Stress And You: Recognizing The Signs And Battling Back
What exactly is stress?
Stress is hard to define. It’s often described as a feeling of being under pressure. You might feel like you’ve got too much to do and no time to do it. You may feel like everyone’s getting at you. It may be a case of feeling like you’re wading in sludge or chasing your tail. Stress affects your mental health, but it also triggers an emotional response. Stress can also cause physical side-effects; and stress can make like difficult. Even the simplest tasks can become infinitely more complex when you’re feeling stressed.
The most common triggers
There are many possible causes of stress. Most commonly, stress is a reaction to life events or pressures in day to day life. Work is a common trigger for stress. Approaching deadlines, long days, and the risk of unemployment can all contribute to stress. Relationships can also make life stressful. The way you interact with others can affect your emotions. If you’ve had an argument with your partner or fallen out with a close friend, this is bound to make you feel uneasy. Relationship breakdown and divorce can result in stress. Not being with somebody may not just make you feel lonely or lost, you may also start to worry about the future. Will you find somebody again? Will you end up on your own? Will you ever be able to enjoy a healthy and happy relationship?
Financial worries are a very common cause of stress. Most of us have been through a time when payday can’t some soon enough. If you’re feeling the pinch, this can cause panic. How are you going to pay your bills or afford your rent? Getting into debt can contribute to sleepless nights and constant feelings of anxiety.
Other possible causes may include moving home, changing job or planning a wedding. These may be positive changes in your life, but they can also be demanding. There’s so much to do in a short space of time, and this can trigger stress.
How to recognize the signs of stress
Stress affects us all differently. Some people thrive when they’re under pressure. Others crumble. The severity of stress also varies. Most of us usually bounce back after a period of mild stress without any real problems. Severe stress can be a totally different story.
The implications of stress are far-reaching. You may notice both physical and mental signs and symptoms. If you’re able to spot the warning signs, this may help you to cope better. If you’re prone to stress, the sooner you can identify triggers, the better.
Common physical signs of stress include disturbed sleep patterns and insomnia. You may also experience changes in appetite, and loss of concentration. Your heart rate may also increase, and you may start sweating when you feel stressed. A bout of stress can also result in headaches and dizziness. Psychological signs include feeling anxious or irritable and suffering from low self-esteem. Stress can also increase the risk of anxiety and depression.
Learning to battle back: methods that may help
Stress is something we can usually conquer if we have the right support and employ suitable coping techniques. Everyone is different, and what works for one person may not be an effective solution for another. Here are some methods and activities you may find beneficial if you start to feel stressed.
Meditation is a relaxation technique, which helps some people to overcome stress and anxiety. It helps to refocus your mind and make you feel calm and under control. Some people meditate to music while others go to guided sessions. You can meditate alone or with others. Some use crystals, others prefer to wear or hold a mala beads necklace. If you’ve never tried meditation before, it may be helpful. You can find details about local sessions or guided meditation you can do at home online.
Exercising is one of the most effective remedies for stress. Some people choose activities that are designed to relax them. But others find more intensive, aggressive sports more beneficial. Pursuits like yoga and Pilates are great if you want to feel calm and bring your anxiety levels down after a hectic day. Activities like boxing, martial arts or a hardcore gym workout may be better if you want to channel anger or burn excess energy.
It may sound obvious, but learning to manage your time can help to reduce stress. Many people get stressed when they feel like they’ve got too much going on. Planning ahead, using a diary, and sharing your workload can all help to keep stress at bay.
Creative activities encourage you to concentrate on something different. Many people also find that it’s helpful to express themselves in a different way. Painting a picture, writing a song or doing amateur dramatics can give you an outlet. These kinds of hobbies can also provide a much-needed distraction when things are getting you down at work or home.
Taking a break
Sometimes, even the most diligent and determined people need a break. Have you been working long days? Can you remember when you last had a day off? Do you spend all your time looking after others, but tend to neglect yourself? Often, when you’re run down, a break can do the power of good. Even an afternoon off can help you to rest and recover and leave you feeling refreshed. If you can, take a little longer. Go and visit friends and family or take a vacation. Go camping in the great outdoors for the weekend or enjoy a week-long beach holiday.
If stress is an issue for you, it’s time to tackle it. All of us are susceptible to stress. But there are ways of coping. Try and work out why you feel stressed, and learn to identify triggers. When you’re under pressure, take steps to nip the problem in the bud. If you’re really struggling, and nothing works, seek advice from your doctor.
Kristin McGee is a celebrity yoga and Pilates instructor in New York City. She is currently teaching yoga with Peloton. She is the star of over 100 videos, seen in several magazines and tv shows and is a spokeswoman for many brands and causes she believes in. A proud mom to three, she sure keeps herself busy!