Category : Stress

The Most Effective Ways To Deal With Stress

The world is filled with situations and problems that can cause stress.

Financial pressures, work pressures, emotional trauma, and family problems – the list goes on and on.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce how much these problems cause stress.

This post will explain why stress reduction is so important before sharing the most effective ways to deal with stress.

Why is it important to manage your stress levels?

Living with chronic stress can put your overall well-being at risk.

It can affect the way you think, how you relate to others, and can dramatically reduce how much enjoyment you get out of life.

Researchers have also found that stress can increase the risk of several serious diseases including obesity, depression, heart disease, and cancer.

It’s important to reduce your stress levels as soon as possible, so you can avoid these health complications — and get back to living a life you enjoy!

Effective ways to deal with stress

#1 – Identify the issues causing you stress

The first step to reducing the amount of stress in your life is to identify what is causing your stress.

Major stressors like pressure at work, frequent bills, and marital problems are easy to identify.

However, there may be other stressors that are more insidious, like a niggling health problem, negative self-talk, toxic friendships and so on.

In some cases, the issue you believe is causing you stress may not be the actual cause.

Let’s say you are stressed about deadlines at work.

Is it the deadline that is causing you stress or is the real cause how much you procrastinate each day? 

If your relationship with your partner is causing you stress, is it their fault or have you been neglectful somehow?

You may need to dig a little deeper to find the “real” cause of your stress. 

To find the real causes of your stress, you may need to reflect on your own attitude, habits, and beliefs.

One useful technique for doing so is a stress journal.

Use this journal to document:

  • How stressed you feel each day
  • What events trigger stress
  • How you react to stressful situations
  • How you feel each day (emotionally and physically)
  • What you can do better next time 

#2 – Alter or avoid stressful situations

After using your stress journal for a few weeks, you will have started to notice a few patterns.

Perhaps an incident at work or an encounter with a certain person increased your stress.

Perhaps your stress levels increased in a traffic jam or when another bill arrived.

Your next step will be to find clever ways to avoid or alter these stressful events.

Here are a few examples of fixes to common stress triggers:

Difficulty paying a bill

Is there an automated weekly payment plan you can use so the next bill won’t trigger as much stress?

Are there ways to reduce the size of the bill?

Can you save money elsewhere?

Can you make more money somehow?

Is financial assistance available?

A work deadline

Have you tried explaining to the boss that the deadline is unreasonable?

Are there any changes you can make at work to get more done each day?

Is help available from a colleague?

Can you reduce your workload in other ways, like delegating?

Someone stressed you out

Did a toxic friend borrow some money and didn’t repay it?

Were they constantly critical of you?

If they are causing you a lot of stress, reduce the time you spend with them or end the relationship.

#3 – Reframe the stressful situation

Another useful option is to simply change the way you perceive the stressful situation, a process called reframing.

Let’s say you are stuck in traffic.

Instead of screaming at other motorists or beeping your horn, use this is an opportunity to listen to a podcast or to relax with perform some deep breathing exercises.

#4 – Replace negative self talk with positive self talk

Everyone has an inner voice in their head.

Sometimes this inner voice can be overly critical of the things that you are doing, which increases your stress levels. 

Make a concerted effort to only speak to yourself in a positive way.

This article has some great tips for encouraging positive self talk. 

#5 – Participate in activities that reduce stress

There are many activities available which have been proven to reduce stress.

Some of the most effective include: 

  • Meditation
  • Exercise (an extremely stress buster)
  • Face-to-face time with loved ones
  • Getting more sleep
  • Relaxation techniques like deep breathing and mindfulness exercises
  • Practicing yoga or tai chi
  • Walking your dog
  • Dancing
  • Creating art (painting, drawing, sculpting etc)
  • Journaling your thoughts
  • Having more sex
  • Talking to a counsellor 

#6 – Improve your health

In addition to exercising more, focus on improving your health in other ways.

Avoid substances like caffeine, sugar, alcohol, drugs, and nicotine as they can worsen stress.

Eat a healthy diet that is filled with nutritious foods you enjoy and get at least 8 hours of sleep per night.

#7 – Improve your time management skills

A lack of time is one of the most common causes of stress.

When you are stretched thin, it can be difficult to look after both your professional and personal life, and stress begins to mount.

Fortunately, there are several ways to improve your time management skills and work-life balance:

Learn to say no

If other people are constantly asking you for favours which use up all of your time, learn to say no.

Don’t over-commit

Remember that there are only so many hours in the day.

