Talking about feelings of stress has become part of our daily routine. Stress is defined in different ways. Technically it is the adverse reaction people have to pressure or demands places on them.
Or put more simply, the constant and repetitive feeling you have when you are doing one thing but feeling that you should be doing something else. Like when you are working but feeling you should be exercising. Or playing with your kids but feeling you should be working. Or working on one project but feeling you have 5 other things you should be doing for your boss that are more important. Sound familiar? Feelings of stress are normal and part of life and in fact often beneficial as this is part of our body inbuilt way of functioning.
However this stress reaction can take different forms for different people at different times
It can occur acutely to a sudden adverse event or can be a chronic build up at a low level over time
When we are stressed, or identify something stressful going on around us, our body goes into a fight or flight position with the idea of self protection.
Different chemicals ( hormones, known as chemical messengers) are released when we are in this state. In response to an acute situation this is essential.
However when this stress reaction happens on an ongoing regular basis the reaction within ourselves can be so subtle we don’t always notice it until things have built up to a level that stress is revealing itself in different ways. Perhaps a feeling of struggling to cope, making mistakes, arguing with our nearest and dearest or struggling to sleep.
Stress at Work
Work related stress is common- that is stress as direct result of number of different factors in our workplace — over 12.8 million days of absence per year are lost to work placed stress. (hse.gov.uk)
Within a work place sources of stress can come from the role itself, changes within the role not being communicate, difficulties in work place relationships, a sense of lack of support or personal control over what we are being asked to do and changing demands being placed on us
How stress can affect us
Stress can affect how we feel, how we think, how we behave and even our physical health such as affecting our hear rate, blood pressure or our sleep patterns
We, or those around us may notice difficulty concentrating, lapses in memory, becoming vague, easily distracted, recurrent negative thinking, worrying and difficulty in finding our own intuition
We might feel more tearful, more irritable, have mood swings, feel sensitive to criticism, more defensive, struggle with motivation,
There may be a feeling of being out of control, being angry, increased frustration. Persistent feelings like this can result in a lack of confidence or self esteem
Physical symptoms can occur too- commonly people report a loss of libido, rashes , gut symptoms such as indigestion or a change in weight, frequent colds or infection, palpitations or feeling dizzy or even difficulty swallowing .
In summary there are lots of ways stress can take its toll. It’s important to be aware of these for ourselves and for those we care about
Ways to help:
How to cope with stress
Look after the basics- get enough sleep, drink enough water, move more, eat well. These are some of the core building blocks of brain health at Noggin HQ.
Turn the stone- try to see things differently, that can be hard on your own but talk to someone else you trust about your worries and what ever is making you feel stressed
Take a break - even just a few minutes in the work day can help you feel refreshed and better prepared for the tasks ahead.
Accept what you cannot change- a big one- make a list of everything that is worrying you about the situation, divide it into what you can and cannot change. You might find there are more things in the ‘cannot change’ versus ‘can change’ column-so focus on accepting this
Task out your day- get the tough things done first thins
Say no- if we are struggling or under pressure we can feel the need to try harder, do more, try to prove that we are ‘doing ok’. Say no to more than you can handle. Your health will thank you for it
Dr Clara Russell