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How to Tame Your Stress

by Maya Misic

What causes stress?

Stress is a normal human reaction that happens to everyone. In fact, the human body is designed to experience stress and react to it. Stress responses help your body adjust to new situations. It can be positive, keeping us alert, motivated and ready to avoid danger. However, it becomes a problem when stressors continue without relief or periods of relaxation. This is when our body starts to show physiological and psychological symptoms that we have difficulty managing.

Symptoms of stress

We all experience stress differently. However, there are some common signs and symptoms of stress as listed below. Physical signs

  • Dry mouth

  • Increased heart rate

  • Muscle aches, stiffness or pain (especially in the neck, shoulders and lower back)

  • High blood pressure

  • Frequently feeling ill

  • Worsening of an existing illness (e.g., asthma, skin rashes)

  • Chest pain

  • Headache

  • Indigestion

  • Constipation

  • Stomach cramps

  • Sweating

  • Nausea

  • Trembling

  • Fatigue

  • Weight gain or loss

Behavioural signs

  • Increased smoking, drinking, drug use

  • Yelling

  • Swearing

  • Aggression

  • Avoidance/procrastination

  • Isolation

  • Changes in eating habits

  • Changes in sleeping habits

  • Nervousness (nail biting, fidgeting, pacing, etc.)

Mental signs

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Decreased memory

  • Difficulty making decisions

  • Mind going blank or racing

  • Confusion

  • Loss of sense of humour

  • Decreased libido

  • Inattention

  • Bad dreams

Emotional signs

  • Anxiety

  • Anger

  • Irritability

  • Impatience

  • Short temper

  • Frustration

  • Worry

  • Fear

What to do and how to cope with stress?

There are many ways how we can regulate our stress. There are some common ways that help manages stress. We will present some of them.

1. Get active

There are many ways how we can be active. You can decide to walk a dog more frequently or longer, or decide to use stairs instead of elevator, do stretching...You chose, sky is the limit.

2. Eat a healthy diet

Eating healthy actually means eating healthy foods more frequently than unhealthy ones. Aim to eat veggies, fruits and whole grain.

3. Avoid unhealthy habits

It is a known fact that we are prone to use substances, eat unhealthy, distract ourselves when we are under stress. Also, spending much time in front of TV or a phone, can increase the stress symptoms.

4. Meditate

Meditation can promote the sense if calm, peace and balance that can increase the sense of emotional well-being as well as overall health.

5. Laugh more

A good sense of humour can't cure all ailments, but it can help you feel better, even if you have to force a fake laugh through your grumpiness.

6. Connect with others

Social contact is a good stress reliever because it can offer distraction, provide support and help you tolerate life's up and downs. So, take a coffee break with a friend, email a relative, or visit your place of worship.

7. Assert yourself

You might want to do it all, but you can't, at least not without paying a price. Learning to say "No" or being willing to delegate and ask for help, can help you manage your to-do list and your stress.

8. Get enough sleep

Stress can cause you to have trouble falling a sleep. When you have too much to do and too much to think about, your sleep might suffer. But, sleep is the time when your brain and body recharge.

9. Seek counselling

Therapy may also be a good idea if you feel overwhelmed or trapped, if you worry excessively, or if you have trouble carrying out daily routines or meeting responsibilities at work, home or school.


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