STRESS; How can we manage it? How do you manage yours?
So, as its Mental Heath Awareness week, I thought this was a good time to post this blog.
Mental health is a passion of mine, I'm a trained counselor and psychotherapist and I'm a great believer that your mental well being is everything, so looking after it is super important.
I have suffered with depression in the past and do also suffer with anxiety due to my ADHD and ASD, but I wanted to post something that will be helpful after this week had passed, almost a little quick guide to stress and how it effects us inside and out.
Stress isn't a psychiatric diagnosis, but its closely linked to your mental health in many ways.
How can we get stressed?
We all experience stress differently in different situations. Sometimes you might be able to tell right away when you're feeling under stress, but other times you might keep going without recognising the signs. Stress can affect you both emotionally and physically, and it can affect the way you behave.
Stress can cause mental health problems and make existing problems worse. For example, if you often struggle to manage feelings of stress or you could develop a mental health problem like anxiety or depression.
Being able to recognize common stress symptoms can help you manage them. However stress that's left unchecked it undoubtedly makes people ill but can also contribute to many health problems such as; heart disease, hypertension and high blood pressure, it affects the immune system, its linked to strokes, IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), ulcers, diabetes, muscle and joint pain, miscarriage, allergies, alopecia and even premature tooth loss.
What happens when we are stressed out?
when we are stressed out our fight or flight system kicks in, this is also known as the acute stress response), it refers to a physiological reaction that occurs when we are in the presence of something that is mentally or physically terrifying.
The fight-or-flight response plays a critical role in how we deal with stress and danger in our environment. Essentially, the The fight-or-flight response is triggered by the release of hormones that prepare your body to either stay and deal with a threat or to run away to safety It is also important to note that the response can be triggered due to both real and imaginary threats.
The fight-or-flight response can happen when faced with an imminent physical danger (such as encountering a growling dog during your morning run) or as a result of a psychological threat (such as preparing to give a big presentation at school or work).
What happens when our body is in Flight or Fight mode?
In response to acute stress, the body's sympathetic nervous system is activated by the sudden release of hormones. The sympathetic nervous system then stimulates the adrenal glands, triggering the release of catecholamines (including adrenaline and noradrenaline).
This chain of reactions results in an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate.
After the threat is gone, it takes between 20 to 60 minutes for the body to return to its pre-arousal levels.
Recognizing when we are stressed?
Understanding the body's natural fight-or-flight response is one way to help cope with such situations. When you notice that you are becoming tense, you can start looking for ways to calm down and relax your body, but before we look at that, lets see some of the things you can look out for
How you might be feeling
irritable, aggressive, impatient or wound up
anxious, nervous or afraid
like your thoughts are racing and you can't switch off
unable to enjoy yourself
uninterested in life
like you've lost your sense of humor
a sense of dread
worried about your health
neglected or lonely.
How you might behave
finding it hard to make decisions
avoiding situations that are troubling you
snapping at people
biting your nails
picking at your skin
unable to concentrate
eating too much or too little
smoking or drinking alcohol more than usual
restless, like you can't sit still
being tearful or crying.
How you might be physically effected
shallow breathing or hyperventilating
you might have a panic attack
blurred eyesight or sore eyes
problems getting to sleep, staying asleep or having nightmares
sexual problems, such as losing interest in sex or being unable to enjoy sex
tired all the time
grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw
high blood pressure
indigestion or heartburn
constipation or diarrhoea
feeling sick, dizzy or fainting.
Steps to take when feeling stressed 1, 2 & 3
1. Realise when it is causing you a problem
Try to make the connection between feeling tired or ill and the pressures you are faced with
Look out for physical warnings such as tense muscles, over-tiredness, headaches or migraines
2. Identify the causes
Try to identify the underlying causes
Sort the possible reasons for your stress into three categories 1) those with a practical solution 2) those that will get better given time and 3) those you can’t do anything about
Try to release the worry of those in the second and third groups and let them go only look at things that are within your control
3. Review your lifestyle
Could you be taking on too much?
Are there things you are doing which could be handed over to someone else?
Can you do things in a more leisurely way?
To act on the answer to these questions, you may need to prioritise things you are trying to achieve and re-organise your life.
This will help to release pressure that can come from trying to do everything at once
TRY THIS* - ensure you are sitting comfortably, maybe close the eyes... or soften the gaze, take in a deeeeeeeep breath in, fill the lungs with air, as much as you can take. Make a tiny hole with you lips and release the air slowly - make it long and slow, as slowly as you can.
(allow the shoulders to fall and soften each time you exhale)
REPEATE 2 more times.
How can we manage our stress?
Try to add a little physical exercise into your lifestyle as it can be very effective in relieving stress. Even just going out and getting some fresh air, and taking some light physical exercise, like going for a walk to the shops or a little yoga Slow Flow Monday | Curvy Asanas Yoga
2.Take time out
Take time to relax, strike the balance between responsibility to others and responsibility to yourself, this can really reduce stress levels.
Tell yourself that it is okay to priorities self-care. Are you needing time out but saying 'I just can't take the time off. look at it like this, if you are not well you can not take care of others.
3. Be mindful
Mindfulness is a mind-body approach to life that helps us to relate differently to experiences. It involves paying attention to our thoughts and feelings in a way that increases our ability to manage difficult situations and make wise choices. Try to practice mindfulness regularly. Mindfulness meditation can be practiced anywhere at any time, research has suggested that it can reduce the effects of stress, anxiety and related problems such as insomnia, poor concentration and low moods, in some people.
Ideas Box of things to help relieve stress (please comment below on your favorite things to de-stress you as we can all share these ideas together)
listening to music
breathing exercises /Pranayama
talking to friends/family
Whilst researching and writing this blog I came across these lovely quotes I thought I would leave with you!
Mental health problems don’t define who you are. They are something you experience. You walk in the rain and you feel the rain, but, importantly, YOU ARE NOT THE RAIN – Matt Haig
Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment, until it becomes a memory – Dr. Seuss
You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection – Buddha
INHALE - IN WITH THE GOOD EXHALE - OUT WITH THE BAD.
*please ensure you have read and understood the Curvy Asanas Waiver.