How to deal with stress

There are many things one can do to cope with<br />stress in the most effective ways possible.There are many things one can do to cope with
stress in the most effective ways possible.

The word stress has many connotations and meanings but it always refers to a period of time or a situation when people feel pressured under particular circumstances.

The true meaning of the word stress is being under substantial psychological or emotional pressure. Pressure becomes stress when people become overwhelm­ed and feel they are incapable of coping. People may have different ways of countering and reacting to stress. A particular event might be stressful to one person and motivating or challenging to another.

Most of life’s circumstances and requirements can cause stress, such as work, family responsibilities, relationships and financial issues. When feeling stressed, your perceptions may be obscured – becoming skewed or thwarted – and this may lead to feelings of incompetency or impotency when faced with life’s challenges.

Stress can have an effect on how a person feels, thinks and acts. It can also have an adverse effect on how the body functions. Common signs of stress include insomnia or on the contrary, hypersomnia, sweating, lack of appetite and problems in concentrating. One may feel sensitive, anxious, an­noyed, worried and have a low self-esteem. Other symptoms may be racing thoughts, losing one’s temper, smoking or drinking, regular headaches, muscle pain, tension, or feeling dazed.

Stress causes a rush of hormones (Adrenaline and Noradrenaline) in one’s body. These hormone responses are released to enable a person to deal with threats or pressure. In fact, this phenomenon is referred to as flight or fight.

Adrenaline affects heart and respiratory rates. Noradrenaline affects parts of the brain where attention and responses are controlled. Both are the components of the flight or fight response.

When pressure or threat has gone, the stress hormone levels will generally return to normal. On the other hand, if a person is persistently under pressure, these hormones will remain in the body’s system and this may lead to chronic signs of stress.

If stress is not addressed it may cause illnesses. It is crucial that a person identifies signs of stress early. Recognising the signs will enable the person to manage the stress and avoid unhealthy coping methods. Identifying initial signs of stress will also aid in preventing it getting worse and possibly causing worrying complications, such as heart problems.

If coping with stress proves difficult, one should seek assistance from a professional such as a counsellor or a psychologist – where trying Cognitive Behavioural Therapy could be suggested. If, on the other hand, stress is causing serious health problems, then it would be best to visit a general practitioner.

Unfortunately, there is little one can do to prevent stress at all costs, but there are things one can do to cope with it in the most effective ways possible, such as finding time to exercise, adopting good time management – working smarter not harder – socialising, voicing one’s concerns with a trustworthy friend or having some ‘me time’.

You could also take control of the situation by not remaining passive, opting instead to take on a challenge by being proactive and doing one thing that scares you every day. You could also get involved in charity, be positive or prioritise work and focus on tasks that are essential, which will make a real difference in your job, and leave the least significant tasks to last.

Ms Cuschieri is a care operations manager.

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