Stress: Understand it, control it
Although stress is not an illness in itself it has some very unpleasant symptoms that can lead to illness. If you can recognise the signs and symptoms of stress early, you can take action and protect yourself. We all have a very individual reaction to stress. What one person shrugs off, another might find extremely stressful. One of the problems is, that we all need stress, but in the right amount. A little stress gets us motivated, helps us to notice the things that need our attention in our lives. Too little stress and we feel sluggish and un-motivated. However at the other end of the scale too much pressure and our ability to cope is hampered and we begin to feel ill. So in an ideal world we would have some stress in our lives, but we would control its effects upon us.
The effects of stress are many and varied. It is common for people to have headaches that they cannot shift or they find difficulty in switching off, or in sleeping. Perhaps they find themselves more irritable and get angry easily. Relationships are put under pressure and it can lead to mental illness like depression and anxiety. Often the sufferer will turn to unhelpful methods of coping like alcohol or drugs which can actually make the situation worse.
It is true to say that stress comes both from our external and internal environments. Outside pressures might be things like being a parent, or problems at work and in the current economic climate, financial worries. The internal environment is our reaction to those, we begin to feel helpless or out of control. What checks can you do to monitor yourself?
One of the first steps must be to examine what is causing your stress. Perhaps keeping a note of what happens for a few days might help. The point of the exercise is to try to pin point what causes your stress. For example: More than my boss causes me stress, be specific I felt angry and overwhelmed when my boss gave me another report to do this morning.
The second step is to take action. For each person and situation it will be different, yet having analysed the main stressors you know which to tackle first. If it is work, perhaps talking to your boss or someone in the company may help. Remember that your employer has a duty of care and this includes your mental well-being so they have to consider how best to help. If the problems are more at home again talking to others can help. Perhaps you can change what you have to do or change the priority of what has to happen. For example: Being given half an hour to decompress when you come in from work, or making sure that you get some time to yourself. Your own GP or a counsellor can offer support, especially if you do feel everything is black, or you are not sure how you are going to sort out your life. In many ways you will know the solution that works for you.
Finally, this, is not a once only exercise, you need to keep the situation under review and monitor how the changes are working. What is causing stress and is it a problem or do you need to do something about it?
There is help out there so seize the day and manage that stress