Managing Stress

Another resource from my library of paper piles, this one from when I was a student at UNISA.

I have been working really long hours lately, and know I am feeling less and less in control and able to manage….I pulled this out, and thought it would be good to share. It is not about exploring what stress is (your body releasing stress hormones such as adrenaline & cortisol), nor the detrimental health effects – there are lots of places to learn about those things, including talking to your doctor.

I know that when I read this, I was reminded that hey, maybe I’m not in a depressive cycle, maybe I’m not showing signs of early dementia, maybe I’m not developing a heart related illness. (which helped me in the moment feel less stressed too 🙂 )

I also felt hopeful, hopeful that if I focused on tackling stress in my life, maybe all these other things I am fighting would dissipate.

The key is to actually think about these things, don’t just read them. Actively think about the points, develop better self awareness, and actively put in the effort to look after yourself in even the smallest of ways.

  • KNOW THE SYMPTOMS
  • GET SUPPORT
  • ACTIVELY PRACTICE RELAXATION METHODS
  • SOCIALISE
  • EXERCISE
  • LOOK AFTER YOURSELF
  • DO WHAT YOU LOVE
  • REFLECT

SYMPTOMS

  • Mental: 

Inability to concentrate.

Memory difficulties

Forgetfulness

Negative perspective

Anxious/racing thoughts

Constant worrying

  • Emotional

Feeling detached from yourself

Fear of losing control

Fear of dying

Moodiness & short temper

Agitation or inability to relax

Feeling overwhelmed

Sense of loneliness or isolation

Feeling depressed or low

  • Physical

Getting tired easily

Sweating

Shortness of breath

Aches & pains

Headaches / high blood pressure

Diarhoea or constipation

Nausea or dizziness

Chest pain or rapid heartbeat

Stiff neck or jaw

Loss of sex drive

Frequent colds

Back pain

  • Behavioural

Restlessness/feeling on edge

Trembling or shaking

Eating disturbance: not hungry or eating excessively

Sleeping too much or too little

Isolating yourself from others

GET SUPPORT

Depending on the context of your situation, you may wish to speak to a counselor, colleagues, boss, teacher, friends or family. This may be emotional support, or physical, or task based support with workload, or responsibilities. You don’t have to be a super hero everyday. And burn out will cost you more than a little dented pride.

Learn to ask for help.

RELAX

Easier said than done. I will be pulling together more resources for you on this….but in the meantime, when you feel overwhelmed or stressed, breathing really is a thing. Take deep timed breaths, feeling your belly and chest expand and slowly release. Think also about taking a timeout from the situation – a walk, or going to sit in front of a picture you like. And stretching, slow simple stretches and even try a little yoga or meditation.

SOCIALISE

Maybe socialising is the cause of your stress? Or makes it worse? Maybe you socialise too much, and never have time to yourself?

The idea is to not allow yourself to become isolated and shut off. Socialising could mean hanging out with friends, or seeing family. It could also mean going to a drop in class with other humans.

EXERCISE

We know that exercising releases endorphins, and helps release pent-up energy, feelings and tension. I know I need to do this, but have hundreds of excuses that include gym costs, lack of exercise attire, I find running boring, I am self conscious about classes, etc.

For one good week a few months back I made myself run for 10 to 15 minutes the moment I came home, before I allowed myself to relax or eat. And it worked! I must remember to try this again…it wasn’t much, but it was something. It was enough to feel good I had done something, and that I would only get better. And, I did notice that the nights of these runs I slept better, and the days after were easier.

Another thing I try to remember to do, but have failed to do for months now, is start the day with some stretching, perhaps a sun salutation (yoga movement) for 2 minutes, or even just ten push ups or sit ups. Yes, I am that unfit that these small amounts of effort actually did something for me!

And of course walking – if you can fit a walk in every day, perhaps as part of your commute, or on your lunch break, this is hugely beneficial.

LOOK AFTER YOURSELF

Treat yourself as you would someone you love and care about. Eat balanced meals, drink enough water and get enough sleep (sleep hygiene!).

 

DO WHAT YOU LOVE

And everything in moderation 😉 Dedicate regular time to your hobbies and interests. Don’t ever put what you enjoy on the bottom end of your priorities – these are the fuel that allow you to be your best self for everything else in your life.

REFLECT

Try to catch yourself when you have knee-jerk reactions to events or make assumptions about people or situations. Use reflection to think differently about challenges.

  • what is the problem/issue you would like to resolve?
  • where are you at present? where are you stuck?
  • how are you feeling about the issue? what is influencing how you feel about the problem?
  • what are you hoping for? how do you see things changing?
  • what have you accomplished so far to help you resolve the problem?
  • what can you control about this situation?
  • how can you use what you can control towards resolving the issue?
  • what resources do you need? how can you access these?
  • who do you need for support?
  • what is your next step?
  • what do you want to focus on now?

 

As I write this I realise I am breaking the sleep hygiene rule of not using a laptop in bed, and definitely no electronics at bedtime. So with my fat headache, blurred eyes and tight neck, I wish you goodnight, and remember that tomorrow you get to do better than you did today, as do I. xx

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