Stress: Bouncing Back

Stress is a natural human response which evolved as a survival mechanism and is often referred to as the ‘flight/fight/freeze’ response. Stress responses at the right levels can enhance a person’s performance e.g. working to deadlines and taking an exam. Yet, we are not built to sustain long periods or overloading levels of stress.

Research shows that if we do not keep stress levels in check, it may have a negative impact on our physical and mental health. A recent survey conducted by the Mental Health Foundation (2018) found that 74% of people felt overwhelmed by stress. Over 60% of the adults in the survey reported feeling anxious and over 50% reported feeling depressed [1] – that’s way too many!

Notice The Signs

Stress signs will vary from person to person – get to know yours. Some people may behave differently than usual. This may include not being able to concentrate on activities you usually enjoy, feeling restless, avoiding people, becoming hypersensitive to touch or noise, loss of appetite, overeating, difficulties sleeping, over-sleeping, or eating unhealthy foods. Some people may have physical reactions to feeling stressed. They may feel their heart beating faster, changes in their body temperature, headaches, increased muscle tension, feeling tearful, and/or feeling sick. Others may find themselves thinking more negatively about themselves e.g. “I’m not good enough”. Get to know yours!

Keep Busy

Keeping yourself distracted will not only help the time pass, but it is likely you are also going to keep busy with an activity you enjoy. This may help you to feel more positive, put yourself in the right frame of mind, and help your body to reduce activating the ‘flight/fight/freeze’ cycle.

Sleep

Every organ in the human body produces unwanted material which needs to be cleared. The brain is no exception. This ‘cleaning’ process appears to only occur when we are asleep and is why we find it hard to think when we have not had enough sleep; our brain has not been ‘cleaned’ properly. Not enough sleep can result in poor decision making and increases your chances of thinking negatively. Grab 40 winks!

Breathe

When we feel stressed and anxious, we tend to breathe more quickly. Slowing down our breathing can help the body change its physiological responses and ‘reset’ the body back into a calmer state. Breathe in for 4 seconds through your nose and out for 6 seconds through your mouth.

Self-Care

No matter what setbacks you encounter – be kind to yourself! If met with a setback then make sure you try to eat healthily, drink lots of water, take part in activities you enjoy, socialise, go out into nature, and/or exercise. Being kind to yourself will help the body to decrease those stress hormones, which helps reduce your overall feelings of anxiety and stress.

Take A Break

Individuals using social media tend to promote their ‘better’ self-image, which can have a negative impact on your thinking. It may make you more prone to engage in negative thought cycles e.g. “I’m not good enough”. Take a social media break or restrict your usage.

References

[1] Mental Health Foundation (May 2018). Stress: Are we coping? London: Mental Health Foundation

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