A Day in the Life of Stress: Your Day of Stress
Stress affects everybody, from high-powered business people to someone looking after their family at home, so stress-management is a skill that everyone should learn.
How do you know you are experiencing stress? Stress can have many varying symptoms such as problems with eating or sleeping; increased use of alcohol or other drugs; problems making decisions; increased procrastination; inability to concentrate or pay attention; weakness, dizziness and shortness of breath; anxiety attacks; persistent hostile or angry feelings; headaches, backaches and frequent indigestion. The problems behind stress are called stressors and usually have their roots in unresolved emotional, physical or spiritual issues.
Stress during the Day
A day in the life of stress will take you through many of the ways that stress affects you during the average day. From the minute you wake in the morning to the last thing at night, stress can have a negative effects on your life.
When Stress Becomes Science
People have always suffered from stress, it was just triggered by different events; today anxiety is caused by career pressure, relationship issues, family problems or financial worries, whereas many centuries ago it would have come from fear of being attacked by a predatory animal!
It wasn’t until 50 years ago that psychologist Dr Seyle used the term and gave it real meaning. He defined stress as “the non-specific or common result of any demand upon the body”. He borrowed the word from the world of engineering, where it relates to pressure and tension. He can’t have realised at the time that he was coining a phrase that would have importance for modern living.
Remember stress is a personal issue: while some may find a parachute jump stressful, others may think of it as fun. To begin with you will need to identify what you find most stressful.
Define the problem
- Ask yourself repeatedly why this problem exists. Try to examine the root of the stressor rather than just its symptom. If the problem seems to large, break it down into smaller pieces as you will find those easier to deal with.
Open your mind
- Try not to limit yourself in the ways that you deal with issues. By allowing yourself to explore ideas outside your realm of understanding, you can help to resolve issues with more creative energy. Try not to accept the first idea that comes along as you may close your mind to even better solutions.
Pick the best solution
- Sometimes the best decision-making techniques are the simplest. Talking the problem over with a friend, colleague or partner can be an easy way to see the problem from a different perspective. Tree diagrams or flow charts can be useful tools to help understand a problem, and in the coming sheets you will examine these strategies more closely.
Putting a solution into action
- By this stage, you will have identified the problem and created a solution for it. The final and most difficult stage is how to implement it. Accept that this may not work first time and that change needs to be gradual. Don’t expect too much from your initial attempts, just think of it as a learning experience; if you fail this time it only means that next time you are more likely to succeed. These four stages can be used to help manage stress in a variety of ways. You will take this basic concept further when you read about problem solving. Basic relaxation techniques can be an immediate way of de-stressing. Try some of the following methods next time you’re feeling stressed.
- Create an image in your mind of something that helps you to focus on relaxation: a favourite object, waves from the sea lapping on to a deserted beach, anything that makes you feel calm. Take time to look around the imagery you’ve created and focus on the finer details such as the sound and smell of the sea or the particular information about your favourite object.
- Slow, deep breaths can give a fast-acting way of stemming the flow of adrenaline around your body. Take a deep breath in and feel your diaphragm fall and your lungs inflate, then exhale and feel the air rushing out. Do this for at least five minutes to effectively reduce the surge of adrenaline that is coursing through your body and start to relax.