Category : Stress

Stress – Why Does It Happen And How Can We Manage It?

A recent survey found that about one in 10 people living in the United Kingdom “feel stressed all of the time”.

Other surveys have reported that 3 in 4 UK citizens have felt so stressed within the past year that they were “unable to cope”.

Stress is clearly a widespread issue within the United Kingdom.

It is also an issue that must be addressed as quickly as possible because it can have a dramatic impact on a person’s quality of life — adversely affecting both their physical and mental well-being.

This guide will explain why stress happens and how it can be managed.

These simple tips will help you deal with the stress you experience before it can negatively impact your life.

What is stress?

When a person encounters a perceived threat (real or imagined, physical or mental), the body’s stress response is triggered.

The stress response causes a cascade of physiological changes including:

  • Cortisol, adrenaline, epinephrine, noradrenaline, and other “stress hormones” are released to increase alertness and reaction time
  • Breathing becomes rapid and shallow
  • Heart rate and blood pressure increase (as a result of the release of stress hormones)
  • Glucose is released into the bloodstream for energy
  • Muscles become tense
  • The way you think changes, with certain parts of the brain becoming more active
  • Certain bodily functions are deprioritised, including metabolic functions and the digestion of food

The changes made to the body by stress isn’t always a bad thing.

They can help you escape dangerous situations or give you additional mental and physical energy for performing under pressure.

However, stress should be a temporary state of being.

When a life-threatening and stressful situation passes, the body should return to normal and you should feel calm again.

Stress only becomes dangerous when you spend a significant amount of time in a stressed state.

Unfortunately, many people living in the UK experience stress from issues that aren’t life threatening.

They include money concerns, problems at work, health concerns, failure to get enough sleep, and household chores.

Being stressed about these daily events can quite exhausting for the body and can trigger a range of side effects including:

  •   Tension headaches, migraines, and bodily aches (caused by the body tensing up)
  •   Chest pain (caused by overstimulation and stress hormones)
  •   Fatigue (cause by over stimulation of adrenal glands)
  •   Sleep problems (primarily caused by excessive adrenaline levels)
  •   Upset stomach
  •   Anxiety
  •   Lack of focus (caused by changes to the brain during stress)
  •   Irritability/anger

Stress can also cause a person to change their behaviour.

They may begin to overeat or undereat, abuse drugs and alcohol, become socially withdrawn, or develop bad habits.

Side effects

Eventually, the side effects of being constantly stressed can lead to some very serious chronic health problems including:

Diabetes

The stress response increases blood sugar levels so you have additional energy to escape a threat.

Unfortunately, constantly having elevated blood sugar can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Obesity

High blood sugar levels can increase the likelihood of obesity.

The stress response also changes how food is metabolised and deprioritises digestive functions, which can also cause weight gain.

Heart disease

The changes made to the body caused by stress have been shown to contribute to high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, and other risk factors for having heart disease.

Anxiety and depression

Stress is linked with a range of mental illnesses including anxiety and depression.

Asthma

Asthma can be worsened by chronic stress.

How can you manage stress?

Fortunately, there are many techniques available which have been proven to effectively reduce stress.

Some of the best techniques include:

Socialising with friends and family

Spending time with friends and family is an excellent way to reduce your stress levels.

Face-to-face conversations are useful because they can trigger hormones that relieve the symptoms of stress.

Conversations with loved ones can also help you discuss any feelings that are causing you to become stressed.

If your relationships are causing you stress, seek out connections with other people by joining a club or sporting group.

Exercise

Exercise has been proven to reduce stress levels.

When you exercise, the body release endorphins — a mild analgesic to numb any pain you are experiencing.

Endorphins will give you a pleasant feeling that can ease the symptoms of stress.

Researchers also believe that endorphins mediate adrenaline and glucagon release that occurs during stress.

Exercising regularly will also boost your mood and counteract the anxiety and negative feelings associated with stress.

Relaxation techniques

Another excellent antidote to the alertness and anxiety caused by stress is to spend more time relaxing.  

Relaxation techniques including meditation, yoga, tai chi, and massage therapy are all proven to relieve the symptoms of stress.

As an added bonus, these techniques can also help you avoid or manage other chronic illnesses like insomnia, heart disease, asthma, depression, high blood pressure, and post traumatic stress disorder.

Set aside time for hobbies

Even if you lead a very busy life, it is important to set aside some time each day for your hobbies.