Use todo lists and prioritise tasks

Decide which tasks are the most important and use todo lists to make sure they get done.

#8 – Use “Stress Stoppers”

A Stress Stopper is any technique you can apply to immediately reduce the impact of a stressful event.

These techniques are surprisingly effective and can prevent an annoying incident from causing stress and affecting your health.

Breathe

Take several deep breaths, breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.

As you do so, focus your attention on your bodily sensations, like the feeling of air entering your nostrils and your chest rising or falling.

Perform for several minutes.

Count

Whenever a frustrating or difficult situation that might lead to stress occurs, delay your initial response by counting to 10.

This helps you respond in a more thoughtful and measured way, which can reduce any stress associated with the encounter.

Walk

Simply walk away from a situation that is likely to trigger stress.

Go on a toilet break, grass a glass of water, or better yet – talk a short walk outside.

Analyse

Another useful option is to think about the problem you are confronted with in purely analytical terms.

Break down the problem into smaller chunks that are easier to manage.

This can turn a potentially stressful situation into something easy to manage.

Listen to music

Put your feet up and listen to some relaxing music a few minutes.

Use an affirmation

Affirmations are very handy for quickly changing your emotional state.

A positive affirmation like “My mind is becoming calm and clear” or “I gently release all my worries, doubts and fears” can be surprisingly effective at stopping stress.

Do some pushups

Exercise is an excellent stress stopper as it puts your attention on your body instead of your thoughts.

If you feel your stress levels rising, do some pushups, squats, or sit-ups.

I hope you found The Most Effective Ways To Deal With Stress useful.

Stay tuned for more articles on dealing with stress and improving your work-life balance.

Is Stress Causing You To Overeat?

You’ve had another hard day at work or at school. 

As soon as you get home, you reach for a candy bar, potato chips, or some other comfort food. 

While you might have been planning to have a little snack, before you know it, you have eaten all of the junk food in the house!

You might be surprised to discover that your junk food binge isn’t necessarily caused by a lack of impulse control or gluttony. 

Stress may be the culprit.

There is now a large body of research that indicates stress can contribute to overeating.

In this post, I’ll explain how stress can make you overeat and share a few strategies for avoiding this common problem.

What is stress?

Stress is a natural physiological response that occurs when you encounter a dangerous or challenging situation. 

When you encounter this kind of threatening situation, the adrenal glands will release several hormones including cortisol and adrenaline. 

These hormones prepare your body for action by: 

  • Making your senses more alert
  • Speeding up your heart rate and breathing
  • Tensing your muscles
  • Increasing your blood pressure
  • Pushing more glucose into the blood for energy
  • De-prioritising some non-essential bodily functions (like the metabolism of food)

A small amount of stress can be useful. 

It can help escape a burning building or deal with a looming deadline at work. 

However, constantly being stressed about things like electricity bills, traffic, relationship problems, or your physical appearance is not as useful. 

This type of stress, called chronic stress, can lead to a range of health problems including low energy, headaches, an upset stomach, chest pain, insomnia, and a compromised immune system. 

Chronic stress can also increase the risk of several illnesses like heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.

How stress causes overeating

Stress causes overeating in a number of ways, including:

High cortisol levels

If you have an acute stress response to a dangerous situation, your appetite is actually temporarily suppressed by adrenaline (also known as epinephrine). 

This is the hormone that is responsible for the additional alertness and energy you experience during that stressful event.

However, if you have chronic stress, cortisol begins to play a bigger role. 

Cortisol has been found to increase appetite and and the motivation to eat

If your stress levels never subside, you will be hungry more often and have an eagerness to overeat.

Unhealthy behaviours

People suffering from stress are more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviours like drinking excessive quantities of alcohol or failing to get enough sleep. 

Both of these unhealthy behaviours can affect the brain and increase the risk of overeating. 

Certain foods counteract the stress response

There is a reason why humans tend to reach for a fried foods, ice cream or chocolate when stressed. 

Foods that are high in sugar or fat are most effective at reducing the emotions and physical responses associated the stress. 

As a result, you are more likely to over-indulge in these kinds of food. 

Blood sugar levels

Acute stress increases blood sugar levels so you have additional energy available to run from (or fight) a perceived threat. 

This is the reason why people who have chronic stress for a number of years have a higher risk of contracting diabetes

Having high blood glucose will also make you thirsty, which can cause you to consume more calories than normal. 

How do you know if you are a stress eater?

