Many of us suffer from stress at certain times in our lives. Often it will be a response to a tangible trigger such as being overworked or worrying about a family member or friend. Generally when the cause of your stress is removed, i.e. work returns to more acceptable levels, or that friend or relative’s issues are resolved, your stress also dissipates.
However, many of us are under pressure constantly, living our lives in an almost permanent state of stress, and this is not good for our long-term physical or mental health. It also may mean that events that should be pleasurable can add to your stress levels, for example,
Christmas, a wedding or a pregnancy, making you feel that you can’t cope and enjoy the moment.
Could You Be Suffering From Stress?
Our mind and body are constantly sending subtle signals to each other that we’re under pressure and feeling stressed, but often we don’t recognise them, perhaps blaming other factors such as a late night or eating something that disagreed with us. However, these are the signs we should all be aware of so we can take action before they escalate.
Just as you listen to your body when you’re hungry or thirsty, listen to your body and mind when it says you’re stressed. Here are some of the physical and emotional symptoms you may experience:
- Migraines or severe headaches,
- Aches and pains,
- High blood pressure,
- Bursts of irritable agitation, short temper and annoyance,
- Out of breath,
- Tummy problems such as constipation, gas, pain, diarrhoea or heartburn,
- Feeling emotional,
- Anxious and feeling low (hopelessness).
If you recognise these symptoms, or perhaps you think a family member or friend could be suffering from stress, it’s time to take action.
Do you take care of yourself or regularly ignore signs of your stress? How do you identify your triggers that you are stressed? What causes you to get stressed and how do you deal with it? Sometimes when you feel stressed you may manage it with over the counter medication or perhaps alcohol; many people find a glass of wine at the end of a stressful day at work or looking after young children at home a welcome respite. These may work in the short-term, but they don’t address the underlying causes of stress or help you find ways to manage it long-term.
Of course removing the source of stress is one solution but not always feasible. You can’t necessarily quit your job or abandon your family! While avoiding situations that trigger severe stress attacks can buy you some time to get stronger, it may not be a tactic that’s sustainable. For example, if you avoid confrontation in a relationship because you find it stressful it won’t be helping the relationship overall, as problems do need to be aired and resolved openly. Similarly, if you avoid stressful elements of your job, you could be creating problems for your employer or colleagues and not fulfilling your contractual responsibilities.
So if you know that you need help managing your stress, or perhaps a family member or friend could do with some support, here are a few techniques that you can introduce into your daily routine.
- Try something different than you normal routine e.g. go for a walk, a new activity, exercise etc.
- Relaxation exercises are done each day will help so you can calm your mind and body and have some fun in the process. This works when you create a balance between doing things that you enjoy and that gives you a sense of accomplishment, helping you connect and bring you closer to other people too.
- Mindful breathing techniques and meditation,
- Relax with some music that you can listen to, dance to, or exercise with,
- Try grounding techniques hold an object that brings you comfort – see, smell and hear the comforting thoughts,
- Positive imagery and self-talk,
- Pamper yourself – spa days or days out with friends,
- Look after yourself – eat healthily, drink less coffee and more water, sleep well, exercise a few times a week,
- Write your SMART goals down and feel the sense of achievement when you succeed with some of them, increasing your dopamine (a neurotransmitter) levels. Also, weekly activity increases your serotonin levels making you feel calmer,
- Connect and enjoy your friendships and relationships increasing your oxytocin level (a neurotransmitter) and promoting a sense of well-being,
- When you do feel low distract yourself and do more enjoyable activities, not activities that drain your energy,
- Last, but not the least, consider whether Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) with clinical hypnotherapy could help you manage stress and cope with the mental and physical symptoms.
CBT with hypnosis looks at ways of improving your physical and mental well-being by changing the way you respond to specific triggers, breaking the cycle of negative thoughts or feelings of being overwhelmed, and providing you with the strength to address stress before it escalates.
You may also like to read How To De-Stress At Work