Artius' Tips for Managing stress

What is stress?

Generally speaking, stress can be defined as feeling overwhelmed, worried, or run down. However, it can also be defined as an uncomfortable emotional experience accompanied by predictable biochemical, physiological and behavioural changes. These changes can include feeling tense, wound up, and irritable. Stress can also affect us in ways that aren’t so immediately obvious. For instance, you may experience sleep difficulties, back and neck pain, headaches, an upset stomach, increased blood pressure, changes in appetite, and chest pains. Whilst stress is normally seen as a bad thing, it served an important function for our ancestors who utilised the stress response as means of adapting to constant threats from predators.  

Chronic stress

Whilst you may find stress helps you to meet deadlines or study for exams, prolonged, repeated stress can have serious impacts on our overall well-being, leading to more severe difficulties including anxiety, insomnia, muscle pain, high blood pressure and a weakened immune system. In addition, chronic stress can contribute to the development of a range of serious illnesses, such as heart disease, obesity, and depression. Chronic stress can come from repeated to exposure to a range of stressful situations, such as relationship difficulties, work related stress, high study demands, chronic illness, major life changes (such as marriage), positive events (such as organising a wedding), or juggling too many roles at one time.

Reducing stress

There are a number of healthy ways in which stress can be alleviated. There include:

  1. Identify what causes stress: The first step in reducing stress is to identify your own personal stressors and determine what things you can and can’t change. For instance, whilst you may be unable to reduce your working hours, you may be able to organise your schedule to include more frequent breaks, or go to bed earlier to have more energy in the daytime.
  2. Exercise: Exercise helps to give you more energy and use up the stress related chemicals that are generated in your body.
  3. Eat and sleep: Basic human processes such as getting adequate sleep and eating a balanced diet can have a significant impact on our body’s ability to handle stress.
  4. Take time out: Taking time out to engage in leisurely activities, such as spending time with the family, can improve our mood and help reduce stress
  5. Calming techniques: Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga help reduce the physiological symptoms of stress. Deep breathing can be practiced anywhere, even at your office desk.
  6. Negative thinking: The way we think can contribute directly to stress, particularly negative thinking. Take note of the types of thoughts you have in your day to day life, and try to incorporate more positive self-talk, such as telling yourself “I can do this”, or “I’ve managed this stress before, I can do it again”.

If you are having significant difficulty coping with stress, consider contacting your local general practitioner or an Artius psychologist for further assistance.

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