We’ve come to accept that stress is an unavoidable part of our daily lives. The most common causes of stress include personal finances, work, relationship strains and worry about weight.
Adults choose to deal with stress in a variety of ways ranging from taking time out (40%), talking with family and friends (40%), eating chocolates, sweets and fatty foods (20%) and taking natural supplements (5%). An alarming 15% of people who suffer from stress don’t do anything to support their wellbeing.
Below is an easy guide to recognising the symptoms of stress, the things that make us stressed and some easy ways to start managing stress.
What is stress?
We are all familiar with stress. Stress is a normal response that we experience to some extent every day. A certain level of stress is necessary to not only function but to reach our full potential. Too much stress, however, can be a health hazard. The first important step in stress management involves being aware of when our stress levels have become unhealthy. Once stress overload is recognised, there is a range of stress management skills available to address the problem.
Eat well – When we experience stress our bodies use up enormous amounts of vitamins and minerals. The depletion of our body’s nutrients can leave us tired, run-down, irritable and less able to deal with our responsibilities. Vitamins C and B complex, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc are the hardest hit nutrients. These can be restored through a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy products, nuts, yeast, brown rice, fish, liver, kelp and eggs. Sometimes the foods that we reach for when stressed are the foods that interfere with our body’s ability to absorb vitamins and minerals and therefore compound the amount of stress experienced. Foods to avoid when stressed include tea, coffee, cakes, biscuits, soft drinks, chocolate and white bread.
Exercise – Physical exercise is invaluable in releasing tension and assist in the processing of vitamins and minerals. It releases endorphins into your body that will make you feel better about yourself and in better control of your situation.
Manage your time – We can reduce the amount of stress we experience by using our time and energy efficiently. A realistic list of things to do for the day is a good start. Allow ample time to complete things on your list. It is important to acknowledge that you can only do so much in a given period of time. Setting priorities and learning to slow down are essential ingredients in reducing your level of stress.
Talk to someone – We often cope better with our problems and life stresses by talking to and sharing our feelings with other people. This may be as simple as talking to your partner, best friend or seeking help from a health professional to help you manage your stress levels.
Mindfulness – Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment—and accepting it without judgment. Mindfulness is now being examined scientifically and has been found to be a key element in stress reduction and overall happiness.
If you feel that your stress levels are increasingly hard to manage other options include: