How to manage stress

Stress is something that can affect anyone. It’s a natural response to pressure or challenging events.

Sometimes, it can make us feel like we can’t cope or that life is too difficult.

In these uncertain times, it’s more important than ever to understand how to manage stress. So, here’s a quick guide.

What are the effects of stress?

Stress is a very natural response to tension, anxiety, trauma, or long-term pressures. When we feel worried in this way, our body releases two hormones – cortisol and adrenaline.

This is also known as the “fight, flight, or freeze” response.

Although this is a natural response, if it continues in the long-term, it can lead to physical changes in the body including tiredness, headaches, nausea, muscle tension, changes in your sex drive, or digestive problems.

It can also have emotional effects, such as:

  • Frequently feeling nervous or anxious
  • Racing thoughts
  • Being more irritable or impatient
  • Depression or feeling overwhelmed
  • Not being able to laugh or enjoy things

This can, in some cases, lead to arguments with loved ones, poor mental health, and an increased risk of abusing drugs or alcohol.

The causes of stress

Stress can affect us at any time. However, it’s more common when:

  • We’re under a lot of pressure
  • There’s uncertainty
  • We’re facing major life changes
  • We have little control over outcomes
  • Long-term responsibilities become overwhelming

Stress can be caused by a major event or problem. Or, it can be due to a  build-up or smaller problems or everyday pressure.

By identifying the root cause or triggers, you can work out how to improve the symptoms.

Tips for coping with stress

It’s important to find good coping strategies for stress so that you can be prepared and not become overwhelmed.

Here are some ideas for how you can do this:

Understand the causes

Figuring out what your stress triggers are can help you plan in advance, stay in control, and find ways you can reduce the effects.

For example, you might have stressful situations that come up on a regular basis, like a bill or appointment. Or, for one-off events like exams.

You can see these things coming, so you can begin to set out a plan.

If you have ongoing triggers like family fallouts, work problems or caring responsibilities, you can also create plans for how you can deal with this and manage the stress.

Look after your physical health

Physical and mental health are linked. This means it’s important to look after yourself physically so you don’t make your stress worse.

Make sure you eat healthily, get regular exercise, and get a good night’s sleep. This will lower your stress levels and help you feel more relaxed.

Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness and relaxation techniques can be a good way to combat stress and process difficult emotions.

Some good techniques to try out are  using breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, going for walks outside (if you can), listening to relaxing music, aromatherapy, or any other technique that makes you feel good.

Ask for help

Lastly, it’s important to remember that whatever the cause of your stress is, you don’t have to deal with it on your own.

It’s very important to ask for help and support. This can boost your confidence and help you face your challenges.

It could be your friends of family, work colleagues, or it could be joining a support group. Whoever you reach out to, it can make a huge difference to the way you feel.

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