IDENTIFY THE SOURCE
Stress is a shadow that wraps its victims in a tight hold, so identifying the cause, then directing the negativity, is crucial. In order to deal with the signs of stress, like anxiety, they must first be recognized. The following is a list of the most common indicators of anxiety and stress:
- Unable to concentrate
- Lack of interest at work
- Decreased libido
- Overeating or lack of appetite
- Palpitations/chest pain
- Aches and pains
- Excessive sweating
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling out of control
If three or more signs are identified, visiting a physician is recommended. Understanding the reason for the cause of the stress will help with the solution:
- Dealing with grief
- Long hours at work
- Disliking your job
- Going through a divorce
- Generally unhappy
- Past or childhood experiences
- Being abused or bullied
STEPS TO TAKE
Once focusing on the source of the stress, eliminating the angst will be easier. If suffering from mild stress and anxiety, the following steps may help:
- Exercise at least 15 minutes a day. This will not resolve the problem but will help clear the head to think clearly.
- Talk to someone trustworthy
- Take time for breathing exercises (Harvard health)
- Keep a diary. This will help spot symptoms and triggers.
- Manage your time and allocate tasks, don’t do it all.
- Set challenges and be proactive. An example of this would be to start a new hobby, go and meet friends, or change your job.
- Avoid unhealthy choices like too much alcohol consumption. Alcohol may mask the actual trigger.
Stress and anxiety often go hand in hand, with anxiety being the physical symptom of stress. If self managing stress has become too difficult, visiting a physician is crucial. There is growing evidence that stress and other psychological disorders are linked with certain illness. The National Heart Foundation of Australia suggests there is consistent evidence linking stress and heart disease. There are many recent reviews trying to define what area of stress versus people’s general health and lifestyle will affect the probability of a person developing the disease.
HOW TO COPE WITH ANXIETY
Anxiety triggers our nervous system into biological change, where adrenaline takes over the breathing and the heart rate elevates. This change is called the fight or flight response, which is in a human’s disposition, dating back thousands of years to a time where escaping true life emergencies were common. In order to calm this response, the following techniques may help:
- Diaphragmatic breathing is a method of deep breathing to lower the heart rate by contracting the diaphragm, a muscle just above the stomach cavity. Breath in through the nose and let the stomach rise, not the chest. (Harvard Health Deep Breathing)
- Relax muscles. Stress and anxiety can make the muscles tighten, so exercise like Pilates and Yoga may help combat this. Stretching out the muscles will also help relieve any tension buildup.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
- Get more sleep. Make time to wind down by reading a book or listening to soothing music. Setting a regular bedtime and alarm for the morning will get the body into a routine.
- Do at least 15 minutes of exercise daily
Taking time out from a hectic lifestyle will enable reassessment and action. If suffering from stress and anxiety, seek advice from a physician who can recommend support groups or even a psychologist. There are some fantastic groups on the internet too (please see resources). Many are fighting the stress battle and are taking control of their lives once more. So speak up and don’t be ashamed, there are methods and help out there. It is simply a matter of reaching for it.
For more articles on stress, anxiety and mental health, check out GetThrive.com