“Stress is when you wake up screaming and you realise that you haven’t fallen asleep yet” - Unknown
Ever felt like screaming? I sure have and according to statistics I’m not the only one. In fact stress has accounted for 37% of all work related ill health cases in 2015/2016. Stress can come from any situation that makes you feel frustrated, angry or anxious. We will all feel stress in varying degrees.
You could be on overdrive and burning the candle at both ends. You might be experiencing emotional stress involving an interpersonal conflict of some type. You could be tackling an illness of your own or a significant other in your life. Stressors in our lives can be relationships, finance, environment and health. These are often interrelated. What are your stressors?
When stress is upon us it presents common symptoms. There are psychological changes. This may present as depression or anxiety. An inability to concentrate is also common. This results in difficulty with time management and learning skills. There are physiological changes. Stress can be responsible for sleep disturbances such as insomnia. Stress can also be the cause of sexual dysfunction which could manifest in lack of libido.
Because in reaction to any stress our adrenal glands produce the hormone cortisol. The stress fighting hormone which gets us ready for conflict. This upsets the balance of our neurotransmitters. Increased stress affects serotonin. This controls our ability to have a restful sleep and sets our body clock. Whilst the cortisol prevents the wind-down when it is time to rest. Serotonin is also thought to affect our mood, memory, appetite and sexual desire. Dopamine acts as our motivator, endorphins as our natural pain killers. Both are also affected by increased stress.
So how are you coping right now? Are you getting a hold of stress? Or is stress running you down?
We all have our own pick me ups. Yours might be sugar. It could be caffeine. It might be alcohol. Now while in the first instance these may feed your desire; this is short term. Sugar leads to a surge in our blood sugar levels followed by a rapid drop producing feelings of weakness. Caffeine in small amounts is a mood lifter but too much raises cortisol. Alcohol when used in moderation may make us feel less tense. But regular drinking interferes with the quality of your sleep.
So what CAN help?
Eating the right foods and getting the right amount of sleep can help. Most bedrooms have alarm clocks which already implies our deprivation of sleep! You could combat this with an early night (yeah right) or at least an earlier night! Exercise can help reducing stress. It gives us an outlet for suppressed energies created by stress. Relaxation can serve as a natural treatment for anxieties. It changes our brain wave pattern, reduces heart rate and blood pressure.
So how do you like to relax? Can you even remember?!
Is it having a long walk? Is it having a long soak in the bath? Or reading a good book? All great ways of relaxing. Breathing and visualisation can also be a great benefit.
Find a coping strategy that teaches you to deal with your stress in a productive way. Be open to talk about your stress. Understanding it means you can assimilate it in a rational way. Take a step back, take a few deep breaths and assess the situation. Organise thoughts into a positive and constructive pattern. Mentally prepare your course of action.
-If you’re interested in finding out how Less Ordinary Therapy can help please get in touch. You can book a complimentary 30 minute Skype consultation with me. During the call you can ask any questions you may have. Sign up for your call here. I look forward to hearing from you and exploring how I can support you.