistic beings connected by body, mind and spirit and when we experience stress all areas of our being are affected.
In today’s busy society when there is a constant pressure on us to do more, achieve more, want more, have more. The small everyday stresses can begin to build up quickly and lead to significant stress in our lives. The missed payment, a child refusing to go to bed, another work deadline, and a busy social life. I am sure you can think of many more examples the list is endless.
How stress impacts on me….
Over the past few years I have really had to look at how I manage stress and I am now a lot more aware about how stress impacts on me personally and how to manage this in a healthier manner When I do get stressed I am initially not always consciously aware of this and it may be my body that normally lets me know that stress in affecting me. I may notice tension in my shoulder, tension headaches and on occasions rashes, heart burn and an annoying eye twitch. How does stress affect you physically?
I am also getting much better at picking up on my thought patterns which also often change when I am under stress. I have a more negative outlook on life, I worry more, I make poor decisions and may be thinking “I can’t cope” “How do I step off this hamster wheel” “I am going to get ill” “I just can’t take this anymore” What sort of things do you think when you may be feeling stressed? Do you notice a change in your thinking?
Due to these physical aspects and thought processes I can go on to experience a range of feeling from frustration, anger, anxiety, fear, sadness and just generally being irritable. What emotions do you experience when you are stressed?
All of the above then affect me by causing me to behave in different ways. I might reach for a big slice of cake or become snappy with my partner. The most difficult thing I experience is insomnia or sleep issues. Can you think about how stress makes you behave differently?
What I do to manage stress?
In the past I did not manage stress well and would often have strategies in place which probably made things more difficult but with a lot of hard work I have developed a set of healthier strategies to manage when I am feeling stressed. This may include letting people know how I am feeling, saying no to additional requests from others, spending time in nature, taking some time out on my own, journaling, exercising and practicing mindfulness.
Everyone experiences stress in different way and everyone will also need to manage stress in different ways. What does your stress management tool box look like?
On Stress awareness day take some time to think about your own relationship with stress and know that if you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed speaking to a friend, family member or professional who can listen and support you can help.