If you’re aware that you’re living with high levels of stress, you could be putting your entire health and well-being at risk. Stress causes turmoil on your emotional balance, as well as your physical health. It reduces your ability to think with clarity, function effectively, and enjoy life.
In fact, the simple understanding that you’re in control of your life is the basis of managing stress. Stress management is all about taking control: of your thoughts, lifestyle, emotions, and how you deal with difficulties. Irrespective of how stressful your life seems, there are actions you can take to relieve the pressure and regain control.
So, what are some common causes of stressors in modern life, and what’s the solution? Read on to find out more.
Constantly Being Connected
Studies have highlighted that receiving text messages and mobile notifications trigger the release of dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter associated with reward-seeking behaviours and addiction. Similar to drug or alcohol addiction, push notifications can make us feel good when we’re receiving them and go into negative feelings of withdrawal when we aren’t.
Research showed that 2,000 employees in the UK reported found notifications caused toxic levels of stress, mainly when email notifications were unread. This issue was most widespread among media, marketing, and PR professionals, 60% of whom used push notifications as part of their day-to-day job.
A simple solution to remedy, switch off all desktop push sounds, notifications, and icons that will distract you during working hours, so you only receive notifications when you choose to look at them.
Working Long Hours
Study after study links stress to all manner of health problems, including depression, high blood pressure, infertility, indigestion, migraine, allergies, diabetes, ulcers, skin disorders.
Allowing work to dominate your life also means you’re probably not getting sufficient exercise if any. Regular exercise keeps your body healthy and helps you to manage stress.
If you’re working excessive hours, there’s also a good chance that you’re ignoring your diet. Grabbing something from the mobile canteen, and downing copious cups of coffee to keep you going and then microwaving a ready meal at night because you haven’t the time or energy to make anything better, it’s a fast track to poor health.
Then there are the health-related problems related to the way you work. You need to take proper breaks throughout the day to give your body a chance to recuperate from spending long periods in fixed positions; otherwise, this can cause long-term physical problems including RSI, back injuries and eye strain.
Actions you may want to consider improving your work-life balance, flexible working, can you get all your work done during working hours so that you’re not working from home, how much time of your day is spent in attending needless office meetings. If you are suffering from stress, don’t be afraid to speak with a work colleague, your line manager or someone within your HR department.
One in three Brits feels that Brexit has had a negative impact on their mental health, according to a survey of over 5,700 people by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).
The ongoing saga of Brexit is taking a toll on the UK’s economy and influence on the global stage. Also, it’s having a damaging impact at a personal level. Around four in 10 people reported feeling powerless (43%), angry (39%) or worried (38%) due to Brexit according to a report released in March by the Mental Health Foundation. If extrapolated to the entire population, that would mean around 22 million people’s wellbeing had been affected by the uncertain political landscape.
Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, talks about the circle of concern vs the circle of influence.
Circle of Concern incorporates a wide range of concerns we have, such as our wellbeing, our children, problems in the workplace, interest rate rises, or the threat of war.
A Circle of Influence embraces the concerns that we can do something about. They are concerns that we have some influence and control over.
You cannot control or know what is going to happen, but you can understand that if whatever does happen impacts you, directly or indirectly, that you will adapt and cope. Until that time, actively stop buying into the fear and hype if it’s hurting you more than it’s helping.
Social Isolation – Loneliness
If you’ve ever felt lonely, you’re not the only one. A study from the British Red Cross, reported over nine million adults in the U.K. to feel the same way, that’s approximately 1/5 of the population! Loneliness is increasingly being considered a danger to human health, similar to smoking and obesity.
When separated from other people, we find yourself in a psychological state of stress, sometimes referred to as “fight or flight.”
Being around other humans provides security and safety that restrains this stress state and reduces the perception of loneliness. When alone, or feeling alone, humans unconsciously sense that they must be more aware of threats; therefore, the body prepares to deal with them in a stress response. Stress triggers a surge of hormones that coordinate physiological changes inside the body.
While the solution to the social isolation is multifaceted, encouraging people to build meaningful, mutually beneficial connections is the way forward.
Need Stress Relief? Try The 4 A’s
Expand your stress management awareness understanding all four approaches for coping with stress: avoid, alter, accept and adapt.
When your levels of stress surpass your ability to cope, you need to restore the balance by decreasing the stressors or improving your ability to cope or both.
Consider using one of the four A’s: avoid, alter, accept or adapt.
Avoid – Did you know, you can simply avoid a lot of stress, plan ahead, take control of your surroundings, avoid people who upset you and learn to say no.
Alter – Communicate your feelings openly, manage your time better, at work bunch together similar tasks.
Accept – Occasionally we may have no choice but to accept things the way they are. Therefore try to: Phone or schedule a coffee break with an understanding colleague, Practice positive self-talk. It’s easy to lose impartiality when you’re stressed. One negative thought can lead to many more, and soon you’ve created a mental avalanche, learn from your mistakes.
Adapt to Practice thought-stopping – Stop negative thoughts immediately, try looking at your situation from a new viewpoint, adopt a mantra such as, “I can beat this,” and mentally repeat it in challenging situations. Look at the bigger picture. Ask yourself, “Will problem matter in a year?” The answer is often no. Realising, this makes a stressful situation seem less upsetting.
For more information on stress management, take a look at this page. If you’d like to discuss this more then why not book a free initial consultation to see how I can help you with managing your stress?