Stress is the feeling we get when we allow ourselves or someone else to put us under pressure or in an uncomfortable situation.
Short bursts of stress can be helpful to us and enable us to act quickly, perform well or step out of our comfort zone which has long term positive effects on resilience, self worth and confidence.
When we get stressed out, our body releases hormones such as adrenaline, cortisol and vasopressin. These hormones help us to survive short stressful events by altering our bodily functions to enable us to deal with the emergency situation but when the stress continues, they can have a harmful effect on the body and cause insomnia, heart disease a suppressed immune system and weight gain.
Behaviourally we can become angry, impatient, emotional and exhausted and this can impact on our relationships, jobs and our interactions with our communities.
So, how do we reduce the stress in our lives?
1.Become Mindful. By being aware of how we are feeling we can detect early signs of worry, pressure or overwhelm and because we are aware, can deal with the situation swiftly.
2.Create space to find calm. This can include meditation, exercise, breathwork, connecting with nature or any activity that we find relaxing. This helps us to quieten the thoughts produced by our brain that are pitting us under pressure.
3. Set boundaries. No-one can work or nurture efficiently if they are not taking care of themselves. If your workload is overwhelming and you cannot find a way to be more efficient or delegate then be proactive and talk to management. They have a responsibility to help you to protect your wellbeing. If it's family or friends that are causing your stress then clear communication, shared expectations and compromise are likely to be your best friends in this situation.
4. Journaling or talking to a good listener. Quite often once we have written down the thoughts in our head or have talked them through with someone, the stop having so much power over us and we can see solutions that were not previously clear to us. We have given ourselves a safe environment to off load and become present. When we are present, it is impossible to experience a negative emotion.
5. Making changes. Once we have become aware of the stressors in our lives whether that be our own thoughts, work, family, friends or societal expectations, we can look at how we can change things to reduce or ideally prevent us from suffering from prolonged stress and being stressed out. This can involve delegating, changing jobs, making more time for family and friends and to relax and obtaining professional help to overcome unhelpful beliefs and behaviours.
Try using these tips over the next week and see how they improve your wellbeing and relationships.
If you would like help with managing your stressors then please get in touch.