How to Manage Your Stress?

What is stress?

Stress is a natural feeling of human beings. You can feel it when you are under too much mental or emotional pressure. When you do your daily activities, you will feel a bit of stress. It is useful for success in your life because it will motivate you to do daily activities actively. If you are under too much of stress, then, it becomes a trouble. Ability to cope with stress is different from person to person. Stress can affect your feelings, thinking and physical activities as well.


Symptoms of stress

  • Irritability.
  • Anxiety.
  • Low mood.
  • Low in self-esteem.
  • Negative feeling.
  • Difficulty in concentration.
  • Excessive drinking or smoking.
  • Talking more.
  • Changes in dietary habits.
  • Forgetfulness.
  • Difficulty in making decisions.
  • Headache.
  • Body aches.
  • Stomach problems.
  • Sweating.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Dizziness.
  • Changes of bowel and urinary habits.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Sexual dysfunctions.

Symptoms of stress are different from person to person.


Causes of stress

It is difficult to find the exact cause or causes of stress. They vary with the person.
Some common causes,

  • Financial problems.
  • Job problems.
  • Death of a closed one.
  • Family problems.
  • Relationship problems.
  • Examinations.
  • Diseases.
  • Problems of a loved one.

When you are under stress, your body produces more stress hormones. Mainly stress hormones are Cortisol, Adrenaline and Noradrenaline. These stress hormones are released into your blood stream when you feel stress. It helps you to deal with mental pressure and threats. This concept is known as ‘Fight or Flight’. If you are under stress continuously, you stress hormone levels remain high and cause stress symptoms.


How to diagnose stress?

There is no specific test to diagnose stress. Your doctor will ask about the history of your symptoms, family history, social history (personal life and your work) to diagnose it. You may be asked to keep up a stress diary to find triggering factors.


Complications of stress

Long-term stress can cause complications.

  • High blood pressure.
  • Stroke.
  • Heart diseases.
  • Diabetes mellitus.
  • Dyspepsia and peptic (stomach) ulcers.
  • Sleeping disorders (Insomnia, hypersomnia).
  • Depression.
  • Anxiety.
  • Eating disorders.
  • Reduced immunity.
  • Increased alcohol or drug use.
  • Vulnerability to accidents.
  • Sexual dysfunctions.


How to manage stress?

Keep a stress diary for several weeks. Note your stressful situations with date, time, place, people who were with you, your feelings, thoughts, physical symptoms, and work what you were doing. By keeping a stress diary, you can find the causes, triggering factors of your stress and ways to overcome stress.

Avoid unhealthy ways of coping with stress.
For example,

  • Smoking.
  • Using drugs.
  • Drinking too much.
  • Overeating or under eating.
  • Withdrawing from your society (family and friends).
  • Sleeping too much or lack of adequate sleep.
  • Anger and violence.

Choose healthy ways to cope with stress.
For example,

  • Go for a walk.
  • Swimming.
  • Ride a bicycle.
  • Call a friend.
  • Spend a time with nature.
  • Do your domestic works.
  • Love your pet.
  • Listening to music.
  • Watch movies.
  • Read good books.
  • Write articles.

Relax yourself. Learn how to do relaxation therapies, including breathing exercises, meditation, etc. Do regular exercise. Exercise will not cut your stress, but it can give energy to cope with your stress. Spend some time for your hobbies.

Set realistic goals in your life. Avoid extremes and find important aspects of your life. Prepare a good timetable and manage your time. Try to do only one thing at a time.

Avoid or change the stressful situations if possible. Otherwise, adapt or accept them yourself. Learn to think good aspects of stressful situations and people. Change your bad reactions to stress.

Talk to someone who loved and closed. Be with friends and enjoy your social life.

Think best ways to overcome triggering factors of stress. Think positively.

Eat healthy and balanced meals. Avoid caffeine or sugar containing meals.

Sleep well. A good sleep relieves tiredness and gives you a fresh feeling for your next day.

If you cannot cope with your stress further, meet your doctor. Your doctor will guide you to overcome the troublesome stress and treat causative illnesses and complications of stress. Counselling, cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), anger management techniques and stress management groups are good treatment options for stress. If you have depression or anxiety as complications of stress, antidepressants and anxiolytic medications may help. Medications cannot cure stress, but can give short-term relief.


(Photo courtesy Bhernandez)


Related Links:

Married People Have Healthy Hearts
Few Tips for a Long Life
How Does Stress Increase Heart Attack Risk?

About the author
Dr. Nalaka Priyantha is the founder and author of 'DRN Health'. He currently works at the Ministry of Health, Sri Lanka as a senior medical officer. He is blogging about healthy living since 2012.
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