I’m excited to have a guest post, Funanani nailed this guest post. I hope you enjoy it too!
Inflation, soaring fuel prices, and money barely making it to the end of the month due to shocking food prices, Covid-19, world hunger, and dare I forget to mention that the ice caps are melting as well. It’s no wonder you are stressed!
We all are.
It’s a lot to handle and it does not seem like the end is near. It will get worse before it gets better.
Some of us are stressed and we don’t even know it. The body sends us signals and we ignore them. We rarely admit that we are not okay. Very few people pause, breathe and realize that they need to reboot. Even fewer people acknowledge that they are not in the right space of mind.
The first step to dealing with stress is to acknowledge it.
When your body is emotionally or physically challenged it will react. When this happens, you may feel some tension emotionally or physically. Because stress is subjective, it is very difficult to deal with.
However, if you are self-aware, you will be able to tell whether you are experiencing stress and subsequently recognize the signs and symptoms of stress.
It’s only when you can pinpoint the symptoms of stress that you can deal with them well.
Why should you be aware of your stress levels?
Stress is one of the main things that affect our health. So, if your health means anything to you, you will be worried if something affects it. Stress may be a silent killer because most people do not know they are stressed.
But not knowing you are stressed does not mean that your body is not stressed. Read through these common symptoms and you will be able to decide whether you are stressed out or not.
But first, let’s talk about good stress and bad stress
Many stressful events happen in our lives but not all of these are bad. Stress is needed for us to be able to perform and survive. Remember that stress triggers the flight or fright response that we need to navigate life.
That’s why there is good stress. An example of a good stressful situation is the stress you feel before taking your driver’s test, exam, presentation at work, or interview. You do feel stress, but that stress allows your body to concentrate and gear up for success.
In such cases we don’t want the body’s response to trigger a heart attack or irritable bowel syndrome, instead, we want the body to produce hormones to help it cope with the situation. Although your heart rate may have accelerated exponentially during good stress situations, it is likely, that you will not collapse.
The key to noticing good stress is that it is short-term stress based on temporary stressful situations, not long-term.
Bad stress is usually long-term stress that is consistently there. It could be caused by life stressful situations that seem permanent where we don’t foresee a solution. An example of such a situation is a family member who is diagnosed with a chronic or terminal illness such as cancer.
Some of the situations may include losing a soulmate or waiting to meet the partner of our dreams. Because these situations are out of our control and we don’t know when things will get better, they tend to cause us to be stressed indefinitely.
Bad stress is the most dangerous as it means your heart rate is constantly over normal. It means your immune system is under pressure 24/7 and so is your high blood pressure.
Yes, I did say our body is designed to handle stress but not consistent stress.
Situations that can cause stress
We experience a lot of situations in life that stress us. Here are a few life events that may trigger stress. This list is not exhaustive and I am sure you can add more things to it:
- Starting a new job
- Losing a loved one (death, break-up, relocation)
- Rapid changes in your life
- Losing a job
- Marriage problems
- Exam (study-related problems)
- Failure in life (not achieving our dreams)
How does my body react to stress?
Symptoms and causes of stress are different from person to person. Some have stage fright, and some can do public speaking in their sleep and wouldn’t lose sleep over it.
Signs of stress are also different.
You might think you are not stressed all the while having a panic attack Listen to your body and act. It will shut down if you ignore it.
Sometimes we are stressed by imaginary things. It is important to understand what is stressing you and whether it’s reality or a figment of your imagination. Stress is a sign that your body is scared or worried and protecting itself. Unfortunately, your body cannot tell whether it’s worried about real things or not.
Stress can be helpful but hurtful sometimes especially if it is consistent. Here are a few reactions that your body may have:
- Hair loss
- Chest pains
- Trouble breathing often
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Increased cholesterol levels
- Low sex drive
- Increased weight gain
Common symptoms of stress
If unattended stress can be chronic.
Stress prevents you from working and concentrating. Just because you are sad and got bad news doesn’t mean you are stressed. Although stress has negative symptoms on the body you still have a fighting chance to get things back in control.
Here are the common symptoms of stress that you need to watch out for:
- Sleeping problems including insomnia
- Unhealthy eating disorders (stress-eating or avowing food in total)
- Digestive problems
- Substance abuse (e.g., alcohol, drugs, etc.)
