Many situations can cause stress. Work, financial problems, relationship issues, major life events, and upheavals such as moving house, unemployment, and bereavement — the list of potential stressors is never-ending.
A little stress can be healthy and may actually make us more alert and able to perform better in tasks such as interviews, but stress is only a positive thing if it is short-lived.
Excessive, prolonged stress can cause physical and emotional exhaustion and lead to illness.
Stress makes your body generate more of the “fight-or-flight” chemicals that are designed to prepare your body for an emergency.
In situations such as an office environment where you can’t run away or fight, the chemicals that your body has produced to protect you can’t be used up and, over time, can damage your health.
If the pressures that you face are making you feel overtired or giving you headaches, migraines, or tense muscles, don’t ignore these signals. Take some time out until you feel calmer, or try some of these tips.
- Identify the source of stress. Until you can recognise what is causing you to create and maintain stress, you will be unable to control your stress levels.
- Keep a stress journal to identify patterns and common themes.
- Learn to say no. Never take on too much — be aware of your limits and stick to them.
- Avoid those who stress you out. If there is someone in your life causing you a significant amount of stress, try to spend less time in their company.
- Communicate your concerns. Learn to express your feelings and concerns instead of keeping them bottled up if something is bothering you.
- View situations in a different way. Try to look at stressful situations in a more positive light. For example, if you’re stuck in a traffic jam, see it as an opportunity to have some alone time and listen to your favourite tunes.
- Look at the bigger picture. Think about whether the stressful situation will matter in a month’s time. Is it worth getting upset about?
- Accept the things you are unable to change. Some sources of stress, such as an illness or the death of a loved one, are unavoidable. Often, the best way to deal with stress is to try and accept things the way they are.
- Learn to forgive. We are all human and often make mistakes. Let go of anger, resentments, and negative energy by forgiving friends, family, and colleagues and moving on.
Physical activity is a significant stress reliever and releases feel-good endorphins. If you are feeling stress build up, go for a walk, take your dog out, or even put on some music and dance around the room.