Managing stress

Stress is the feeling of being under too much mental or emotional pressure.

This could be caused by a number of things, but some of the most common include problems with:



•    Money


•    Relationships


•    Work


•    Housing


•    The loss of a friend or family member



Everyone has different ways of reacting to stress, which means a situation that feels stressful to one person may motivate someone else.



Stress can affect how you feel, think and behave.



Common signs of stress include:



•    Problems sleeping


•    Loss of appetite


•    Difficulty concentrating


•    Feeling anxious or irritable


•    Low self-esteem


•    Losing your temper


•    Drinking more


•    Acting unreasonable



Stress causes a surge of hormones in your body enabling you to deal with pressures or threats – this is known as the ‘fight or flight response’.  Once it’s passed your stress hormone levels will usually return to normal.  However, if you are constantly under threat these hormones will remain in your body making you feel this way constantly.



Managing stress in daily life



Stress is not an illness itself, but can lead to serious illness if it isn’t addressed at an early stage. Recognising the signs and symptoms of stress will help you figure out ways of coping without resorting to unhealthy, short term fixes, such as smoking, drinking too much or taking illegal drugs



Preventing stress can be difficult, however there are many things you can do to manage it more effectively.



There are guides available helping you to:



•    Learn how to relax


•    Take regular exercise


•    Manage your time better


•    Practice mindfulness




Recognising what makes you stressed



If you’re not sure what’s causing you to be stressed, keep a diary and make a note whenever you feel it.  Things you might want to write down include:



•    The date, time and place of when you felt stressed;


•    What you were doing;


•    Who you were with;


•    How you felt emotionally;


•    What was going through your mind;


•    How you felt physically;


•    A stress rating of 0-10 (where 10 is the most stressed you could ever feel)



You can use the diary to work out what triggers your stress and look for any patterns.



Doctors often recommend keeping a stress diary to help them diagnose and treat stress.

Help yourself...

Here are ten tips to combat stress and make yourself feel better.
  • 1 - Write a list

    • Include all the things that are stressing you out and rank them in order.

      This will allow you to focus your efforts on the issues that will make the biggest difference.
  • 2 - Manage your time

    • Write a list of all the things you need to do and categorise them into ‘must dos’ and ‘should do’s.  

      Cross all the ‘should dos’ off and tackle them later.  

      Sometimes simply organising your time better is often the best strategy in coping with stress.
  • 3 - Speak to others

    • If you are struggling to cope and feeling stressed tell someone.

      Often people are more than happy to help and share the workload.
  • 4 - Do some exercise

    • There is a strong link between those that are physically fit and those that are mentally fit.

      Exercise will not remove the stress from your life but it will help you organise your thoughts allowing you to deal with the problem more effectively.
  • 5 - Avoid foods high in sugar and caffeine

    • These foods often release energy in bursts and cause you to crash.

      These crashes often make you feel tire and can affect your mood, actually making you feel worse in the long run.
  • 6 - Check your goals

    • Are your goals are realistic and achievable?  

      If not change your goal to something that you can realistically achieve.
  • 7 - Avoid drugs and alcohol

    • They may provide you with a short term high, however they are also depressants which can make you feel worse and affect your mood.

      If you feel that you may becoming dependent on drugs or alcohol you should seek advice from your local GP.
  • 8 - Stop worrying about things that you cannot change

    • Ask yourself, is the problem real or not?

      If you cannot do anything to change the situation forget about it.
  • 9 - Do something you enjoy

    • There is no better way to relax than by doing something you love.

      Whether it’s walking the dog, watching TV or reading a book doing something you enjoy is a great way to manage your stress.
  • 10 - Learn to say no

    • Don’t say you will do something if you realistically do not have time to do it.

      This will only add to your stressful life and allow things to build up.