Life is full of situations that cause stress! However, stress isn’t always a bad thing. It can be the motivation to get us moving — to write that report, make the ballet costume, perform in the play or make that important speech, etc. But when you are constantly functioning with your foot on the stress pedal, your mind and body will eventually feel the effects.
When we’re facing something stressful, we release hormones into our nervous system. These hormones, adrenalin and cortisol, help us to get through these stressful situations. Our heart rate, breathing and blood pressure may increase. We are tense and we perspire more.
These symptoms may help us to come through the stressful situation, but if we find ourselves going through continued stressful times, other symptoms may begin to appear.
Some of these symptoms are:
- Poor memory and judgement;
- Lack of concentration;
- Worrying continually;
- Headaches, and aches and pains;
- Stomach issues — diarrhoea, constipation and indigestion;
- Rapid heartbeat;
- Depression — feeling sad;
- Feeling moody or agitated or overwhelmed;
- Sleeping or eating irregularities;
- Using alcohol, drugs or cigarettes to get through.
Some ways to deal with stress and its symptoms
Know the warning signs — Get to know the signals your body is sending you. Remember we are all different. Some of these signals are clenching your jaw, grinding your teeth, headaches, feeling cranky and short-tempered.
Recognise your triggers — Certain situations will send your stress levels racing. If you know what these triggers are, you can learn to avoid them, or to settle yourself down when you know you have to face the trigger. Triggers may be seeing particular people, facing a deadline, too many late nights or overactive, tired or hungry children.
Be organised — Allow time in your week for exercise, time out (read or have a hobby) and friends (people who believe in you). Organise your meals for the week and have a routine for the chores that need to be done. Being organised takes away a lot of stress and leaves you feeling calm and in control.
Be health-conscious – Eat a healthy diet and find time for some exercise every day (remember those household chores are a form of exercise) and yes, a little chocolate is good for the soul.
Watch the words you say to yourself — If you keep telling yourself, “I can’t cope”, “I’m exhausted”, “This is too hard”, or “It just isn’t fair”, you will begin to feel this is true. Instead, catch yourself and stop, take a breath and try saying positive, gentle and hopeful things to yourself: “I’m doing well with everything I have to do right now”, “Take a breath and slow down”, “I am doing a good job”. This will help you feel more at peace and relaxed.
Learn to relax — Take a few minutes to sit comfortably, close your eyes, breathe deeply and quiet your thoughts. Or put on some quiet music. I used to flick the radio to the classical station when I could sense the mood of my children becoming overactive, noisy, tired and on the verge of collapse! Or take up a relaxing hobby; get into the garden and enjoy digging in the soil and the beauty of nature.
Stress can be different for each person. The important thing to remember is that if you are experiencing any symptoms or feelings that are causing you concern, don’t brush them to the side.
Listen to your inner voice and get yourself checked by your doctor. These sensations could be coming from some other health condition, or they may be simply your way of dealing with a “stressful” situation. Listen to your body.
“Are you constantly stressed out?
Are you becoming used to the tension in life?
Do you have insomnia?
Meditate on the beach
Take a walk in the forest.
Bury your feet in some dirt
Dance beneath the moon.”
~ Carla Goddard
Originally published at Mum Daily. Photo by Gustavo Fring.