Stress is very common these days and there are many things which can trigger it; such as demanding jobs, long working hours, relationship problems and hectic lifestyles. It is often a combination of several factors which gradually lead to increasing stress, until it reaches a point where it is unmanageable and affects your wellbeing. Stress can also be brought on by significant changes in your life such as bereavement or moving house.
When you become stressed your body produces hormones which cause the following:
• A rise in blood pressure
• An increased heart rate
• Reduced digestion
• A release of sugar into the blood
Some of the symptoms you may experience when you are stressed:
• Tiredness or exhaustion
• Difficulty concentrating
• Difficulty sleeping
• Constipation or diarrhoea
• Loss of appetite
• Muscle pains
Some evidence suggests that having a high level of stress in your life puts you at greater risk of a heart attack and other diseases associated with high blood pressure. It also becomes increasingly difficult to cope with your daily activities, which may be the first sign you notice that you are stressed. The first stage to dealing with stress is identifying the underlying cause and that the stress is a problem.
Seeking help from your doctor if you are unable to cope with the stress alone is a worthwhile step and they can work with you to manage the stress in your life. We can offer advice and treatment or make a referral to a psychotherapist or counsellor if required. It is important to assess your lifestyle, with the aim to removing or reducing the factors which are causing you to be stressed. You should avoid working too long hours for example and take time to enjoy yourself.
Some ways to manage and reduce stress:
• Gaining support from friends and family.
• Sharing your problems and the pressures in your life with friends and family, a doctor or a counsellor.
• Making every effort to ensure you get enough sleep at night. Take time before you go to bed to relax and ‘switch off’ from the pressures of the day and give yourself the best chance of a good sleep.
• Relaxation techniques such as meditation or breathing exercises using slow, deep breathing.
• Exercise can be an excellent way to reduce and avoid stress in the future.
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