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dealing with stress

dealing with stress

when you’re under too much mental or emotional pressure, you might feel overwhelmed with stress

Do you ever feel like the weight of the world is resting on your shoulders? You’re not alone. Around 3 in 5 Scottish people deal with anxiety that makes it hard for them to go about their daily routines.

While stress is a natural response to life’s challenges, it’s essential to recognise that prolonged or chronic stress can take a toll on your mental health and could even lead to anxiety. 

Stress is a common experience that can make you feel like you’re carrying too much mental or emotional burden. It can affect anyone at any stage of life. Whether you’re grappling with work-related pressures, personal issues or uncertainty, stress can creep into your life. The impact of stress can vary from person to person and only you can truly gauge how you experience your own stress. 

Common myths about stress

stress only affects
your body
 

Stress doesn’t just mess with your body; it also affects your mind.
It can lead to various health problems, like anxiety and
depression. 

stress is always
harmful
 

Stress isn’t always bad. Some stress can be motivating and improve performance. It’s the long-lasting, unmanaged stress that’s harmful. 

eliminating stress
is the goal
 

Instead of eliminating stress, it’s about managing it. A little stress is necessary for personal growth and resilience.

The key is learning to handle it better. 

Causes of stress

Stress can result from a wide range of factors and what causes stress is different for each of us. Here are some common causes of stress:

  • You might be experiencing  money worries.
  • You might be stressed with work. 
  • You might experience family or relationship problems.
  • You might be worried about what’s happening on the news. 
  • You might be burning out. 
  • You might be going through major life changes.
  • You might be a student experiencing academic stress.
  • You might experience stress after a traumatic event, a condition known as PTSD. 

Symptoms of stress

Stress can manifest in various ways and its symptoms can be different for everyone. Here are some common symptoms:

Physical 

Physically, stress can really hit you. You could get pounding headaches, muscle aches, or just feel super tired all the time. You might find yourself tossing and turning or not sleeping enough. And your stomach might start acting up, causing tummy troubles. Some people stress-eat, others lose their appetite. Your heart might race, you could get sweaty palms and dizziness might make an appearance.

Emotional 

Emotionally, stress can make you feel super anxious – like your heart’s in your throat. You might worry a lot or just feel plain nervous. Sometimes, it can even lead to a low mood, where nothing seems to lift your spirits. You might get pretty irritable or have mood swings. It’s like a rollercoaster ride of emotions and it can be overwhelming. Plus, you might start to feel a bit isolated and withdrawn from people.

Behavioural 

Behaviour-wise, you might start avoiding doing things and procrastinating. Some people turn to substances to cope. Nervous habits can pop up – nail-biting or pacing, among many. You might withdraw from social activities and sometimes, things escalate into arguments or conflicts with people around you.

Cognitive 

In your head, stress messes with your thoughts. It’s like having a thousand thoughts buzzing around all at once and they’re not happy thoughts. Making decisions might get tough. You might make impulsive calls and your inner critic becomes a bit too loud. 

Managing stress and its symptoms

If you are experiencing symptoms of stress, there are many activities you can do to reduce the feelings. It is important to recognise the symptoms of stress and take the necessary steps to ensure your wellbeing.

  • Establish your priorities: Balancing competing priorities can cause stress and impact your mental health. List all your tasks and prioritise them, then you can gradually work through the list. Being able to see your priorities visually may reduce some of the anxiety around them, too.
  • Practising mindfulness and meditation: Those practices can reduce stress by calming the mind. Focusing on the present can break the cycle of anxious thoughts and promote inner peace.
  • Healthy eating habits: A balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins can regulate mood and energy levels. Avoiding excessive caffeine and sugar can help reduce stress and mood swings.
  • Social connections: Cultivate and nurture your relationships. Spending time with friends and loved ones provides emotional support and a sense of belonging, reducing feelings of isolation and stress. Talking to someone you trust about how you feel is invaluable. Confide in trusted loved ones about your experiences and emotions through a short conversation, letter, or text message.
  • Get enough sleep: Prioritise quality sleep to allow your body and mind to recover. A well-rested body is better equipped to handle stress.
  • Spend time exercising or outdoors: Going outside and exercising boosts endorphins and helps put things into perspective. You don’t have to do any strenuous exercise, even a short walk around your local park will work towards reducing symptoms of stress.
  • Focus on breathing:  Take a moment to breathe. Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose while counting to four, hold for four counts then exhale through your mouth, counting to four again. This simple technique called square breathing can help alleviate stress and promote relaxation.
  • Make time for hobbies: Managing stress can be all-consuming, make sure you set time aside to do something that only makes you happy and improves your wellbeing. If you can’t think of anything, you could join a local club, read a good book, or make something delicious in the kitchen.
  • Accept the things out of your control: It’s not always possible to change a difficult situation. Accepting that life is unpredictable and out of control allows us to move forward. Instead, focus on the things we can control.

Explore different techniques to discover what works best for you. Combining a mix of these strategies can help you navigate life’s challenges with resilience and to better cope with stress. If stress overwhelms you, don’t hesitate to seek support.

support

Our Advice and Support Service is open Monday to Friday, 10 am to 4 pm, where advisers can signpost you to local support that most fits your needs, including our own Change Mental Health services. We offer initial advice on money worries and help to deal with emergencies.

Contact 0808 8010 515, email us at advice@changemh.org or fill out the enquiry form on the Advice and Support Service page.

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