It is said that the only people to be without stress are those that reside in the cemetery.
Having said that, stress tolerance is a major contributing factor to most individuals that are consistently successful in life.
Stress is manifested in two main areas:
- Physical stress – includes things like, but not limited to, injury, infection, muscular fatigue etc.
- Psychological stress – includes frustration, financial worries, fear of failing, etc.
No matter what the cause is, there are always physiological responses within the body that will cause the autonomic nervous system to prepare us for “fight or flight”.
Your personality types dictate the various ways you display stress and whenever you get into situations that get the heart racing, sweaty palms or headaches accompanied by a stiff or aching neck, then you are exhibiting classic physical symptoms of stress.
Behavioural signs could include aggression, anxiety, irritability and mood swings just to name a few.
We all “live in our heads” and by that I mean stress levels are very dependant on what we perceive the threat or situation to be. Once a threat is felt, there are various chemicals that are excreted via commands from the brain and in the long term, could be good or bad for you depending on the type of stress. A good stress is called eustress and bad stress is distress.
Illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, asthma and skin disorders have shown to be caused or linked to stress. To alleviate stress, it is recommended that a “Lifestyle Management” plan be put in place and should include techniques to deal with problems such as emotional management, cognitive restructuring and stress resistance.
Four common areas of stress include:
- Relationships of a personal nature.
- Work demands.
- Career prospects
In order to manage stress effectively one would need to acknowledge or recognise the source of the stress and establish how to deal with negative or bad stress in the physical, mental and emotional areas. Here are few basic management tips:
- Get to know what type of personality do you have. Do a reliable personality test. The best way to do this is to visit a psychologist or trained professional. Sometimes, we are not who we think we are.
- Get a sense of control over your life and develop a social network of friends and family, avoiding negative people.
- Develop a structured system and make a commitment.
- Don’t take the load of everything on yourself – share the burden and learn to delegate.
- Get organised – a failure to plan is a plan to fail. Setting up a proper schedule will reduce pressure and give a clearer picture of the task at hand.
- Look around you for sound advice from someone you respect. When you are the fish in the fish bowl your view is very different to that of an observer on the outside.
- Be pro active in enhancing your health and develop a fitness and nutritional plan. Your brain will not function properly if you do not look after yourself physically and vice-versa. Feed the brain and body what is needed and find some form of physical activity that is enjoyable. Alcohol, drugs and smoking may deal with the symptoms and not the cause bringing shortterm solutions, but ultimately, delivering ill health, suffering and even death.
- Find a leisure activity and take time out on a regular basis to recharge those batteries. A relaxing walk on the beach, a visit to a wildlife reserve, listening to some relaxing music or enjoying a beautiful sunset can benefit the body as well as the soul.
The reality of stress cannot be avoided, but it is how we handle that stress that determines our quality of life.