Like everyone else, from time to time, we all get stressed out by a number of things that happen in our lives. Some are within our control and others are not. Some are clear and can be identified, thus allowing us to choose options to take action. But some of the biggest stressors are unclear and vague. Being able to recognize the causes of the stress and then deciding how to manage it is very important to our mental and physical health.

Some common causes of stress in our personal life include taking on a big loan, going on holidays, getting married, moving house, pregnancy, sudden change in health, divorce or separation or death of a loved one.

And at work, our work load, demands of the job, difficult customers, time constraint and deadlines, work conditions, demanding superiors or their personalities, shortage of personnel, attitudes, personality and work styles of colleagues, conflicts, losing or changing one’s job, having a boring job or getting a promotion may cause unduly stress and pressures.

Each time we perceive something that feels like a threat or danger, our body goes into an alert system as part of our survival mechanism to either flee from the situation or fight against the threat. But in this day and age, we find ourselves many times being unable to do both and we freeze instead. On a daily basis, if we are encountering many perceived threats, we are not allowing ourselves to get back into a relaxed state.

I realised that much of my stress was self-inflicted because I would always imagine the worse that could happen over small or silly things. I worried about too many things that were out of my control. When I felt upset, I used to take sweet desserts, have a soft drink or wine as the sugar / alcohol would give me a temporary boost. But when energy levels dropped, I would feel worse.

Are you able to detect the signs of stress? Our bodies are constantly speaking to us and giving us signals. Some of them include backache, headache, insomnia, breathlessness, dizziness, fainting, tiredness, mouth ulcers, upset stomach, pain in neck and shoulders or sweating for no reason. Be aware of your feelings too like prolonged sadness, feeling isolated or loss of pleasure in life. We may also find ourselves picking up some bad habits of overeating, drinking alcohol in excessive amounts or smoking.

There are many ways to cope with stress and the most common advice is to plan, prioritise and organise your day, manage your time and do not accept more than you can cope with, look at things with a different perspective and many more.

Here are some solutions that I have found to be very helpful:
– Do one thing at a time
– Take short breaks to relax
– Keep a balance between work and recreation
– Be gentle with yourself
– Learn to say no
– Be aware of the problem and accept it as a challenge
– Hug a family member or close friend
– Discuss the issue with a friend
– Write your concerns in a diary
– Pray or meditate daily
– Breathe deeply
– Take a warm bath
– Go for a massage
– Care for a pet
– Volunteer to do some community service
– Learn to laugh more! And genuinely!!