Not many people go through life without experiencing stress at one time or another. It’s the body’s way of adapting to new or challenging situations and is not always bad. Long term stress can result in many symptoms of ill health however, including muscle tension and pain, headaches, digestive problems such as diarrhoea, irritable bowel and ulcers, cravings, low mood and depression amongst others, so it’s important to know how best to manage it when it does occur.
Physical activity or exercise is an excellent way of stress relief, particularly if you are angry or upset. Exercise is not only beneficial for mental worries and muscle tension, it also releases endorphins to make you feel good, improves immunity and adds to your general fitness. As a result you feel better able to cope with everyday pressures put upon you. It needn’t involve spending hours in the gym either. Walking, running, swimming and gardening are just a few of the activities you can do. Why not go along to your local activity centre and see what is available. Imagine the fun you could have if you took up belly dancing for instance!! It will also give you a chance to meet new people, make new friends and help take your mind off whatever is causing your stress.
A problem shared is a problem halved
Don’t let your worries take over your life. If the problem lies within your family, get together with the people concerned and air your grievances. It is much better to get things out in the open and not allow ill feelings to develop further. Talking to friends with similar problems can often help you to see things in a different light. Get together with a friend who knows how to make you feel better about yourself and steer clear of those who leave you feeling miserable.
Know your limits
Sometimes you find yourself struggling to deal with problems that are completely out of your control. Learn to take a step back and consider the options. If it is not possible to change the situation at that point in time, then don’t try to do so. Learn to accept things as they are for the time being until such time as you can take steps to change them.
Look after yourself
Make sure you get enough sleep and eat well. Aim to have at least 8 hours sleep every night. Include lots of fruit and vegetables in your diet, organic if possible, as they have the greatest complex of vitamins, minerals and rich nutrients readily available for the body. Don’t eat too late at night to avoid burdening the digestive system. Lack of sleep and not eating properly can leave you irritable and less able to deal with everyday situations which in turn add to your stress. If things are getting on top of you and you are suffering from low mood you may find a herbal tincture made from the herb St. John’s wort (Hypericum) beneficial. If your problem is of a more serious nature then it is best to seek professional help.
As the saying goes ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’. It is essential to maintain a good work/play balance in order to minimise stress. Play can be just as important to your wellbeing as work. Make sure you take regular breaks from your daily routine to relax and have fun. At work, go for a walk round the block at lunchtime to help clear your mind. Make a list of the things you enjoy doing and try to fit them into your schedule whether it’s having a girl’s night out or simply soaking in a warm, soothing bath after a hard day. Make a note of all the things you have always wanted to do but have never found the time to do and find out what steps need to be taken to fulfil these ambitions.
It’s good to have something to look forward to.
Irene has been working in the health industry for over 20 years, and writes extensively on health topics