What is stress? The term stress applies to force applied to something. Anything that exerts pressure on your mind, body, or spirit is linked to stress. Some folks thrive under pressure and others find it eats away at their peace of mind. If unbalanced stress can cause symptoms such as:
- Being jumpy
- Crying easily
- Having more aches and pains
- Increased heart rate
- Digestive problems
- Changes in appetite
Chronic stress may be linked to depression, anxiety or it may be situational. Some causes of stress are related to the pandemic, a lack of work-life balance, or ill health for example. Studies have shown that stressed people tend to not exercise and eat as well as they should (Wheeler 2007). They may even smoke more. This means high levels of stress hormones trigger bad habits and in time ill health. Thus, we must do things to intervene in our best interest. Ask yourself, can I change my exposure to stress? Can I say no to excessive demands? Are my worries productive (solution-focused) or nonproductive (creating anxiety and catastrophizing)?
Become aware of your stress. What are your main thoughts? What are you doing when you are stressed that doesn’t serve you? Stress may trigger you to engage in avoidant behaviours. These are things that keep you from dealing with issues head-on such as sleeping, smoking, eating, drinking, or working too much. Faulty thinking can cause people to catastrophize or make negative predictions. Listen to what your inner is saying. If it is causing you stress, is there any other way of thinking about what is happening? To create other thoughts, you can simply brainstorm alternative solutions or just state the opposite. See what suits you. When we are more flexible with our thoughts and thinking about other possibilities it can improve our mood, promote positive possibilities and reduce stress levels.
If we do not control our minds and take care of ourselves, stress can pull us in all directions. We must examine the nature of our stress and its reaction within us. Think about if we can control the situation to reduce stress. If we cannot, can we change our thoughts about the situation causing the stress? We may need to support ourselves physically to reduce stress levels such as exercising, meditation, getting fresh air, and deep breathing.
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