What is stress?
This week marks the first week of Stress Awareness Month, and after the last year, it’s no wonder that the theme for 2021 is Regain Connection, Certainty and Control.
We all encounter stress at various times in our lives, and a study conducted by the Stress Management Society identified that 65 per cent of the 2000 British Adults surveyed, have felt more stressed since the Covid-19 restrictions began in March 2020, with the key causes being a worrying loss of control, uncertainty, and feelings of disconnection.
Stress is primarily your body reacting when it believes it is under attack. It predominantly manifests physically, releasing a mix of hormones, adrenaline, and other chemicals to prepare your body to fight whatever is attacking it.
This is also the same reaction as when you are feeling nervous or out of your comfort zone.
The adrenaline and hormones can give you that boost of energy that enables you to focus your attention or respond quickly to a situation which often allows you to push through in the short term. However over longer periods of time, you can end up feeling physically and mentally unwell.
As people experience stress in different ways, it tends to manifest itself differently depending on the person. Often, it targets the weakest part of your physiology or character; if you are prone to headaches or eczema, this will flare up. If you have low levels of patience or tolerance for others, this will be the first area to present under times of stress.
What are the signs of stress?
Everyone wears their stress differently, which means it can be hard to spot, however there will be changes to a stressed person, whether it’s cognitive, emotional, physical, or behavioural, or a combination of all four. Of course, we all have bad days, so it’s important to take note if one, or more of these changes reoccurs over a number of days.
- Cognitive – a person may suddenly display poor judgement, be unable to concentrate, or suffer from self-doubt.
- Emotional – feelings of overwhelm moodiness, frustration, irritability, depression, and anxiety are all key signs of a person suffering stress.
- Physical – a person may become ill more easily, or complain of aches and pains, and indigestion. They may have more frequent headaches or talk about rapid heartbeat or best pains.
- Behavioural – you may notice a person is sleeping far less, or far more than usual. They may isolate themselves from others or show a loss of sense of humour.
What to do if you, or a person you know is stressed?
Acknowledging stress and understanding what’s triggered it is always a good start, and while there are no specific treatments for stress, managing pressures and building your emotional resilience can help you cope.
Taking time out also helps. If you’re able to step away and allow yourself some time to relax, and think about what will make a situation better, or how you can cope better in stressful situations.
A lot of people turn to holistic therapies, yoga, and meditation, or take up a creative hobby to relax and relieve the stress hormone. Alternatively, others choose to embrace the positive endorphins that come from physical activity such as running or going to the gym – or currently opting to exercise at home or go for a long walk.
Talking things through with another person can really help, if you are able to turn to a trusted friend or relative who can listen to you and be open minded. However, some people prefer to speak to somebody more impartial, and choose talking therapies, where they can work with an independent therapist to develop a coping strategy to allow you to move forward in a positive way. If that’s something you feel would benefit you, please get in touch with us today by calling 01472 241794. We aim to put you in touch with a therapist within 24-hours and have you booked in to speak with someone hand-selected to suit your needs within 7-days, maximum.
Over the next month we will be posting regular blogs looking at how stress affects children, young people, and adults as well as how we have found the most affective and accessible ways of dealing with it for each group.