How to handle stress

What is stress

Stress triggers a series of physiological changes to take place, allowing you to either fight a perceived threat or run away from it, being the flight phase. (fight-or-flight response) and typically, following that reaction; your body should then relax.   However, too much constant stress can have an adverse effect on your long-term health.

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Unfortunately, you may not always be aware of the immediate threat (unconscious) by rumination and reflecting on past events, which may become persistent and recurrent worrying leads to an episodic stress state.

If the toxic stress response continues to be extreme and long-lasting, this will then increase your risk of developing several diseases, including heart disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and cancer.

According to a study, 60 to 80 per cent of doctor’s office visits may be stress-related. Episodic stress also commonly afflicts those who worry a lot of the time, in turn resulting in anxiety and depression illnesses.

However, suppose the stress response continues or is triggered by multiple sources. In that case, it can have a cumulative toll on an individual’s physical and mental health in the long-term.

Episodic Stress

Episodic stress occurs when we experience acute stress too frequently. It often hits those who take on too much―those who feel they have both self-imposed pressure and external demands striving for their attention. In such cases, hostility and anger frequently result.

The more you can check off on the list below, the higher the likelihood that you’re suffering from Episodic Stress.

[https://sakuracounseling.org/services/acute-stress-vs-episodic-acute-stress-vs-chronic-stress/]

How can stress affect you?

We’ve all been there.

The deadline is looming, and we’ve barely begun to work. We all recognise that feeling in the pit of our stomach as we settle down to work. 

But does pressure have to lead to stress?

And what do stress and anxiety do to our goal and focus?

Stressed Sick

We know for a fact that stress from psychological pressure affects our bodies. It leads to higher blood pressure, anxiety, and a host of other symptoms

It also makes it hard to concentrate on the task at hand.

If you’re feeling pressure at work, and it’s leading to stress, then you probably aren’t at your most effective. You might be missing deadlines or making mistakes, or even worried yourself sick and had to take a personal day.

All of these things can be caused by stress from psychological pressure.

Mounting Motivation

We all feel stressed at times, but what one person finds stressful may be very different from what another finds stressful. But then again, with good coping skills, pressure doesn’t always have to lead to stress. 

It can positively affect enthusiasm, too. When you’re feeling stressed, you should try to practice positive thinking, self-distraction, or one of many other techniques that can beat stress and help your focus.

Working under pressure is an excellent skill to have, but like other skills, it takes practice to get better. This website is full of positive suggestions and helpful hints for getting better at handling stress caused by pressure.

The most important thing you can do is learn to cope because with positive coping mechanisms, we see the stress melt away, and in its place, there are a host of positive benefits of working under pressure.

Performing Under Pressure

When you’ve mastered your stress levels and learn to perform under pressure, you might notice a few things. You’ll keep a more relaxed head under challenging situations, thinking clearly when others around you are flailing wildly at the thought of some terrible outcome. 

You’ll notice that your leadership skills improve and that people turn to you in a crisis. You might also see that you perform better under pressure because of the positive coping mechanisms that you’ve mastered.

People who perform under pressure are in huge demand in every industry. Whether you’re at the office or behind a counter, performance under stress will lead to promotions and positive feedback.

Every employer on Earth wants to find someone who can keep a cool head under pressure, and with a little bit of practice and some positive habits that someone could easily be you.

Coping strategies using a SMART goals approach

You’ve likely heard that to accomplish something, it helps to set goals. It’s the same thing when you want to learn ways of coping with stress.

However, it’s not good enough to say that your goal is to learn how to cope with stress. This is just too vague. Instead, you want to learn to set S.M.A.R.T. goals, which are more specific so that you have a better chance of actually meeting them.

S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Related. Here are examples of how you can put this into use.

 "S" is for Specific

Be specific with your goal. In other words, what exactly is your goal?

Be sure to write it down, and to include who, what, where, when, and why.

Instead of merely stating that you want to cope better with stress, try saying this:

 “I want to start learning today how to deal with the stress I experience at my job so that I will be more pleasant for my family and co-workers to associate with.”

"M" is for Measurable

Determine a method by which you can measure whether you’re progressing or reaching your goal.

The way you do this is by first creating a baseline from which to measure.

