“Stress never comes directly from your circumstances. It comes from your thoughts about your circumstances.”
This month it is National Stress Awareness Day on the 6th of November. We thought it might be an idea to investigate what stress actually is and if it is bothering you, what to do about it.
So, what is stress? According to the Oxford Dictionary it is:
- pressure or tension exerted on a material object
- a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances
Another definition found is “Stress can be defined as any type of change that causes physical, emotional, or psychological strain. Stress is your body’s response to anything that requires attention or action.”
And that brings us to the following – is all stress bad? Of course not! As usual with all emotions, they are neither good nor bad, they just are (I know, stress itself is not really an emotion, but bear with me), however comfortable or uncomfortable it feels. The latter definition tells all; something requires attention or action! Stress (like any other emotion) can be helpful or unhelpful. It is helpful when it is helping you action things, it is unhelpful when it becomes overwhelming, and you get ‘stuck’.
Symptoms of stress can be defined in four categories: Physical, Emotional, Cognitive and Behavioural.
Physical Symptoms of Stress:
- Low energy
- Upset stomach, including diarrhoea, constipation, and nausea
- Aches, pains, and tense muscles
- Chest pain and rapid heartbeat
- Frequent colds and infections
- Loss of sexual desire and/or ability
- Nervousness and shaking, ringing in the ear, cold or sweaty hands and feet
- Dry mouth and difficulty swallowing
- Clenched jaw and grinding teeth
Emotional Symptoms of Stress:
- Becoming easily agitated, frustrated, and moody
- Feeling overwhelmed, like you are losing control or need to take control
- Having difficulty relaxing and quieting your mind
- Feeling bad about yourself (low self-esteem), lonely, worthless, and depressed
- Avoiding others
Cognitive Symptoms of Stress:
- Constant worrying
- Racing thoughts
- Forgetfulness and disorganization
- Inability to focus
- Poor judgment
- Being pessimistic or seeing only the negative side
Behavioural Symptoms of Stress:
- Changes in appetite — either not eating or eating too much
- Procrastinating and avoiding responsibilities
- Increased use of alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes
- Exhibiting more nervous behaviours, such as nail biting, fidgeting, and pacing
So, what do we do with so-called Stress Management? Well, we usually start with treating the symptoms – some of them are easier to treat than others. We start with self-compassion, being kind to self and taking care of ourselves to enable stress relief (and sometimes you just have to start by stomping it out, run a mile, do some air-boxing as the pent-up anxious energy will have to get out of your body before you can be kind to yourself).
In therapy we look at the underlying thoughts and emotions of your stress; where do these self-defeating beliefs come from, can we defuse from these unhelpful thoughts, have there been times that you have been able to deal (better) with these stressors, how can we keep working towards our goals, living directions according to our own values?
I am not saying all the stress in the world will ever go away, I cannot promise you that you will never feel stressed again.
Andrew J. Bernstein (from quote at the start of this newsletter) explains in his Talk at Google how to get insight in your own thoughts about your circumstances, enabling you to consciously decide how to deal with these.
Thank you, Andrew Bernstein, drilling down, finding my own underlying self-beliefs, my own blinkered stuck-ness, has helped me gain a different perspective and with practicing my insight I definitely feel less stressed!
Above content is not intended to be a substitute for professional (medical) advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your General Practitioner or other qualified (mental) health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical/mental health condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.
Connect & Celebrate Awareness in November 2021
November seems to be the month of fundraising for very important causes. The ones below are definitely worth your time and effort!
Yes, it is here to stay: Movember! Grow your moustache, run or walk 60k for the 60 men we lose to suicide every hour across the world, host a mo-ment or mo your own way! Sign up and raise money for Men’s Health!
Globally men die five years earlier than women and for reasons that are largely preventable. Which means that it does not have to be that way.
Your top 5 things to support you to live healthier, happier and longer:
- Stay Connected – spend time with people who make you feel good.
- We need to Talk – being there for someone, listening and giving your time can be lifesaving.
- Know Your Numbers, Know Your Risk – Talk to your GP about prostate cancer.
- Know Thy Nuts – If something does not feel right; talk to your GP.
- Move More – Add more physical activity to your day.
And another fundraising this month is the Veg Pledge for Cancer Research UK. Can you go Vegetarian or Vegan for one month? Sign up here to receive your fundraising pack, recipes and online Giving page.
And of course, Children in Need with their TV extravaganza on the 18th of November. Pedal for Pudsey, Countryfile Ramble, Get Your Strictly On, Sponsor Forms, Money Box – all you possibly need to start your fundraising. Find it all here and off you go!
We hope you will have some fun and connect in November! Feel free to email us with your stories and photographs – and you might be featured in our next newsletter or blog!
This month we would like to point you towards a blog that caught our attention earlier this year.
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a neurological condition that causes a person to become caught in a cycle of obsessions (intrusive, unwanted, or distressing thoughts) and compulsions (rituals, repeated actions) to get rid of the thoughts. At times, this cycle is so debilitating that daily function becomes impossible.
Keep reading: Recognising OCD at work.
In these uncertain times we all could do with creating some headspace! For your overall mental health wellbeing it is useful to practice mindfulness. One of the ways of doing this is by guided meditation. You can find a whole load of guided meditations online, although it could be quite a job to find something that you like listening to. So, we have decided to share some of our favourites each month.
Dr. Juna Bobby guides you throughout this relaxing practice with gentle meditative music in the background.
And Kristin Neff guides you through a ‘standing up’ meditation:
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Have a great month!