I came across this article recently in Word for Today and it really made me think about stress and how I am dealing with it.
Answer the following ten questions honestly.
1) Are you sometimes grumpy without knowing why?
2) Do you work hard but feel unappreciated?
3) Do you feel guilty and unproductive when you’re caught relaxing?
4) Do you increasingly find yourself shouting to make your point instead of talking calmly?
5) Can you remember the last time you laughed till you cried?
6) Are you exhausted after a day off because of all the chores you had to do?
7) Do you tend to eat more when you’re tense or overwhelmed?
8) Are you constantly on the defensive?
9) Do you suffer from unexplained headaches and stomach aches?
10) Does your to-do list have footnotes?
So, how did you do on the test? Are you surprised? If you’re tuned in to yourself, you shouldn’t be. The symptoms of stress overload don’t appear overnight.
When your computer starts freezing up, you know it’s time to turn it off and reboot. When a warning light flashes on the dashboard of your car, you wouldn’t dream of ignoring it. When the clock starts losing time, you know it’s time to change the batteries!
The bottom line is: if you continue to ignore the warning signs, stress will eventually take its toll on your health.
Work on controlling your reactions. Stop losing your peace over every little thing that goes wrong in your life. When there’s nothing you can do about the situation, learn let it go, and keep your joy.
A silent killer
Stress is a silent killer which creeps up on us and before we know it we are being affected both mentally and physically.
Here are some of the symptoms of stress:
Emotional symptoms of stress include:
- Becoming easily agitated, frustrated, and moody
- Feeling overwhelmed, like you are losing control or need to take control
- Having difficulty relaxing and quieting your mind
- Feeling bad about yourself (low self-esteem), lonely, worthless, and depressed
- Avoiding others
Physical symptoms of stress include:
- Low energy
- Upset stomach, including diarrhoea, constipation, and nausea
- Aches, pains, and tense muscles
- Chest pain and rapid heartbeat
- Frequent colds and infections
- Loss of sexual desire and/or ability
- Nervousness and shaking, ringing in the ear, cold or sweaty hands and feet
- Dry mouth and difficulty swallowing
- Clenched jaw and grinding teeth
Cognitive symptoms of stress include:
- Constant worrying
- Racing thoughts
- Forgetfulness and disorganization
- Inability to focus
- Poor judgment
- Being pessimistic or seeing only the negative side
Behavioural symptoms of stress include:
- Changes in appetite — either not eating or eating too much
- Procrastinating and avoiding responsibilities
- Increased use of alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes
- Exhibiting more nervous behaviours, such as nail biting, fidgeting, and pacing
What Are the Consequences of Long-Term Stress?
A little stress every now and then is not something to be concerned about. Ongoing, chronic stress, however, can cause or exacerbate many serious health problems, including:
- Mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and personality disorders
- Cardiovascular disease, including heart disease, high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, heart attacks, and stroke
- Obesity and other eating disorders
- Menstrual problems
- Sexual dysfunction, such as impotence in men and loss of sexual desire in both men and women
- Skin and hair problems, such as acne, psoriasis, and eczema, and permanent hair loss
- Gastrointestinal problems, such as GERD, gastritis, ulcerative colitis, and irritable colon
Help Is Available for Stress
Stress is a part of life. What matters most is how you handle it. The best thing you can do to prevent stress overload and the health consequences that come with it is to know your stress symptoms.
If you or a loved one is feeling overwhelmed by stress, talk to your doctor. Many symptoms of stress can also be signs of other health problems. Your doctor can evaluate your symptoms and rule out other conditions. If stress is to blame, your doctor can recommend a therapist or counsellor to help you better handle your stress.
Breathing can help
Take a deep breath in. Now let it out. You may notice a difference in how you feel already. Your breath is a powerful tool to ease stress and make you feel less anxious. Some simple breathing exercises can make a big difference if you make them part of your regular routine.
Before you get started, keep these tips in mind:
- Choose a place to do your breathing exercise. It could be in your bed, on your living room floor, or in a comfortable chair.
- Don’t force it. This can make you feel more stressed.
- Try to do it at the same time once or twice a day.
- Wear comfortable clothes.
- Many breathing exercises take only a few minutes. When you have more time, you can do them for 10 minutes or more to get even greater benefits.
Most people take short, shallow breaths into their chest. It can make you feel anxious and zap your energy. With this technique, you’ll learn how to take bigger breaths, all the way into your belly.
- Get comfortable. You can lie on your back in bed or on the floor with a pillow under your head and knees. Or you can sit in a chair with your shoulders, head, and neck supported against the back of the chair.
- Breathe in through your nose. Let your belly fill with air.
- Breathe out through your nose.
- Place one hand on your belly. Place the other hand on your chest.
- As you breathe in, feel your belly rise. As you breathe out, feel your belly lower. The hand on your belly should move more than the one that’s on your chest.
- Take three more full, deep breaths. Breathe fully into your belly as it rises and falls with your breath.
While you do deep breathing, use a picture in your mind and a word or phrase to help you feel more relaxed.
- Close your eyes if they’re open.
- Take a few big, deep breaths.
- Breathe in. As you do that, imagine that the air is filled with a sense of peace and calm. Try to feel it throughout your body.
- Breathe out. While you’re doing it, imagine that the air leaves with your stress and tension.
- Now use a word or phrase with your breath. As you breathe in, say in your mind, “I breathe in peace and calm.”
- As you breathe out, say in your mind, “I breathe out stress and tension.”
- Continue for 10 to 20 minutes.
Thoughts for the week:
- How did you do with the questions?
- Have you spotted signs of stress?
- If you have this week use the breathing technique.
- Do this several times a day and observe how this helps.
Well that’ it for this week have a wonderful weekend and focus on the positive.