Your Top Questions About Stress Answered
Whether it’s everyday traffic making us late for work, a daily to-do list spilling out of control or a house move, feeling stressed is extremely common and can affect anyone. We’ve come up with our answers to some of your top questions about stress, from the causes to tips on how to cope, to help you empower calm in your busy life:
What is stress?
We all feel little stresses in our lives, such as before a big presentation at work or looking at all the housework we have to do, which can actually help you be more productive.
At times though, we can feel as though our stress levels have become overwhelming and more difficult to cope with. Our body and mood can be impacted, too: we can feel out of control, irritable or scared. It can also lead to further issues like burnout; a feeling of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion after feeling stressed over a long period of time.
What causes stress?
Big events or situations that often include changes in our lives can cause a lot of stress. As we all know, moving, grief or a job loss are seen as some of the most stressful life events. It isn’t only the bigger things that can cause stress though; it can be an accumulation of smaller things or the pressure of carrying the mental load around with you wherever you go. Traffic on your commute to work, long to-do lists at home or in the office, busy schedules, balancing family and work commitments. Life can be a lot sometimes.
These stresses can cause the body to release stress hormones, which are thought to have initially developed to help us (think of when we were cavemen and women) by increasing awareness and improving reflexes in response to potential threats. However, nowadays we are surrounded by potentially threatening situations (like traffic, a busy day at work, too much noise… the list is endless) and sometimes our bodies can’t keep up and we can find ourselves overwhelmed and stressed.
What are some symptoms of stress?
Signs of stress or burnout can include:
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Finding it difficult to concentrate
- Low self esteem
- Anxious racing thoughts
- Trouble sleeping and/or fatigue
- Eating more or less than usual
- Constantly feeling worried or scared
- Fast heartbeat
If you feel like the stress is getting too much, make sure you visit your doctor for some help. There are also some brilliant resources online to help you with emotional resilience to help you cope if burnout comes around.
How to relieve stress
So, how do you destress once you’ve recognised that you’re burnt out? Don’t worry, there are a multitude of ways to empower calm in your life and help you cope with stress. We’ve come up with a few suggestions that we’ve found particularly help in how to reduce stress:
Learn how to make a stress ball
A squishy ball is the perfect accessory to keep on your desk to help you relieve stress (and/or fidget with or improve arm strength!). Ready-made stress balls are usually made from foam or gel, or you can create one at home by filling a balloon with something non-toxic like rice, sand or flour. Making a stress ball is a mindfulness activity, helping you to concentrate on something other than the stress taking over your thoughts. Not only that, but once you have made it, you can squeeze it and release your stress whenever you feel it coming on. Why not try making an aromatherapy stress ball for extra calming effect?
Do some yoga
There are tonnes of yoga tutorials available for free online nowadays. Yoga is a popular way to bring calm into your life, and it helps with flexibility and fitness, too! Why not try a 30-day yoga challenge to manage stress? Doing it regularly could be a brilliant way to find inner peace. We especially like Yoga with Adriene, as there’s something for everyone whether you’re a beginner or seasoned yoga pro.
Cook a wholesome meal
Cooking a long meal is a great way to switch off and handle stress. It’s another wonderful mindfulness activity. Include ingredients like fresh vegetables for Vitamin C, dark green leafy veg for magnesium and wholegrains or nuts for B Vitamins for a balanced and healthy diet.
Meditation has become really popular and it’s not hard to see why! Benefits could include reducing stress, improving sleep and increasing focus. There are lots of guided meditation apps you can try now which help you if you’ve never tried it before, or if you want to try different methods of meditation. We particularly like Headspace and Calm.
Some people who practice gratitude journaling have reported benefits such as more positivity and sleeping better, which may help with reducing stress. There are plenty of lovely journals available to buy to get you started. You can simply write down 1-3 things that you’re grateful for each day and anything extra you want to get out of your system. It can be a great way to write out all the stress you’ve been feeling.
You could also try writing and/or saying some positive affirmations every morning. These mini mantras that you can repeat to yourself regularly to reinforce ideas of what you are and who you want to be can be helpful to remind yourself of why you are so wonderful and what you like about yourself, especially if you’re stressed and anxious. You could put all the affirmations you write on small bits of paper and keep them in a jar, so you can access them easily whenever you need them.
Self-care has tonnes of amazing benefits and may help manage stress. You get to choose what is self-care for you. What is it that helps you feel better? It can be as simple as cleaning, drawing or reading a book. Why not try adding it to your weekly diary to make sure you’re putting in the time to look after yourself and manage your stress levels?