So what exactly is stress?
It’s easy to think of stress, anxiety and tension as the same thing as all high emotion, but the states that they describe are actually very different:
Anxiety refers to a state of being anxious about danger and being overly concerned about the future leading to overthinking and constant worry mostly of the unknown. Anxiety is not usually linked to a specific person, situation or experience – it’s a vague, undefined, tense feeling of dread which is difficult to control and effects all areas of people's’ lives.
Stress refers to an effort or demand on a person’s physical body or mental energy. Stress produces the same feelings as anxiety, but is usually linked to a specific person, situation or experience that one fears.
Tension on the other hand, refers to mental strain or excitement, a strained state or relationship.
In short, stress is your body’s reaction to a trigger and is generally a short-term experience. Stress can be positive or negative. When stress kicks in and helps you pull off that deadline you thought was a lost cause, it’s positive. When stress results in insomnia, poor concentration, and impaired ability to do the things you normally do every day, it’s negative and starts taking a toll on our bodies as well as our mental
and emotional state. Stress is a response to a threat in any given situation. With symptoms that can appear interchangeable, it can be difficult to know when to work on relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, and other tools, and when to seek professional help.
Symptoms of Stress
High levels of stress can wreak havoc on the mind and the body. While stress can manifest in many ways, it helps to know a few common symptoms:
Rapid heart rate
Having difficulty quieting the mind
Low energy and tiredness
Loss of sexual desire
Back and/or neck pain
Feeling light-headed, faint, or dizzy
Sweaty palms or feet
Irritability and short temper
Symptoms of stress can vary and change over time. Cueing into your own responses to stress can help you increase awareness of how stress manifests for you. Knowing this vital information will help you learn to use stress reduction techniques at the first signs of stress to avoid long-term repercussions.
Coping with and managing stress effectively
Learning to cope with stress can require some trial and error. What works for your best friend might not work for you. It’s important to build your own stress reduction toolkit so that you have more than one strategy to implement when stress kicks in.
These are my top TEN suggestions to combating stress
Click on the links for more information
The single best thing you can do when under stress is to engage in deep breathing. Practice this strategy when you’re calm so that you know how to use it when you’re under pressure. Square breathing balances your Heart Rate, Blood Pressure, stress hormones, which in turn allows relaxation to occur: - Inhale for a count of four, hold for four, and exhale for four, hold for four. Repeat.
The best way to practice mindfulness is to disconnect from your digital world and reconnect with your natural world for a specific period of time each day. Take a walk outside and use the opportunity to notice your surroundings using all of your senses. Being aware of the present moment by using techniques such as concentrating on your breathing, noticing how your body feels when you walk, or mindful courses or using pilates, yoga and meditation. This is being used more and more in dealing successfully with stress/anxiety, but it is something you need to do regularly to see best results.
Daily exercise releases feel-good chemicals in your brain. Making exercise a daily habit can buffer you from negative reactions to stressful events. Exercise releases powerful endorphins chemicals in the brain that make you feel good and uses up that excess adrenaline and stress hormones. I have always done pilates and just started practicing Yoga with my son and we’ve found it great fun and a wonderful way to unwind. I also find great benefit getting out and walking my dog daily in the fresh air and open countryside. Natures’ natural de-stress!
Keep gratitude and reflection journal
Writing down your best moments or what you have learnt each day helps you sort through the obstacles and focus on what went right, how to improve next time and notice all the good in your life. It’s normal to experience ups and downs on any given day. To be grateful and reflect on what you have around you and what mini goals I have achieved, as opposed to always focusing on the problems or end point of a huge goal is much more productive and better for you. This certainly helps me to enjoy the process, rather than feeling stressed as I’ve not met the end goal yet.
By practising meditation you are more in tune with the present moment and less likely to be stressed as your brain is more in tune with concentration and focus and helps you regain that positive feeling. Meditation has been shown to reduce Blood pressure, lower the stress hormone cortisol and increased length of your telomeres in your brain that are linked to ageing, i.e. it actually slows down ageing process!! So all good.
Meditation never has to be complicated and only achieved by gurus or monks, anyone can do it. A simple meditation is focusing on your breath or working through your body from head to toe releasing each muscle and micro-muscle. Give it a go.
Make a To Do list
Try rearranging your list with 2 columns, one with your priorities and the other with things you’d like to do but it wouldn’t be a disaster if you didn’t achieve it. This way you have things clearer in your mind and it takes a bit of pressure off you to get everything done at once. It’s good to have a deadline but does everything need to have one and are they achievable? Choose which of your goals should have a deadline and where you can allow yourself a bit more flexibility. A little bit of stress can be good but remember to put a limit on it and find ways to break that stress cycle.
Face to face with a professional or joining a self help group.
Talk to someone - Change how you see the problem. If you define a problem as overwhelming, it’ll appear impossible to solve – also, if you think about a problem on your own, you only have one point of view. A friend, colleague or family member can help give you a different perspective and potential solution to the problem. However be careful as many friends and family will try to be compassionate and unintentionally in the process will lock in the fact your problem is a big one and reinforce a victim state in you. Everything is possible to move from, Focusing on why you feel that way and why your problem and life are so bad just keep you stuck in the problem. A psychotherapist challenges these beliefs and shows you how you can move on from that feeling by doing things differently and seeing life in a different way. This is how I helped move on to feel my best and overcome my issues. Hence this is what I have trained in to help my clients.
Improve your diet
Eating a mood enhancing diet such as leafy greens, fish, beans, chicken and eggs, plenty of fluids (not alcohol!) omega 3 and Vitamins D and B. A low Glycaemic Index Diet also helps stabilise hormones linked to mood.
Important for your body and brain to recover and flush out toxins while you sleep and give you energy to deal with your busy day.
Hypnotherapy helps fine tune your thought processes and taps into the latent power of the mind to de-stress you and promote relaxation and healing throughout your mind and body. Highly successful tool that is now being used more and more.
What do you like to do to De Stress?
I have to say - I always find myself sweeping the kitchen floor or emptying the dishwasher when I’m stressed and can’t face all the more important things that need to be done!! A dog walk is also my go to when I feel the need to unwind and reset my mind and body.
When should you seek advice?
It’s important to learn to identify your triggers and responses and find strategies that work for you. Alternatively, book an appointment to have a chat with your doctor.
How can I help?
I am a Psychotherapist and Expert Master NLP Life Coach, Master Hypnotherapist, Registered Nutritionist (aligned to medicine) and Reiki Master. I use a combination of these skills and techniques to treat clients as a whole - physically, mentally and emotionally, gaining remarkable results.
For videos and more information about stress, anxiety and mood and how I can help click on my website
I run courses and workshops on De stressing and Relaxation
De-Stress and Relaxation Strategy Course (course scheduled for March 2019), as well as 1-2-1 sessions to help you achieve your goals.
Please contact me for a 15 minute free consultation.
Other useful points of reference:
They have put together their top 8 best self-care books this month. From moving memoirs with handy tips to practical pocket guides filled with interactive exercises, here’s their tried and tested selection https://www.independent.co.uk/extras/indybest/books/best-self-care-books-a8116376.html
The Stress Management Society/Mind
These are two fantastic organisation with websites full of useful information and guides to help you identify, manage and overcome stress.