Mental Health studies show that young adults spend more than 6 hours a day being stressed, which can act as a catalyst for mental health problems. Whilst a lot of us may brush stress off as something that is part of any 9-5 job, recognising when stress gets too much and knowing how to handle it, is key to getting to not letting it overcome you.
What exactly is stress?
Stress is a feeling of being under immense pressure, which can come from a multitude of internal and external factors in your life. People can get stressed over things that others may consider either minor or major, be it family arguments, hostility in the office, financial woes or a transitional period in your life. If stress continues to build up over a period of time, it can be very overwhelming and be detrimental to your health both mentally or physically.
Here are the common stress related signs to look out for. Please note that if they begin to affect your life, health and wellbeing on a more regular basis, to go seek out help from a gP.
- low self-esteem
- eating more or less than usual
- changes in your sleeping habits
- difficulty relaxing
- using alcohol, tobacco or illegal drugs to relax
- aches and pains, particularly muscle tension
- diarrhoea and constipation
- feelings of nausea or dizziness
- loss of sex drive
- feelings of constant worry or anxiety
- feelings of being overwhelmed
- difficulty concentrating
- mood swings or changes in your mood
- irritability or having a short temper
A lot of people ignore the telling signs of stress and over a prologue period of time, it can lead to physical problems such as depression, a rundown immunity system and IBS, as a result of digestive and intestinal difficulties. This is why it is key to manage your stress before it overwhelms you.
How to combat and manage against stress
Take time out
Whilst not everyone has the luxury of a work-life balance, knowing when to take time out is essential to your mental health. Whilst you may think your responsibility to others is greater than your responsibility to yourself, it will become steadily apparent that you won’t be able to concentrate on the tasks at hand for others if you’re not in the right head space. Take time out, relax and give yourself some time to ‘just be’.
It’s difficult to sleep when you bring the things that cause you anxiety at home with you at night. It’s often unavoidable as they plague the space you sleep in. Perhaps consider how you could amend the environment around you to aid you in a good night’s sleep. That means, turning off screens at least an hour before bed, disconnecting from your professional life, avoiding drinking caffeine or sugary foods. Instead, have a bath, read a book or listen to a podcast and get yourself in the right mind frame for sleep.
Consuming junk, alcohol and chain smoking is going to burn you out quickly, deplete your energy levels and make you feel sluggish. Evidence suggest fast food can affect your mood, whilst incorporating a healthy diet can improve it.
It has long been known that exercise releases endorphins and can relieve stress. Whether you decide to partake in a group exercise class or light exercise outdoors, it’s a great distraction from the daily stresses of life.
We sometimes allow ourselves to get swept away in the one hundred and one things we need to do that day and don’t allow ourselves to take the time to properly stop, reflect and process things. Mindfulness is key to really listening to your needs and changing a negative mind set.
Any upsides of stress?
Research has shown that stress can also make you feel more alert and awake, helping you to perform better under pressure. However, this is only beneficial on a short-term basis rather than a long term one.
Stress can play havoc on your emotions and your behaviour
Stress can spill over into your day to day behaviour, when you cannot control your feelings and emotions. These can include feeling anxious, irritable and generally low about your own worth. You may find yourself constantly worrying, over analysing, quick tempered and emotional.
There is nothing wrong with admitting when stress has got the better of you. There will be periods of time when both you, your friends and your family will experience stress from external factors, that is out of both your and their control. There is a line between being stressed and being both mentally and physically unwell as a result of it. Recognising when you’re stressed and enforcing methods to calm or take yourself away from these situations is important. There is nothing wrong with seeking help if you don’t believe you are coping at combatting stress on your own. Your mental health should be your highest priority and if it means taking the first steps to book to see a Doctor or a Cognitive Behavioural therapist then you are one step closer to managing your stress than you were the day before.
Feeling Anxious? Click here for Anxiety UK
Click here mental health charity and resource MIND