There are several warning signs to look out for, including: 

  • Eating more to feel better about yourself
  • Eating despite not being hungry
  • Eating more after a stressful event or when feeling overwhelmed
  • Feeling that food gives you an immense amount of comfort

How to relieve stress without overeating

Fortunately, there are many effective ways to reduce stress levels without resorting to overeating. 

The most effective methods are: 

Exercise

Exercise has been scientifically proven to reduce stress by lowering stress hormone levels and producing higher levels of endorphins (feel good hormones). 

Simply incorporate 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise into your day to reduce your stress levels.

Practising mindfulness

Mindfulness is the practice of focussing your attention on the present while calming acknowledging any feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. 

It can be achieved through various activities including meditation, mindful colouring, and yoga

Mindfulness has been proven to reduce both anxiety and mental stress. 

Sleep

Getting plenty of sleep can relieve stress levels by reducing cortisol levels in your body. 

You should aim for a minimum of 7.5 hours of sleep every night. 

By relieving your stress levels with these techniques, you can reduce the likelihood of overeating — which will improve your physical and mental health in the long run. 

I hope you found Is Stress Causing You To Overeat? informative. 

For more articles on stress reduction, please bookmark the site!

5 Ways To Cope With Anxiety

It’s perfectly normal to feel worried every once in a while.

Most people will worry about everything from their performance at work to the quality of their relationships, and how big their bottom looks in a pair of jeans.

However, if you are constantly in an anxious state it can be quite overwhelming and have a negative impact on your life.

To help you deal with any anxiety you are feeling, this guide will list the 5 best ways to cope with anxiety.

These simple techniques will help you feel calmer and more in control of your life.

#1 – Learn your anxiety triggers

Most people who suffer from anxiety have specific triggers that cause the condition to worsen.

By understanding these common anxiety triggers, you will be able to determine which ones affect you the most.

You can then take action to reduce your exposure to the trigger or seek help to reduce its impact on your life.

Anxiety triggers include:

  •   Consumption of drugs and alcohol
  •   Stressful events like the loss of a job, financial problems, or the death of a loved one
  •   Physical or emotional abuse
  •   Family history of anxiety
  •   Health problems like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease
  •   Mental health conditions like depression
  •   Chronic pain
  •   Excessive consumption of caffeine
  •   Phobias including claustrophobia and agoraphobia
  •   Driving or traveling

It sometimes helps to keep a journal where you describe the activities that you performed each day, the foods you ate, how long you slept, who you talked to, and how anxious you felt.

This can help you find daily behaviours and activities that tend to worsen your anxiety.

#2 — Use activities proven to ease anxiety

There are many different activities that have been proven to effectively reduce anxiety.

Many of these activities are completely free and can be performed in your own home.

They include:

  •   Reading a good book or watching an entertaining movie
  •   Listening to music
  •   Praying
  •   Engaging in creative activities like singing, dancing, drawing, painting, and writing
  •   Cleaning and organising your home
  •   Exercising
  •   Being grateful for the things you have
  •   Spending time outdoors
  • Or in my case gardening, especially digging.

If you can turn several of these activities into daily habits, you will probably see a dramatic reduction in your anxiety symptoms.

#3 — Try Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can help you identify and change any self-destructive or unhealthy behaviours.

This form of therapy is based on the belief that all behaviours are learned and can be changed.

It is very affective at treating anxiety and will teach you to be more compassionate and less critical of yourself.

Speak to your doctor to learn more about CBT and how it can help you manage your anxiety.

#4 — Focus on other people

One of the best tactics for eliminating anxious thoughts is to shift your focus onto other people by volunteering.

When you are helping others, you won’t be living in your head and thinking about the issues which cause you anxiety.

You will be too busy helping people (or animals) in need.

Volunteering also has other benefits for your mental and physical health.

You will form new friendships, gain more life satisfaction, feel happier, and be physically healthier by being more active.

#5 — Meditate regularly

Meditation has been scientifically proven to reduce stress and anxiety.

It works by changing how your brain responds to anxious thoughts and emotions.

Regular meditation practice will calm your mind and give you more control over how you process incoming thoughts.

All of those random anxious thoughts you experience will become less frequent and easier to control.

Read this article to learn more about mindfulness meditation.

Thanks for reading 5 Ways To Cope With Anxiety.

For more articles on managing your anxiety and dealing with stress, subscribe to the website.

Best for me was, if you are worrying about something, ask yourself, can I do anything about it?

If yes, do it.

If no, stop worrying, there is nothing you can do to change things and 99 times out of 100, there is nothing to worry about.

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?’

For more information on stress and how you can manage it, stay tuned to the blog or follow us on social media.

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.