Some quick tips on managing stress

Some quick tips on managing stress

By Dear Molly

It’s natural to feel a little overwhelmed every now and then. After all, life’s busy and tends to be a juggle between competing tasks that demand your attention, often at exactly the same time.

But how can you combat that feeling of stress?

Well, when the heart starts pounding, your muscles tighten and it’s hard to know where to direct your attention next, these are the top tips for combatting stress.

The stress response

There’s a very real physiology to that feeling of stress as part of a base human reaction that is designed to help you respond to a threat.

When you sense danger, real or imagined, your body begins releasing the hormone cortisol in a bid to help you become more focused, more energetic, and more alert.

In a situation of real danger, this can help save your life, giving you the acumen to respond quickly and the strength to fight off a physical threat.

It can also help you rise to a challenge, providing the edge you need to make that speech or a critical decision at work.

The trouble is, in today’s busy world where we are ‘switched on’ all the time, responding to constant phone calls, texts, deadlines and demands, the sensation of stress can become our default setting, and that has very real repercussions for our health.

Stress versus stress overload

A little stress every now and then is completely normal, after all, as we’ve mentioned above it has a purpose to serve.

It’s when stress becomes consistent and your default position that there’s a bit of a problem at play.

Signs you might be experiencing stress overload include:

  • An inability to make decisions
  • Negative thinking
  • Constant nervousness or anxiety
  • Sleeplessness
  • Moodiness
  • Memory issues

Physically, it may also present as aches and pains, chest pains, nausea and dizziness, more regular colds and flu, and also diarrhea or constipation.

The effects of stress

This is not meant to scare anyone, but the long-term effects of stress are well documented.

Constant exposure to stress impacts our immune system, and also exacerbates or leaves us more prone to issues like:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Pain of any kind
  • Sleep problems
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Digestive problems
  • Skin conditions, such as eczema
  • Heart disease
  • Weight problems
  • Reproductive issues
  • Thinking and memory problems

So how do you address the issue?

Combatting stress

Managing or combatting stress comes down to investing in the key pillars of human health: getting enough rest, embracing a healthy diet, and partaking in regular exercise.

But there are also some further strategies that can assist.

  1. Write it down – If your mind feels like it’s working through a constant to-do list, start writing down what actually needs to be achieved each day. It can help to write tomorrow’s list the afternoon prior in order to allow you to get things off your chest so you can relax in the evening.

  2. Capability versus capacity – Often we are capable of doing things but sometimes we simply do not have the capacity.

    If that’s the case, it’s time to start eliminating, delegating or offloading the things that you do not have the capacity to do at this moment in time. That may mean saying ‘no’ without guilt.

  3. Exercise – Exercise is one of the best tools in fighting stress. Not only does it help get that nervous energy put of your system, it also allows your body to produce endorphins.

    That said, pick the right time of the day to do your exercise, as vigorous exercise before bed is unlikely to help when it comes to getting that all important rest.

  4. Meditation – Meditation and relaxation allow your mind to re-set and your nervous system to calm. Prior to bed is the best time for meditation and relaxation and there’s no shortage of apps, books, videos and other useful aids on the internet to assist.

    The real art of embracing meditation and relaxation is that you should be able to draw on these practices whenever the need arises.

  5. Turn off those devices at night – Too often we work into the late night thinking it reduces the load for the following day.

    Often, it’s actually stimulating the brain making it hard to switch off, and even if you drop straight off to sleep, you may not be getting the quality of rest you need.

  6. A problem shared – If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or frequently stressed, it could be time to seek assistance, either from a good friend or a trained professional.

You can find a link to the Australian Government’s resources on handling stress, including helpful contacts here.

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