Welcome to another in the Fresh Start Monday series, where we change the narrative… today we will be talking about stress. What it is, some causes and managing stress.
Stress is a part of everyday life, therefore, in order for us to thrive in the uncertainties, we must be able to identify when we are stressed and learn ways of managing.
What is stress?
In simple terms, stress can be defined as the extent to which one feels overwhelmed or unable to cope. In more sophisticated terms stress can be described as the body’s reaction or how the body responds to change. This response can be physical, mental, emotional or all three. Our environment, our bodies or our thought life can produce stress, it is important to note that even positive changes can cause us to feel stressed.
Does stress affect us?
Yes, stress affects our bodies and our thoughts. Stress can be used positively, if we are able to channel our thoughts and energies in such a way, that the changes can be used to our advantage. However, there are times when we experience one challenge after another and it becomes difficult to cope because we get no break or relaxation between each. Though, it is a difficult task to cope with so much, we must try to, remembering to care for ourselves as priority.
Stress affects our bodies in several ways, the most common are stomach issues, increased blood pressure (which if left unchecked may cause problems with our heart), neck pain, and sometimes pain that can’t be identified. It is important that we note that stress will make any illness worse and have been linked to some of the leading causes of death such as cancers, heart disease and suicide.
Some persons have even engaged in harmful behaviours as a means of coping such as gambling, the use of drugs or alcohol and harming oneself. All hope is not lost if you are included in this group or if you know someone who is. If so, kindly seek professional assistance such as visiting a healthcare facility and reach out for some help in breaking the habit.
What are the warning signs?
Long-term stress can wear our bodies, weakening our defences. One of the most common way to identify if we are stressed is a loss of interest in things that usually interest us. Others include
- Lack of appetite or an increase for some persons
- Muscle tension in neck and shoulders
- Loss of interest in activities that were pleasurable
- Sexual challenges
- Chest pains
Tips for coping with stress
Life can be overwhelming, but we can take steps to manage these experiences so we can experience a better quality of life. Some of these include
- Keeping a positive attitude
- Set limits, say no when needed
- Eat healthy and balanced meals
- Utilize relaxation techniques
- Accept that there are things out of our control
- Make time for hobbies and interests
- Be assertive, not defensive
- Seek social support
- Reach out for help when needed, which includes the help of professionals
This list is not exhaustive, but gives the general idea in coping with stress. There is much happening in the world, which affects us… on a very personal level. Many have lost their jobs, possessions and loved-ones. We are left behind and we must learn to cope, thrive in the uncertainties and not become a statistic… thereby changing the narrative…