Personal Stress Stips

What is Stress?

what is stress?

It is well known that we all thrive on a certain amount of pressure and in fact, we all need some pressure to do our best. However, if this pressure becomes excessive it can be counterproductive and lead to stress. At first, we may just be irritable, snappy, unable to think clearly, and make a few silly mistakes. However, if the pressure continues and we fail to do anything about it our performance drops. We may develop physical symptoms or mental symptoms such as anxiety and eventually depression.

According to the Health and Safety Executive stress is:
"An adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demands placed upon them. It arises when they worry they cannot cope."

The HSE definition does not however take into account the concept of perception. As different people perceive the same event in different ways this is extremely important. It is not usually the event which causes us problems but our perception of the event. For example, some people will see an event such as public speaking as extremely stressful while others will see it as a challenge.

personal stress tips

Another definition for stress is:
“A reaction which occurs when the perceived demands of a situation exceeds our ability to cope”

We therefore can cause our own stress by the way we perceive a situation. - The way we see life, our perceptions may affect our receptivity to stress. We also cause our stress by our own behaviour.

So what can we do ?

Try to manage your balance between too little and too much pressure by adapting your behaviour and thinking. Also make sure you take time out to recover from the pressures you find yourself under. Exercise and relaxation are paramount.

Tips for preventing pressure turning to stress

Adopt a healthy lifestyle - If we eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and ensure we get adequate rest our body is better able to cope with stress should it occur.
Know your limitations and do not take on too much. We cause ourselves a great deal of stress because we do not like to say no to people. We like people to like us and do not want to let people down. We then end up doing more than we should. Learn to be assertive and how to say no without upsetting or offending people. Practice saying “No” without feeling guilty.
Determine what causes you stress and try to change your behaviour to reduce it.
Avoid unnecessary conflict. Don't be too argumentative. Is it really worth the stress? Look for win - win situations. Look for a solution to a dispute where both parties can achieve a positive outcome.
Learn to manage your time more effectively - We waste a lot of time doing unimportant tasks. Prioritise your day and do the important jobs first. The unimportant ones can wait, and often they will disappear completely leaving you time to do other things. Also do not put off the unpleasant tasks. Every time we think about them we cause ourselves stress. Give an unpleasant task a high priority and do it first.
Take time out to relax and recharge your batteries - You will perform much better after a break and easily make up the time you used relaxing.
Try to see things differently - If something is bothering you try to see it differently. Talk over your problem with somebody before it gets out of proportion. Often, talking to somebody else will help you see things from a different and less stressful perspective. Try to see the funny side of a situation. Laughter is a great stress reducer. When things cause you stress, try to change the situation. Sometimes however, this is not possible. If this proves to be the case recognise this and accept things as they are.
Find time to meet friends. Friends help us see things in a different way. The activities we engage in with friends usually help us relax and we will often have a good laugh. Laughter is a great stress reducer. It boosts the immune system, which is often depleted during stress.
Avoid alcohol, nicotine and caffeine as coping mechanisms. - Long term, these faulty coping mechanisms will just add to the problem. For example, caffeine is a stimulant and our body reacts to this with the stress response.
If you do become stressed, engage in some form of physical activity and try a relaxation technique. Physical activity will work off the biochemical and physical changes that occur within your body due to stress. Relaxation helps your body return to its normal healthy state. Good relaxation techniques include breathing exercises, massage and a variety of complimentary therapies.

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