What is stress and how do you can deal with it?

“Things get bad for all of us, almost continually, and what we do under the constant stress reveals who/what we are.” ― Charles Bukowski, What Matters Most is How Well You Walk Through the Fire

We all experience stress. For some, it is mild, transient and they can generally shrug off the impact. For some, it is extreme, long lasting and can have a devastating impact.

What few of us realize is the impact on ourselves, both physically and also mentally. You might not realise the nagging headache you get in the morning; your frequent inability to get to sleep at night and the constant tossing and turning as you get to sleep; being snappy or short with your family or partner, or even your decreased ability to focus and lack of productivity at work are all signs you may be suffering from stress.

Stress related statistics:

  • Forty-three percent of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress.
  • Seventy-five percent to 90% of all doctor’s office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.
  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) declared stress a hazard of the workplace.
  • Stress costs UK industry more than $3.7 billion annually in lost productivity and sick time.
  • 50% of people will have a recurrence of stress during their working lives.

What are some of the effects of stress?
Stress symptoms can affect your physical body, your thoughts and feelings, and your behavior. Being able to recognize common stress symptoms can give you a jump on managing them.

  • Physical effects include: Headaches; muscle tension or pain in your neck or back, but can be anywhere in your body; chest pains (if you get these, please seek medical attention urgently); fatigue and lethargy; a change in sex drive; stomach upsets and sleep problems.
  • Common effects of stress on your behavior include: Overeating or undereating; angry outbursts; drugs, substance or alcohol abuse; social withdrawal; or even exercising less often or more often

  • Mood effects include:– Anxiety; restlessness; lack of motivation or focus; feelings of being overwhelmed, out of control and lost; Irritability and anger; finally, sadness and finally, depression.

HELPFUL TIPS: How do you begin to deal with Stress?

There are many different ways to deal with milder levels of stress.Try to eat regularly and eat sensible food. I have taken to eating slow release porridge in the morning. It gives me energy and I don’t snack. In addition, I try to eat regular meals for lunch and also for tea. Reduce your caffeine and coffee intake to 2 cups a day. Or even drink alternatives. I drink peppermint tea. Yes, I have a cup of tea first thing in the day and one cup of coffee during the morning, but I do not have the ten or twenty cups I used to have. Avoid cola drinks as they contain caffeine and stimulants. I drink fizzy water instead.Take regular exercise, to help the body manage stress. I love going for a walk and try to walk every day.

For more serious stress issues, you might seek medical advice. You might consider  individual therapy with a therapist; a group talking therapy, where with the support of others you share your worries, concerns and work through ways to deal with it; or an alternative approaches.

One of the approaches that are being recommended by many health professionals and is recognized by NICE – The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence that recommends the use of health technologies within the NHS (such as the use of new and existing medicines, treatments and procedures) – is Mindfulness.

I will be writing a number of follow up articles to share with you how to leverage and take advantage of some of the key aspects of Mindfulness to help you deal with and possibly reduce your stress levels.

In the meantime, I leave you with the following quote.

“The mind can go either direction under stress—toward positive or toward negative: on or off. Think of it as a spectrum whose extremes are unconsciousness at the negative end and hyperconsciousness at the positive end. The way the mind will lean under stress is strongly influenced by training.” Frank Herbert, Dune