Stress is a growing problem in our lives today. We put our hustle on and go from one thing to the next, scrapping things together at the last minute while trying to looking pretty, eat healthy, exercise, be a partner, mum, worker, friend, an ultimate socialite, homemaker, dog walker, family feeder… and I need to take breath right there! We try to pack so much in and end up stressed. Everyone around us is stressed. I spend 8 hours, 5 days a week in an office where everyone is stressed! While some stress can be the push we need to get some things done, it is not sustainable or healthy long term! Come with me to explore this a more.
What is Stress?
What do you think stress is? Think about the phrase I’m so stressed. You are what now? We talk about it so much, so let’s define. Stress is a chemical and emotional response to situations. Stress can be an overwhelming feeling that involves worry and may make you tense.
Causes of Stress
There are so many causes of stress! And what causes stress for one personal, might be different for another. Some examples of stress causes are job situation, large changes in your personal life, financial problems, or ‘biting off more than you can chew’ all cause stress. You might find the physical environment around you hard to handle or busy, also causing stress. It is good to learn what around you makes you feel tense so you can learn to manage these things.
Am I Stressed?
Maybe you’ve been in the same state of mind for so long you don’t know whether you are stressed, depressed or normal! Think about some of these things: Do I feel tense or shaky? Do I get upset easily? Do I get irritable, nervous or worried? Do I get enough sleep or am I always tired? Do I feel overwhelmed or worried about certain tasks or situations facing me? Am I eating out of emotion? If you think any of these might apply to you, you might be stressed. It’s important to take the time out to reflect on this and build your emotional awareness so you know when you need to address your stress.
Remember, we all feel stress at certain times in life, which could be a result of a particular circumstance or task. Please know that this is normal. Some stress can be useful in pushing us to get through some tasks, however, if you start to feel overwhelmed or this goes on for a long period of time, you will want to take some action. While it isn’t the same as visiting your local GP, maybe take a quick online quiz to help think about your current situation – there are heaps out there!
Signs, Symptoms & Affects
Stress shows up in many forms. First is the physical. At the extreme end, stress has been linked to cardiovascular issues and heart disease. Stress stimulates our body to pump more blood around the body, which in the long term, causes blood pressure to rise, straining our system. Stress has also been linked to IBS, stomach cramps, digestive issues, and even eczema. How about that headache you got at work? It’s likely to be stress.
How Stress Affects your Body
Check out this TedX video to find out more about how stress affects your body:
However, other signs of stress are tiredness, colds, tense muscles, headaches, trouble with weight and eating, and issues with sleep (link). Stress also affects mental and emotional health, such as anxiety or depression and, like we already said, it can also cause you to become irritable and grouchy.
How Stress Affects your Brain
Check out this TedX video to find out more about how stress affects your brain:
Coping With Stress
This does not have to be complicated. Start simple by taking 10 deep breaths with your eyes closed, try that one out right now, how calm do you feel? Go for a walk, even if it is short, or pick another activity that you enjoy and make the time to do it. This could be exercise, getting out in nature, doing your nails done, watching a movie, having coffee with a friend, reading or giving yourself some time to be creative.
Other things that you could incorporate as daily practices are mindfulness and meditation. I love the Smiling Mind app and Mindfulness in 8 Weeks podcast. These are great ways to slow your mind and can take as little or as much time as you have in your day. Start with 5 minutes, I’m sure we all spend at least that long scrolling through Instagram or shopping online for clothes we wont buy!
Where to go for further help
Beyond Blue has great online resources if you want to have more of a read or are concerned about your stressed state. Otherwise, I’d recommend you see your GP and local counsellor as soon as you start to feel overwhelmed.
Have you noticed that one of your friends seems down, distracted or irritable? Maybe you can think about how you can give them a helping hand rather than rolling your eyes because they cant handle life too well. Invite them for a walk or coffee and chat about life’s pressure together – this would be a great way to encourage each other to stay positive and find solutions for reducing stress.