We already know that a little bit of stress really is a good thing as it’s part of the flight or fight mechanism. In other words, if we didn’t have some stress we wouldn’t be able to run away from the lion or fight with an attacker. However, stress levels these days seem out of control and too much stress is really not a good thing and can wreak havoc with our health and our personal lives.
According to the director of Blount Memorial Counselling and Concern, Barbara Lasater, and Counsellor, Andy Schriver, if you have too much stress you need to set limits and say “no”. They also say that what some people consider as coping strategies for dealing with their stress can actually make their problems worse and increase their level of stress.
Ok so what sort of coping mechanisms are they talking about? Things like using alcohol, or drugs, or eating, or shopping, or having an affair, or anger mismanagement. It’s true, these are not going to decrease your stress levels but are more likely to give you additional problems to worry about.
When faced with a stressful situation Schriver says “take a deep breath, and make a conscious decision. Think — don’t just react. Ask yourself if what you are reacting to or your response will matter most down the road”.
What Lasater and Schriver reckon is the most effective way to tackle stress on an ongoing basis is to be conscious of your health, to get enough sleep, to exercise regularly and to eat a health diet, which all makes a lot of sense whether you are stressed or not.
Other studies into stress have highlighted ways of dealing with it but first of all you have to recognise the signs that the stress you are experiencing is becoming too much. Symptoms include a feeling of being overwhelmed, fatigue, skin problems and rashes, headaches and mood swings and even hair loss.
Other tips for dealing with stress:
- Listen to an uplifting piece of music or music that inspires you and makes you feel good
- Learn relaxation techniques to help you relax and unwind at the end of day, avoid the temptation to hit the bottle or snack on junk food
- Make sure you take regular breaks where you get right away from work; even a weekend away will work wonders if you can’t afford a longer holiday
- If your stress levels are affecting your ability to function effectively in any area of your life, seek professional help