What is stress?
Work can be beneficial for people’s mental health and general wellbeing. However, finding ourselves in a work situation we cannot control and which we cannot avoid can lead to stress.
Your body responds to demanding situations by releasing adrenaline and cortisone into your blood which help give you strength and energy to deal with these situations.
This can be very useful if there is an outlet for this stress, ie you use that strength and energy to deal productively with the situation. However, if there is no outlet for your stress, it builds up and can have many negative consequences.
What are the symptoms?
It is important to remember that the ‘right’ amount of stress is different for all of us. We each respond to stress differently but here are just a few signs you might recognise in yourself:
Back ache or neck pain, headaches, feeling light-headed or dizzy, dry mouth, skin problems, frequent infections or colds, feeling tired or worn out for most or all of the time.
Changes in sleeping patterns, changes in eating patterns, reduced sexual desire, increased smoking, drinking or drug use.
Feeling overwhelmed, difficulty making decisions, difficulty concentrating, feeling irritable or frustrated.
“I can’t cope.”
“This is all too much for me.’”
What is the treatment?
If you recognise feeling particularly stressed at the moment, it is important to take care to avoid further stressors, and try to take ‘extra care‘ of yourself.
• The first and most immediate thing you can do to help your stress levels is to stop what you are doing and to breathe slowly and deeply.
• Stretch or shake the tension out of your body.
• Remove yourself from your situation for a few minutes to do something different.
• Exercise regularly.
• Reduce your caffeine intake (in tea, coffee, cola drinks and chocolate).
• Be aware of increasing your use of alcohol and/or drugs.
• Adopt a regular sleep pattern Learn a relaxation technique that works for you (eg yoga, tai chi or listen to a relaxation CD from your GP).
• Try to find support through friends, family or local organisations.
• Use problem solving techniques to help overcome the main causes of stress.
Help is never far away.