Addressing Why You Are Stressing
Stress is an unpleasant but all-too-common occurrence that we can all relate to.
Everyone experiences stress from time to time, whether it’s due to major life decisions, a hectic schedule, relationship issues, health worries, or a variety of other daily pressures and frustrations. Stress levels can also be influenced by events outside of our control, especially when faced with uncertainty and handling various emotions.
When we are confronted with new and/or recurring problems, stress can cause a variety of difficult sentiments, physical sensations, and reactions. However, stress may also be beneficial in our daily lives by helping us to cope when faced with new challenges.
What exactly is stress?
No doubt you hear the term “stressed” a lot, as many of us use it to describe a variety of moods and reactions on a daily basis, but what exactly does ‘stress’ mean?
Stress is the body’s response to adversity or change. When confronted with a challenging or unfamiliar circumstance or ‘stressor,’ our nervous system activates, preparing us to deal with the event. Observing changes in physical sensations (e.g., heart rate increases, temperature changing) and emotions (e.g., feelings of despair, fear and/or frustration) is a common way to detect the stress reaction. These feelings and emotions are our bodies’ way of notifying us that we’re stressed and that we should take action to reduce our load.
What causes stress and how does it work?
When our needs outnumber our resources, or when we have too much on our plates, we experience stress. This usually happens when we’re going through a major transition, dealing with intractable challenges, or juggling more issues than we can easily handle.
Our bodies may use stress as a signal that we have too much on our plates and that we need to take stock. It can also be a ‘wake-up call,’ indicating that we may need to learn new abilities to adapt better.
Reframing how you view stress
Looking at stress in a more realistic and positive viewpoint might be beneficial. The Yerkes-Dodson law demonstrates that a moderate amount of stress is beneficial to alertness, motivation and productivity. It implies that a degree of stress is required to achieve peak performance. In other words, stress can be your personal motivator or cheerleader when you need to get something done.
Stress can motivate us to work harder, improves our capacity for handling future problems, and increases our resilience in the face of new challenges. In some ways, small bursts of stress can help us recognise when we’re up against a problem and learn how to deal with it.
It’s important to recognise your negative feelings about stress and try to balance them out with more positive feelings.
When you’re in a positive frame of mind, you’re better able to deal with everyday stress in a more productive manner. We can achieve this in a variety of ways, one of which is through questioning negative self-talk.
Consider this scenario: your boss wants you to complete a task you’ve never completed before. Is your imagination instantly taken to a realm of worry and anguish? Or do you take a breath and try to see this as a chance to learn something new?
Stress management can be as simple as rephrasing a distressing event. It will take a lot of work – but adding this strategy into your routine will pay off.
How much stress is too much?
While some stress is healthy and beneficial, too much stress can have a negative impact on our health. Excessive or chronic stress can impede your performance, cause anxiety and depression, harm your physical health, lead to burnout, and have an impact on your relationships with others, according to Yerkes-Dodson law’s curve.
Signs of too much stress
At times, our bodies and minds will send us indications that the stress we’re carrying is too much for us to handle. These include:
- Tension and muscle aches
- Appetite or weight changes
- Oversleeping or difficulty falling or staying asleep
- Being unwell more frequently than usual
- Feeling antsy, irritated, or tense
- Tearing up easily
- Feeling annoyed on a regular basis
- Feeling overwhelmed, anxious and worried
- Being irritable and short tempered
- Having trouble remembering things
- Procrastinating and having trouble focusing
- No longer enjoying activities you love
- Turning to drink or illegal narcotics
- Distancing yourself from others
How to improve stress levels
When you are overwhelmed, recharging is important. If you think: “I’m too busy to take time out to relax”? this can exacerbate the negative stress cycle.
Managing your day-to-day mood is a vital aspect of managing stress, even if you don’t feel like you have time to do the things you need to do (let alone the things you want to do). Taking time to recharge (by relaxing, doing nice things, or having fun) will assist you in better managing your demands and maintaining your mental and physical health.
Keep in mind that taking time out for yourself is not selfish; in fact, we need to take care of ourselves in order to be there for others, whether it’s for friends, family, work, or anything else. Every day, we can recharge in little ways that help with our stress management.
Here are just a few suggestions for recharging:
- Exercising regularly
- Practicing breathing techniques
- Scheduling a massage
- Getting adequate rest
- Engaging in hobby or activity that you love
- Connecting to others socially
It is critical for our health and well-being to switch off at times. Don’t view it as being lazy or selfish – in fact, relaxing can help you be more productive! It’s well proven that taking a break can improve our alertness, creativity, problem-solving skills, and energy levels.
Treatment options for stress management
Changing your view on stress is a good first step to living a happier and more motivated life. However, if you need some help in this department, Positive Mind Works are here for you. Our team of psychologists are experienced in stress management and will teach you relaxation techniques that you need to help you switch off and zone out. To learn more, or to book an appointment, call us on 1800 327 477 (AU) or 0800 327 477 (NZ). Alternatively, click here to book now.