Before you take steps to achieve your goal, you need to figure out where you are currently at. Then you will be able to identify if what you are doing is working.

For example, if you want to deal better with the stress at work, it’s not enough to say, “I want to experience less stress.”

Instead, think about how you will know that you are experiencing less stress.

Perhaps you get an average of ten tension headaches per month due to stress at work. You could measure a decrease in stress by stating,

“I want to experience no more than two work-related headaches per month.”

Another example might be that you’re always ten to twenty minutes late for work, which causes you great anxiety and stress. Maybe this is because you do not wake up early enough.

If this is the case, then you can set a goal to wake up by a specific time in order that you can make it to work five minutes earlier than your start time.

This is a measurable goal.

"A" is for  Attainable

Another word for attainable is realistic. You don’t want to create

Unrealistic goals as it will only lead to frustration, and inability to follow through. This is a sure way to fail in meeting your goals.

An example of an unrealistic goal is: “I do not want to experience stress at my job.” 

A more realistic, attainable goal is: “I want to learn techniques that will help me deal with stress when it arises on the job”.

To help you determine if a goal is attainable, ask yourself questions such as whether you have the resources, time, and the ability to learn the necessary skills to meet that goal.

 "R" is for Relevant

The goal should be relevant to you so that you feel motivated to carry it through. 

It needs to be a goal that you can get passionate about. 

If you set a plan to please someone else, then it is no longer personal and relevant to you. For example, if it is your spouse’s goal that you develop a goal to cut down on your stress so that you quit talking about work in your sleep, this goal is not likely to be very relevant to you.

If you wake up feeling rested despite keeping your spouse up with your sleep talking, then you are not expected to feel very motivated to make a change.

On the other hand, if you are experiencing fatigue due to the inability to sleep due to stress, you will be more motivated to make the necessary changes to fix the problem.


"T" is for Time-Related 

One of the biggest mistakes that people make is not to set a timeline. 

Without a timeline, you cannot establish if you’re meeting the goals you set. 

When setting timelines, you need to set dates to reassess your progress and check that you are on the right track to meeting your goals.

You may then find that you need to readjust your goals or the time frame in which to meet them.

Use the following template to help you plan and manage your goals in the worksheet.  

Bibliography

https://sakuracounseling.org/services/acute-stress-vs-episodic-acute-stress-vs-chronic-stress/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rumination_(psychology)

https://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk/volume-24/edition-1/new-voices-problem-rumination

Markers of chronic stress: prolonged physiological activation and (un)conscious perseverative cognition

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20096302/

https://www.smartsheet.com/blog/essential-guide-writing-smart-goals

https://corporatefinanceinstitute.com/resources/knowledge/other/smart-goal/

Discrimination on the mental health of Black women 

Psychoneuroendocrinology. 35(6), 932-943. [19] Berger, M., & Sarnyai, Z. (2015). “More than skin deep”.

The Effects of Stress on Your Body

https://www.healthline.com/health/stress/effects-on-body#1

How to manage stress

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/stress/what-is-stress/

https://developingchild.harvard.edu/science/key-concepts/toxic-stress/

Everything You Need to Know About Stress

https://www.healthline.com/health/stress#types

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/s/stress

Stress Management

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-symptoms/art-20050987

Struggling with stress?

https://www.nhsinform.scot/healthy-living/mental-wellbeing/stress/struggling-with-stress

Further reading

There is no doubt that the current cases in anxiety (Panic attacks) have increased beyond belief due to the pandemic. Personal opinion based on current workload. Statistics and confidentiality rules apply for precise numbers at this time.

Pandemics can be stressful

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic may be stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a new disease and what could happen can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children.

Public health actions, such as social distancing, can make people feel isolated and lonely and can increase stress and anxiety. However, these actions are necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19. 

Coping with stress in a healthy way will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.

Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can sometimes cause the following:

  • Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones, your financial situation or job, or loss of support services you rely on.
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns.
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating.
  • Worsening of chronic health problems.
  • Worsening of mental health conditions.

Increased use of tobacco, and/or alcohol and other substances.

Reference

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html

Tony

  • […] our stress, but we can learn ways to decrease it and deal with it.  This can help to prevent stress-related illnesses, and ensure you live a healthier […]

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