Stress in the 21st century is almost as common as the flu. What is stressful for me may not be stressful for you. So what is stress?
For most of us it is when the demands we place upon ourselves or those we allow others to place on us are greater than our ability to cope.
Some people thrive on stress and can achieve a great deal when under pressure, but others are totally debilitated by it. The challenge in today’s society is to obtain a stress or arousal level which provides the benefits of good health, satisfaction, general well-being and motivation.
Taking time out to relax in our lives from work is just as important as maintaining a regular physical activity program and decreasing caffeine, alcohol and sugar intake. Having a calm and relaxed outlook can make a great difference to how your body reacts to stressful situations and events and to your overall energy levels.
When you feel good you are more likely to look after yourself and therefore less likely to suffer anxiety, depression and ill health.
In Australia approximately 70% of patients visiting a doctor are suffering from stress-related conditions. Recent evidence suggests that 80% of stress is brought on by how we use our minds.
Think about the statement is the glass half full or half empty. We all know people who complain no matter how good the situation is, the ‘knockers’ of the world and others no matter how bad or tough things are always find something positive to say.
If you want to stay or become a positive person, you need to minimise your association with the ‘half empty glass’ types of the world and surround yourself with the ‘half full’ people of the world. If the worst case scenario dominates your thoughts it will happen, but if you change your focus to the best case scenario you will start finding good things happening to you.
When things don’t go as we want we often sabotage our lives with various behaviours, such as eating too much, drinking more alcohol, working more, decreasing our leisure time and/or retail therapy. Such behaviours tend to leave us worst off.
If your lifestyle is hectic or unbalanced, then taking time out to relax could mean planning times especially to do this. Sometimes you need to put yourself first and NOT feel guilty about it, close the door and listen to the silence. Doing things that you enjoy can help you feel relaxed and this needs to be prioritised as part of a healthy lifestyle. Some activities that can contribute to a feeling of relaxation include having a bath, walking along the beach, having a massage, playing with your dog, talking to a friend, listening to music, gardening, meditation and yoga.
Good time management will also assist with stress management. Plan your week on Sunday night, get up 30 minutes early four mornings a week and you will gain an extra 2 hours to do the things you have been putting off. Leave the office at lunch time and say no when someone asks you to do something that you don’t want to do.
Being able to detect the warning signs of stress is an important skill in preventing the build p of tension in your mind. Some warning signs are sleep disturbance, migraines and headaches, aching back and shoulders, heart palpitations, irritability, depression, impulsive behaviour, fatigue and the loss of the joy of living.
When dealing with stress it is important to realise you can’t change other people and that the only person you can change is yourself, your attitude and your reaction to stress.
Try not to let those things that you can’t change interrupt your life. Be realistic about situations and events and try not to blow things out of proportion. If nothing appears to be working seek professional help.
Written by Amanda Coombe who is considered a national expert in lifestyle coaching and personal training having 5 times been a finalist in the Australian Personal Trainer of the Year award. She is the founder of Personal Best Fitness, Tasmania’s Fitness Business of the Year and is recognized as a leader in corporate health programs. Her corporate clients include Nyrstar, Tasmanian Collection Services, RACT, Hydro Tasmania, Norske Skog, Parliament House, Tasmanian Audit Office, SEMF and Tasmanian Fire Service.