It isn’t work if there’s no stress and we’re all guilty of shouldering the stress and soldiering on. However, this stress won’t go away on its own and it will only keep mounting until something happens. In addition to work-related stress, other things in the background such as your personal life could increase the amount of stress you’re under.
All of us deal with stress differently. For some, their threshold is much higher than others so they can still work optimally under duress but for others, they may not be as well-adjusted and their work and personal life could suffer.
Physical manifestations of stress include feeling tired, frequent headaches, tummy troubles, tense muscles, increased heart rate, insomnia, low immune system, clenched jaw and loss of sexual desire. Being stressed could also trigger behavioural symptoms such as having either no appetite or binge eating, procrastinating and avoiding responsibilities, nervous behaviour like nail biting, fidgeting and pacing and abusing alcohol and/or cigarettes.
Stress can definitely negatively influence your cognition where you feel constantly worried, you’re forgetful, unable to focus, pessimistic and have poor judgement. Additionally, for some, stress could cause them to feel easily irritated, frustrated and moody, overwhelmed like they’re losing control of their lives, have difficulty relaxing with a buzzing mind, low self-esteem and avoiding contact with others.
These symptoms don’t seem like they could be more than just a nuisance but long-term stress can cause or make health problems more serious. Problems such as cardiovascular disease which includes high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, heart attacks and stroke could occur. Skin and hair problems like acne, eczema, psoriasis and permanent hair loss along with gastrointestinal problems like ulcerative colitis and irritable colon are also possible symptoms.
Stress management strategies
The very first thing you need to do is to accept that there are things that are out of your control. In addition to that, keep a positive attitude by giving yourself positive messages. Instead of thinking, “Nothing ever goes the way I want it to”, try “I’m doing my best” or “I will ask for help”.
Manage your time well
Time management is actually very important in alleviating stress. Give yourself extra time to finish a piece of work so you won’t feel too pressured or anxious. This also applies to when you’re going anywhere. Plan your day the night before so you won’t miss your appointments and have time to prepare for meetings and such.
Make time for your hobbies because this will help you refocus your mind and give yourself a much-needed boost. Whether it’s journaling, knitting or carpentry, do schedule in some time during the week for you to relax and do what you like.
Eat & live well
Diet and exercise is also important when it comes to helping lower stress levels. Stress may change our appetites so it’s important to eat balanced meals and to have meals regularly to prevent gastric ulcers. Have a diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables with less added sugar and trans-fat. Regular exercise will help you maintain a healthy weight and lower cholesterol levels.
Most importantly, if you feel like you’re spiralling out of control, do confide in someone you trust such as a friend or family member. There’s no harm in seeing a mental health professional to help you deal with your stress.
Writer’s note: Stress is one of the main triggers of my eczema and when I have an eczema flare up, that creates more stress. This vicious cycle repeats itself every time I’m under duress. How I deal with it is to keep up with eczema care but also to ensure that I eat right, exercise and have enough sleep to ensure that my stress levels don’t boil over. Symptoms will usually go away after two weeks.