- Anger outbursts
- Withdrawal and isolation
- Suffering from mental disorders or mental health problems
- Panic attacks
- Increased stress hormones
10. Anxiety disorder 11. Irritability
12. Excessive worry
I am stressed, what should I do?
In just one sentence you have to put yourself and your body first. Take time out to look at yourself and take care of your body. You only have one body, and it cannot be replaced.
Only you can take care of it.
You don’t have to make drastic changes to your life all at once, it’s the small things and the little changes which will make your life better in the long run.
Practice destressing every day. It will be worthwhile in the long run.
Take time out of your busy schedule to relax and love yourself. As Matt Haig wisely put it, “Just when you feel you have no time to relax, know that this is the moment you most need to make time to relax.”
Here are a few things to do:
Massage – Nothing says relaxation than a day at the spa where you get a nice full-body massage. Get experts to massage your back, neck, and legs. This relaxation will get a lot of stress and muscle tension off your body.
Yoga – Practice healthy deep breathing and relaxation techniques to keep your body relaxed and calm. Find a quiet place each morning to gather your thoughts and quiet your mind. As you find your happy place doing yoga, your body will begin to feel relaxed and safe and it will calm down
Exercise – This is one of the best ways to deal with symptoms of stress and stress itself. Participating in physical activity helps you to focus and to sweat. For some people running clears their heads and gives them a new perspective on life and the stressful situation
I have heard of people who find solutions to stressful situations as they do their regular exercise.
Although sweating during physical activity may not directly remove stressful situations, it can help you cope and deal with them much better.
If you are like many of us and do not exercise often you could experience shortness of breath while exercising, this is normal just take it slowly.
Exercise helps your heart pump faster and your blood vessels will be moving blood around a lot which is good for you.
If need be, get a professional strainer to help you train so that you don’t hurt yourself trying to do too much. A trainer will also keep you accountable so that you don’t get too stressed and not exercise.
Eat right – You guessed it right, just after exercising we have to eat healthily and drink lots of water. A healthy diet gives your body the right vitamins and nutrients to handle stress. Eating healthily will not only improve your physical health but will work wonders for your digestive system. Although you may struggle with digestive issues eating right will go a long way to help you deal with the stress.
A healthy lifestyle is made up of healthy habits like eating right and exercising consistently.
See a professional – If you suffer from short or long-term stress you need to seek medical attention. See a therapist or a psychologist and talk about the traumatic events that are going on in your life.
These people are trained to help you process your thoughts and feeling and all the different things happening in your life. If you are under a lot of emotional pressure, a therapist will talk you through your life and how to handle a lot of stress.
Don’t be scared of being judged and feeling exposed and vulnerable, it is all part of the process of handling stress. You can schedule regular sessions or just a few until you get things under control.
Also, consider cognitive behavioral therapy. It will go a long way in helping you process stressful situations.
Lean on a strong support network – No one can do this life thing on their own. Therefore, you have to lean on the people who love you.
This network could be family members, friends, or colleagues who will help you with emotional health.
Talk to them about the stress you are experiencing and maybe they may have solutions for you.
Unless they are the reason for your stress. In that case, you might have to take them to a therapist so you guys can talk about your issues and try to resolve the issues you have
Change your mindset – sometimes we struggle with stress because we perceive situations to be more intense than they actually are. The solution to solving this is to decide to have positive thoughts and focus on the positive thoughts.
Wake up in the morning and choose to live a happy and peaceful life.
As Mahogany SilverRain put it, “My body needs laughter as much as it needs tears. Both are
cleansers of stress”.
Avoid stressful situations/ people – If a certain situation is a reason for your stress, then stay away from that situation. This principle applies to people who stress you as well.
No relationship is worth the short-term stress or any serious health problems that you may suffer. Put yourself and your happiness first.
How does stress affect your mental health?
When you are stressed, your mental health will suffer as well. You cannot process your thoughts and feelings well. Your concentration is really low, and you struggle to enjoy the basic things in life.
Take care of your body and your mental health.
Protect your personal space and your own boundaries so that things that affect your mental health stay far away from you.
Life has a way of bringing us stressful situations, but don’t worry you have control over how you will react to these situations.
Take care of yourself.
Please do share any symptoms of stress you have experienced and how you dealt with them. We love to hear from you and engage with you.