The hobbies for reducing stress are ones that require you to be active.

Spend your spare time on hobbies like painting, reading, talking, and doing things instead of simply watching television or playing video games.

Eat a healthy diet

The food that you eat can affect how stressed you become.

A diet high in caffeine, sugar and processed foods can worsen stress significantly.

Conversely, a diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, legumes, nuts, fish, and lean meat can reduce the symptoms of stress.

Get plenty of sleep

The human body uses the time you spend sleeping to perform some important biological processes.

This includes the removal of waste, digestions of food, and balancing of hormones.

Some of these process can help to reduce your stress levels, so get plenty of sleep (ideally 7 to 8 hours per night).

Thanks for reading ‘Stress – Why Does It Happen And How Can We Manage It?’

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Tips For Coping With Stress At Work

It can be easy for stress to build up in all lines of work, whether you work in an office, shop or factory.

Sometimes your workload can get on top of you, deadlines can start to creep up more often and things can just become too much.

It’s important to realise that your health and wellbeing are always top priority and there are things you can do to reduce the amount of stress you feel at work.

Hopefully you’ll find something to relate to in our list of top tips, so you can finally deal with the stress building up.

Identify your stress triggers

If you find yourself getting stressed and you’re not sure exactly why then it can help to monitor your activities and identify the things that are triggering your stress.

Keeping a journal or log is a great way to do this.

You will be much better equipped to deal with stress at work if you think more about what is actually stressing you out.

Recording your thoughts, ideas and emotions is also a great venting system that lets you get things off your chest without confrontation.

Take a break

When the stress starts to build up it can feel overwhelming and if you leave it too long you could be heading towards a full-blown meltdown.

This is not good for anyone so it’s important to give your brain chance to relax.

It’s a good idea to talk to your manager or supervisor and request some time off or organise a system that allows you to take a break when you are feeling overwhelmed.

Relaxation exercises

There are plenty of exercises and activities you can do outside of work to help keep your stress levels down and maintain a level head.

Going for a run is a good way to clear your head and burn off any excess energy.

Other things such as yoga or meditation can also help to relax both your body and mind.

Support

If you find that your stress is manifesting itself physically or causing mental health issues then it’s very important to seek help and not let the stress build.

Work-related stress is a common cause of things like migraines and anxiety, which can be helped by getting support from doctors or councillors.

Make a change

Sometimes there’s no quick fix or solution and it may be the case that you just need to make a change in your life.

It’s not a smart idea to make any rash decisions but if you are truly unhappy then perhaps a total change of pace may be the best way to escape your stress.

Is Your Job Killing You? 5 Types Of Work-Related Stress

It can be hard getting up early to drag yourself to work for the early morning grind and everyone working a 9-5 feels your pain.

But have you been thinking lately that your job really isn’t good for your health?

If you find yourself fighting a constant uphill battle then you may be suffering from serious work-related stress.

You may feel like you’re being underappreciated or that you are simply unmotivated by the work you do and you need to be challenged more creatively.

There are many different situations that can cause high amounts of stress but perhaps one of these stress profiles is a match for you?

Overworked

As soon as you clock in, you’re straight to the grindstone.

You work furiously trying to meet strict deadlines until the end of the day when you’re the last one to leave.

Not only is the workload heavy but you don’t get any say in your schedule or the type of work you get assigned.

Undervalued

After working your fingers to the bone for weeks on end you get little more than an email confirming the deadline has been met.

You spend a lot of time and effort completing work only for people above you to take the credit and reap the benefits.

Lonely

You feel like you’re carrying a big burden on your shoulders and no one is willing to help.

Your work is piling up and although you need a hand trying to complete tasks or improve, your manager and co-workers refuse to help out.

When you need assistance or training on a particular topic you don’t feel supported in your role.

Punching bag

Perhaps you work in retail or a service role.

You are often the victim of abusive or rude customers. But the customer is always right, right?

You get no support or reassurance from your superiors, instead you’re made to accept the abuse and still carry out your heavy workload.

Burnout

You find yourself perpetually tired, both mentally and physically.

You feel as though there isn’t enough sleep in the world that can bring you out of your slump.

The stress is building and you feel like at any minute you’re on the brink of a breakdown.

You may fall into one or more of these categories, which is the first step to realising that you need to make a change.

Don’t feel like there’s nothing to be done, stay positive.

Be sure to check out our guide on dealing with work-related stress so you can start to feel better and make the changes you need.