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Stress Awareness

Stress is an inevitable part of daily life and will be felt by everyone for different reasons and to varying degrees. How we manage stress can make a huge difference in how we look after our mental and physical wellbeing. Understanding how to identify feeling stress, the common causes and how best to cope is the most effective way to combat it.

Identifying Stress

Stress is a natural physiological and psychological response to demands and threats. When we face a challenge, our body releases hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, which prepare us for action — a reaction known as the “fight-or-flight” response. While stress is a normal part of life, persistent, unrelieved stress can lead to distress.

To identify stress, look for signs such as irritability, anxiety, depression, headaches and sleep disturbances. People under stress may also experience muscle tension, changes in appetite, or difficulty concentrating. It’s crucial to differentiate between short-term stress, which can be motivating, and chronic stress, which can be harmful and lead to health issues like hypertension and a weakened immune system.

Work stress & Burnout

Work stress occurs when the demands of the job exceed an individual’s ability to cope. Factors such as high workloads, tight deadlines and challenging relationships with colleagues or managers can contribute to work stress. Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged and excessive stress. It’s characterised by feelings of energy depletion, cynicism related to one’s job and reduced professional efficacy.

Preventing burnout involves recognising early signs of work stress and taking steps to manage it. Employers can help by promoting a healthy work-life balance, providing support resources, and ensuring workloads are manageable. Individuals can reduce stress by setting clear boundaries between work and personal life, practicing relaxation techniques and seeking support from colleagues, friends, or professionals.

Family and Relationships

Families are systems of interconnected and interdependent individuals; any change in one member affects the whole system. Stress within a family can arise from various sources such as financial difficulties, illness, or interpersonal conflict. In relationships, stress can stem from communication breakdowns, mismatched expectations, or external pressures.

To maintain healthy family dynamics, it’s important to communicate openly, share responsibilities, and support each other during stressful times. Building strong, supportive relationships requires time, effort, and the willingness to resolve conflicts constructively. Cultivating empathy and understanding within the family unit can significantly reduce stress levels.

Coping with stress

Coping with stress effectively requires both short-term strategies to manage immediate stressors and long-term techniques to maintain overall well-being. Short-term strategies include deep breathing, mindfulness meditation, or taking a walk to clear your mind. Long-term stress management involves regular physical activity, maintaining a balanced diet, ensuring adequate sleep and pursuing hobbies.

It’s also essential to recognise when to seek professional help. Therapists and counsellors can provide support and teach coping strategies to manage stress better. Building a network of friends and family for emotional support is equally important. With practice, you can build resilience to bounce back from life’s challenges.