Do you feel anxious and nervous? Moody and irritable for no apparent reason? Are you experiencing chest pain or general body pain? Loss of sleep and tired all the time? You may be experiencing the well-known condition called ‘stress’.
Yes, a lot of people casually throw the word around in conversation (guilty). But we shouldn’t underestimate the condition. At any given point in in our lives, we are bound to face challenging or extraordinary pressures which would likely trigger stress responses.
Some people welcome stress as it motivates them to produce some of their best work. The truth is many people find it difficult to manage stress which can lead to chronic stress. Left untreated, it can cause depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, heart disease, digestive problems and many other serious conditions.
If you find yourself overwhelmed at work, at home or at school, do not beat yourself up too much. What you need to do is find out what stresses you out and adopt a healthy way to destress daily.
How to cope with stress
1. Recognise the symptoms: the first step is to recognise symptoms of stress. Some symptoms include anxious thoughts, lack of concentration, chest pain, diarrhoea, nausea, feelings of depression, moodiness, loss of appetite, tired, loss of sleep etc. It is not advisable to diagnose yourself as some symptoms may also be due to other factors. If you are unsure, you should consult with a physician.
2. Identify the problem: You need to be conscious of the factors causing you stress in your daily life. Are you overworking or working under tight deadlines? Facing pressures to succeed in school or perform well for exams? Are you having relationship problems at home? Are you struggling with your finances? Has there been a sudden change in your life? If you are not sure what is causing you stress, you can consider speaking with someone you trust. It can be a professional, a family, a friend or someone from your community group.
3. Tackle the problem head on: If you have identified the cause of your stress, you can get started by addressing the issue head on. There is no point in wallowing in misery for much longer. Depending on what causes you to stress, how you tackle the issue would be different. Again, you need to seek help if you do not know what to do. There is no shame in asking for help and you will likely find yourself a new network of support if you welcome it.
4. Change your lifestyle: Whether it be at home or at work, make the right changes and adopt a healthier approach to life. You need to ensure that the lifestyle you are engaged in, is one you want to be in. Exercise, eat healthy and meditate. Go for a swim, cycle around or go on a nature walk. You need to find a perfect balance between work, study and family.
5. Adopt a relaxation technique: At some point, stress can lead to anxiety (panic) attacks. You need to identify a relaxation technique which would help to soothe you down. Your first panic attack is always the scariest. After that, learn to identify the signs early on and commence your relaxation technique before the attack is fully blown. You can share your technique with someone and they can practice it with you before an episode.
Remember, this is not a comprehensive guide to tackling chronic stress or other mental health issues. It also does not address depression which is a completely different condition. The one important thing you need to remember is that you are not less than if you find yourself unable to cope. Make sure you reach out and get the help you need. Mental health is just as important as physical health. A healthy life makes for a happy life.