Stress affects us all, and it can affect our lives negatively. Stress is a normal reaction to the increasing demands of life. We all face stressful situations at a time in our lives and it has become a part of our daily life. Chronic stress can lead affect our physician and mental health. Identifying and managing stress can help us to cope with the challenges of life.
Three Steps to Manage your Stressor
Determine the current stressors in your life by paying attention to your body and recognizing the signals. Know when you need a break and be able to balance your work time and your free time. Allow yourself to take a break as needed, relax during this time, and do something you enjoy.
Identify the ways to reduce your stressors. Think of some strategies you can consider. Once you have identified your stressors, you can decide which stress management tips work for you.
Embrace changes that will help you to cope with life’s challenges and pressures. As well, know how to set your priorities right. Make healthy lifestyle choices and be open to trying new things.
Signs and Symptoms of Stress
- Cognitive symptoms include difficulty with thinking and poor concentration.
- Physical symptoms include headaches, poor sleep, gastrointestinal (GIT) problems, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, sexual problems, rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, weight loss or gain, and fatigue.
- Emotional Symptoms include low mood, mood swings, irritability, hopelessness, feeling anxious or nervous, feeling sad or depressed, restlessness, and agitation.
- Behavioral symptoms include changes in eating habits, increase use of caffeine, cigarettes, or alcohol intake, self-neglect, poor time management, social withdrawal, relationship problems, and poor performance.
Consequences of Long-Term Stress
- Mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression.
- Cardiovascular diseases, which include heart disease, high BP, heart attack, abnormal heart rhythm, and stroke.
- Eating disorders
- Sexual dysfunctions, which includes loss of sexual desire, and premature ejaculation
- Skin problems, such as acne and psoriasis
- GIT problems, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease, gastritis, and colitis.
12 Ways to Reduce Stress
Stress is a normal part of life. Everyone experiences stress, and it is in our environments. Sometimes we effectively cope with some stress. However, the intensity and duration of stressors could become burdensome. We need to learn how we can reduce stressors and deal with stress.
1. Sleep- Try to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
2. Adopt healthy eating and engage in regular physical activities- 30 minutes walk daily, regular exercise, fitness class, cycling, or get involved in other sports.
3. Time management- Manage your time effectively. Delegate to reduce your workload.
4. Meditate- Focus your mind on a particular thought or activity, such as relaxation techniques or breathing exercise.
5. Work on ways to improve your coping skills.
6. Tune in to your body- Understand yourself and know how stress affects you. Spend some time to appreciate nature.
7. Reach out for support and socialize- spend time with your family and with people that you enjoy their company.
8. Be grateful- Count your blessings, keep a positive attitude, or keep a gratitude journal.
9. Do something you enjoy- decompress with a warm blanket, massage therapy, and listening to music.
10. Take frequent short breaks throughout the day and take a vacation a few times during the year. Don’t let your health suffer. Make good health your priority.
11. Laugh every day- Laughing has been shown to reduce stress hormones in the brain.
12. Embrace changes- you need to embrace changes that would help you to cope with the stress of life.
CBI Health Group (2019). 3 steps of stress management: Determine, Identify, and change. Retrieved from https://www.cbi.ca/-/3-steps-of-stress-management-determine-identify-and-change
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health [CAMH, n.d.]. Stress. Retrieved from https://www.camh.ca.en/health-info/mental-illness-and-addiction-index/stress