Stress affects everyone and April is Stress Awareness month. At times stress can be energising, positive and motivating but when demands upon ourselves exceed our perceived ability to cope then stress can become a problem. The effects of stress are different for each person, for example it may affect our sleep, eating habits, relationships or concentration to do our job.
It is is rarely contributed to just one thing but to many factors over a period of time.
When stress becomes prolonged or excessive and we perceive that we cannot cope with demands then the impact upon our lives can be detrimental.
At times it is others that first recognise that we are stressed rather than ourselves. It can be easy to keep our head down, keep going and ignore warning signs. Sometimes we only recognise how stressed we are after the situation has gone!
The starting point is to increase our awareness of how we are feeling, what our body is telling us, notice changes in our behaviour and hear what others are saying. Only when we are aware can we do anything to help ourselves.
What are those warning signs? This will obviously differ for each person but here are a few that may be familiar to you:
Physical – increased muscular tension, headaches, feeling nauseous, sweating
Emotional – feeling anxious, increased irritation, frustration
Behaviour – decreased or increased sleeping, lack or increase in appetite, withdrawing, increased alcohol/coffee/smoking, lack of tolerance
Cognitions (thoughts) – blaming others, everything appears negative, increased worry about everything, not being able to switch off thoughts
So what can we do?
Identify what is causing the stress and determine whether:-
a) it is under your control and you are able to do something to change it
b) it is something that you cannot change and therefore find a way to accept the situation
c) you can just let it go, as in the long run or in a few weeks time, it really won’t matter or it isn’t that important
Share your concerns and seek out the right people that will be able to support you or be able to make changes with you.
Look after yourself physically by having a healthy diet, get enough sleep, take exercise, engage socially with others and actively do relaxation eg have a bath, listen to a mediation tape, have ring-fenced quiet time.
Talk to yourself as if you are your best friend; be kind, compassionate and caring to yourself. Praise and compliment yourself on how you are doing and how you are coping.
End the day by giving gratitude for what you have in your life – family, friends, home, health, faith, work etc.
Keep in mind that the stress will pass and spend each day focusing in the here and now. Turn worries into problems and look at how to solve them.
So how can I help?
Book yourself a Reiki session which promotes relaxation, re-balancing and restoring of energy levels.
Book an appointment to learn Emotional Freedom Technique (or Tapping) as a self-help tool that decreases intensity of emotions and promotes a different way of looking at situations.
Book a day on a retreat especially designed for healthcare workers – 11 May 2019.
There is nothing to be ashamed of feeling stressed and the more we understand our early warning signs and do something to help ourselves the more in control we feel thus decreasing our levels of stress.