Stress is a normal bodily reaction when we feel we are under pressure. We need some stress to help us perform, but when stress is experienced over the long-term it becomes harmful to our mental and physical health. Stress management is essential for our wellbeing.
Why manage stress?
Stress management is an important building block for building mental fitness and improving our wellbeing.
Experiencing long-term stress impacts our physical and mental health with links to heart disease, high blood pressure, migraines, depression and, in recent years, dementia. To understand how stress affects we need to consider, how we feel physically and emotionally, how our behaviour and thinking is changed.
What causes stress? Every one is different, but there are some situations that are likely to increase our experience of long term stress sometimes caused by one or two items but more often it comes about as a result of a series of small things that gradually build up. A list of those siutains that create stress include:
- Death of family members, fiends, colleagues or pets
- Chronic health problems (either our one or looking after a family member)
- Getting married or divorced
- Work issues: redundancy, promotion, productivity expectations, workplace bullying…
- Financial worries
- Home related issues: moving home, problems with neighbours
- not to mention problems with family gatherings for example Christmas, birthdays etc.
Often, we will try to avoid those things that seem to stress us. Ignoring or avoiding stressful situations may help in the short-run but just think about how these approaches can be harmful not just to our own health but our relationships (if we avoid going our or answering the telephone) or our finances (if we avoid opening letters from the bank).
We cannot, nor should; we, try to avoid all stress. We need some stress to help us perform. We should aim be in control of our stress instead of the stress being in control of us. Understand our response to stress and finding ways to control that stress through breathing exercises and mindfulness practices can all help us.
Stress management behaviours help us avoid the temptations to distract ourselves