By Dr Uwakwe-mangse Hanna (MBBS, MRCS)
Have you wondered why you are always tired and so drained? Have you ever thought of just running somewhere and isolate yourself from the world?
I felt such intense pressure few weeks ago and I had to let go of many things that I was involved in including my weekly health articles and focus on only crucial things.
Stress is the feeling of being under too much mental or emotional pressure.
Pressure turns into stress when you feel unable to cope. People have different ways of reacting to stress, so a situation that feels stressful to one person may be motivating to someone else.
And also a situation that was stressful to you today may have been fun previously or may be in future.
Work, relationships and money problems which normally are life’s demands can cause stress and, when you feel stressed, it can get in the way of sorting out these demands, or can even affect everything you do.
SIGNS OF STRESS TO WATCH OUT FOR
Stress definitely affects the way you think and go about your day to day activities. Commonest signs of stress are
• sleeping problems like insomnia (lack of sleep)
• sweating unnecessarily
• lack of loss of appetite
• difficulty in concentrating
• anxiety or worrying too much
• low self esteem
• having racing thoughts
• losing temper easily
• excessive drinking and or abuse of alcohol
• unreasonable actions
• muscle tension or pain
Stress causes a surge of hormones in your body. These stress hormones are released to enable you to deal with pressures or threats – the so-called “fight or flight” response.
Once the pressure or threat has passed, your stress hormone levels will usually return to normal. However, if you’re constantly under stress, these hormones will remain in your body, leading to the above signs and symptoms of stress.
HOW TO DAILY MANAGE STRESS
Stress is not an illness itself, but it can cause serious illness if it isn’t addressed. Always remember prevention is always better and cheaper than cure.
It’s important to recognise the symptoms of stress early. Recognising the signs and symptoms of stress will help you figure out ways of coping and save you from adopting unhealthy coping methods, such as drinking or smoking.
There is little you can do to prevent stress, but there are many things you can do to manage stress more effectively, such as learning how to relax, taking regular exercise ( I had to re-register in a 24hours gym) and adopting good time-management techniques ( I kept a diary).
Studies have found that mindfulness courses, where participants are taught simple meditations across a series of weeks, can also help to reduce stress and improve mood.
There’s no quick-fix cure for stress, and no single method will work for everyone.
However, there are simple things you can do to change the common life problems that can cause stress or make stress a problem. These include relaxation techniques, exercise and talking the issues through.
Next week I will discuss the 10 stress busters you need to use when you feel you are under a stressful period in your life.
In the UK your GP of family practice doctor can refer you to a stress support group or advice you to talk things though with a psychologist.
Bottom line is stress is very common to human and can happen at any point in anyone’s life. The key to handling it starts with early recognising it and slowing down or talking through it with a trust worthy friend or dealing head on with whatever may have triggered it.
There is a thin line between stress and depression and you don’t want to fall into the depression corner.
See you next week.
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