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ELAINE BOND: Recognise these symptoms? You may be stressed

Elaine-Bond

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ELAINE BOND: Recognise these symptoms? You may be stressed

ELAINE BOND: Recognise these symptoms? You may be stressed

In her column for Gedling Eye, Elaine Bond, who runs a counselling service in Gedling, talks about ways of managing stress

Stress is quite a complex reaction to emotions and experiences in your life: your body reacts to situations in your life by releasing chemicals into your blood stream, including adrenaline and cortisol, to get your body ready to react to the perceived ‘threat’.

Your heart will beat faster, your muscles tighten and your senses heighten.  Your reaction time is enhanced, you can focus better and your stamina is increased. You are ready for action! You have entered the ‘fight or flight mode’ and your body is ready to protect you from the danger. It’s called mobilisation and is an automatic reaction programed in humans originally to keep us safe from Saber-Toothed Tigers.

It’s actually good for you at the right level; enough stress will protect you from the driver who slams on their brakes in front of you, it is the hormones that make us react quickly and stop. It’s good for those nasty job interviews or revising or exams or work presentations.

But when you are constantly stressed or when you find your ‘flight or fight’ response too strong you can become ill. Constant stress affects all parts of your body, IBS is common is mostly caused by stress, you may catch every cold and bug going as your immune system slows down. Women’s reproductive cycle and fertility becomes affected, your blood pressure increases, you age quicker and the likelihood of a stroke is increased. Add to that the fact that your existing conditions will worsen especially depression, skin conditions, sleep issues and ability to remember things.

Constant stress is bad for us.

There are so any reasons you feel stressed and just to be confusing different people are stressed by different things. Big events often cause stress like moving, bereavement, changing jobs even the positive events create stress, have you arranged a wedding? Then you’ll know!

You also create your own stress by magnifying your worries, being a perfectionist and having a critical inner voice constantly pulling you down.

Sometimes you don’t know you are stressed, it’s just how life is right? Well if any of these symptoms apply to you…. You may be stressed

  • Negativity
  • Worrying
  • Unhappiness
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Changes in eating habits too much or too little
  • Using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax
  • Aches and pains
  • Diarrhoea or constipation
  • Chest pains or rapid heartbeat

So if you have all the symptoms but stress has become a part of your life and you don’t know why the NHS suggests you make a record of the following –

  • The date, time and place of a stressful episode
  • what you were doing
  • who you were with
  • how you felt emotionally
  • what you were thinking
  • what you started doing
  • how you felt physically
  • a stress rating (0-10 where 10 is the most stressed you could ever feel)

(http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/Pages/understanding-stress.aspx)

After a week or two what triggers your stress will start to stand out, it could be a time of day, a person, an event or plain overload.

The easiest way to deal with stress is to remove the trigger but realistically most the time that isn’t going to happen. Things like being overworked or relationship issues can be challenged if you chose to talk about them with the appropriate person.

The easiest way to deal with stress is to remove the trigger but realistically most the time that isn’t going to happen. Things like being overworked or relationship issues can be challenged if you chose to talk about them with the appropriate person.

But you can take control of a situation, split up the problem into smaller steps (easier of you write it down). Come up with as many solutions as you can (no matter how far-fetched), then read it back, find the best solutions and make a plan of who, how, where and when you will tackle them.

A great tip is taking really good care of yourself when you are stressed. Avoid, or reduce, your consumption of nicotine and any drinks containing caffeine and alcohol. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants and so they increase stress and some of its physical symptoms. Alcohol works both ways in small amounts it is a stimulant but in large amounts it is a major depressant.

Eat well; avoid junk food and sugars, no matter how comforting they feel for a few minutes, ultimately they cause a spike in blood sugar and then a crash, taking all your energy with them.

Get some exercise but make it something you enjoy, the ‘fight or flight’ reaction gets your body ready to defend itself when it usually doesn’t need to. Physical exercise can be used to reduce the excessive stress hormones and restore your body and mind to a better, calmer and more rational state.

Make sure you get some sleep; look at ways of calming down before you go to bed to stop stress waking you up at 3am. Get a sleep routine, the same time every night, stay away from caffeine during the evening. Stop doing any mentally demanding work several hours before going to bed so that you have time to relax and start to calm. A warm bath or reading a calming, undemanding book helps you relax and tire your eyes before going to bed. Stop using social media, TV etc. a couple of hours before you go to bed. You-Tube has some great sleep relaxation videos you can use before going to bed.

Say no to additional stress whenever you can, don’t go to that party if you are tired, manage your time, and write to do lists if they help.

Check out the mind website for more tips –

http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/stress/developing-resilience/#.WJM20W-LRR0

Finally if none of this works talk to someone, a friend or relative, your manager if its work related or try counselling. Stress does not have to rule your life.

  • Elaine Bond runs a counselling service in Gedling. For more details call 07769 152951 or see her Facebook page here
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