Stress means different things to different people. A situation, which is stimulating to one person, may be overwhelmingly stressful for another. Stress is a natural, human response but the degree of dis-stress is determined not just by events we experience but by how we perceive and respond to them. Whilst stress can help keep us motivated, a build up of stress can adversely affect our physical and mental well-being. The symptoms of stress include:
- Feeling anxious, irritable, tearful, angry, lonely, overwhelmed and fearful.
- Physically tired, lethargic, sweaty, breathless, tense, experiencing headaches, weight change.
- Acting irrationally, erratically (sleeping, eating), unable to manage time well, seeking ‘comfort’ habits.
Moving out of feeling stressed
Recognising that your stress level is unhealthy is an important first step. Making changes to your lifestyle can help manage stress, including ensuring you are taking care of yourself physically – incorporating healthy eating and sleeping patterns and taking exercise. Managing time effectively can reduce stress levels by setting targets that are realistic, prioritising clearly and rewarding a completed task. Challenge thinking patterns that induce stress – perhaps ‘reframe’ situations and reappraise situations. Maintain support networks and consider talking through your concerns. An effective way of managing stress is to undertake relaxation and breathing exercises (see relaxation).