Top Tips for Managing Stress

What is stress?

Stress refers to a physiological and psychological response that occurs when individuals perceive a threat, demand, or challenge that exceeds their ability to cope effectively. It is a natural and instinctive reaction that helps us deal with potential dangers or pressures in our environment. Stress can arise from various sources, including work, relationships, financial issues, health concerns, and major life changes.

Stress can be categorized into two main types: acute stress and chronic stress. Acute stress is short-term and often occurs in response to immediate challenges or pressures, such as giving a presentation or encountering a sudden danger. Once the threat subsides, the body returns to its normal state. On the other hand, chronic stress is long-term and persists over an extended period. Chronic stress can have a detrimental impact on both physical and mental health if not effectively managed.

 

What can cause stress?

Everyone is different in how they respond to stress – meaning what is stressful for one person, may not be stressful for someone else!

Stress can be caused by a wide range of factors, and what triggers stress can vary from person to person. Here are some common causes or sources of stress:

  • Major life events: Significant life changes such as moving to a new home, starting a new job, getting married, divorce, or the death of a loved one can create stress.
  • Work-related stress: High work demands, excessive workload, tight deadlines, conflicts with colleagues or superiors, lack of job security, and occupational hazards can contribute to stress.
  • Financial pressures: Financial difficulties, such as job loss, debt, or the inability to meet financial obligations, can be a significant source of stress.
  • Relationship problems: Conflicts, arguments, and problems within personal relationships, whether with a partner, family members, or friends, can lead to chronic stress.
  • Daily hassles: Everyday irritations, such as traffic jams, long commutes, overcrowded places, or dealing with technology issues, can contribute to stress levels.
  • Personal expectations: Setting excessively high standards for oneself, perfectionism, and a fear of failure can contribute to chronic stress.

 

How does stress effect your body?

Stress can have a significant impact on the body, both in the short term and over prolonged periods. Here are some ways in which stress can affect the body:

  • Physiological effects: When stressed, the body activates the “fight-or-flight” response, leading to a release of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones increase heart rate, elevate blood pressure, and boost energy levels temporarily.
  • Cardiovascular system: Chronic stress can increase the risk of cardiovascular problems. Elevated blood pressure and heart rate over time can strain the cardiovascular system.
  • Immune system: Stress can weaken the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to infections, illnesses, and slower recovery times.
  • Sleep disturbances: Stress can interfere with sleep patterns, making it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep.

 

How does stress effect your mind?

  • Anxiety: Stress can contribute to the development or exacerbation of anxiety disorders. It can lead to excessive worrying, feelings of apprehension, restlessness, and a sense of impending doom.
  • Depression: Prolonged or chronic stress can increase the risk of low mood and de-motivation.
  • Mood swings: Stress can cause mood swings, leading to rapid changes in emotions, irritability, frustration, and difficulty managing feelings effectively.
  • Racing thoughts: Stress can lead to a racing mind, with a constant stream of anxious or negative thoughts. It may be difficult to quiet the mind or find relief from intrusive thoughts and worries.
  • Social withdrawal: Stress can lead to social withdrawal and isolation. Individuals may feel overwhelmed by social interactions, have difficulty expressing themselves, or lack the energy to engage in social activities.

 

10 Tips to Manage Stress:

  1. Identify and manage stressors: Take some time to identify the specific factors or situations that contribute to your stress. Once you recognize them, explore strategies to address or minimize those stressors.

  2. Practice relaxation and mindfulness techniques: Incorporate relaxation techniques into your daily routine to help reduce stress levels. Techniques like deep breathing exercises, meditation, mindfulness, progressive muscle relaxation, or yoga can promote relaxation and calmness.

  3. Engage in regular physical activity: Regular exercise is an effective way to reduce stress and improve overall well-being. Find activities you enjoy, such as walking, jogging, dancing, or playing sports, and aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.

  4. Prioritise self-care: Take care of yourself by engaging in activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Make time for hobbies, interests, and activities that help you unwind and recharge.

  5. Maintain a healthy lifestyle: Ensure you prioritise healthy habits that support your physical and mental well-being. This includes getting adequate sleep, eating a balanced diet, limiting caffeine and alcohol intake, and staying hydrated.

  6. Practice time management: Effective time management can help reduce stress by allowing you to prioritize tasks and manage your workload more efficiently. Break larger tasks into smaller, manageable steps, set realistic deadlines, and avoid overcommitting yourself.

  7. Seek social support: Reach out to friends, family, or support groups when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Sharing your thoughts and concerns with trusted individuals can provide emotional support and different perspectives on how to manage stress.

  8. Set boundaries: Learn to say no when you feel overwhelmed or when taking on additional responsibilities would contribute to increased stress. Setting healthy boundaries helps you manage your time and energy effectively.

  9. Practice positive thinking: Cultivate a positive mindset by focusing on gratitude and reframing negative thoughts. Challenge negative self-talk and reflect on effective ways you have positively managed certain difficult situations.

  10. Seek professional help if needed: If stress becomes overwhelming or begins to significantly impact your daily life, consider seeking support from a mental health professional. They can provide guidance, tools, and strategies tailored to your specific needs to effectively manage stress.

 

 

If you are concerned about your stress, or would like some more tips on how to better manager your stress, our friendly and experienced team are here to support. Contact us on our website or give us a call on 02037336926.

Picture of Shaun Connell

Shaun Connell

Shaun is a senior Assistant Psychologist, with a breadth of experience in delivering therapeutic interventions, utilising a Dialectical and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy framework. Shaun delivers individual therapy sessions in a compassionate and non-judgemental space, focussing on building an understanding of where difficulties may lay and identifying real life skills you can incorporate every day, to support overcoming life’s mental health challenges.

Shaun has completed a BSc in Psychology, as well as several different skill-based courses, enabling him to deliver therapeutic support for mental health difficulties including anxiety, depression, ADHD, symptoms of EUPD, low self-esteem and sleep.

Having worked for many years within NHS and private settings, including inpatient hospitals, prisons and the community, Shaun has a well-rounded capability to understand, assess and create a therapeutic plan to best support your needs. Therapy with an assistant psychologist can be the perfect building blocks prior to engaging with a psychologist

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