Stress is a series of sensations we experience when under pressure, threatened in some way or overwhelmed. Not all stress is bad and can enhance our performance; such as the nervous tension felt before an important meeting, exam or sporting event. Stress can present with a wide range of symptoms and gradients of severity. While short term stress may aid performance, long term stress can lead to diminished productivity and sleep quality which can also impact long term health outcomes.

STRESS RELATED conditions

Stress-related conditions include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Psoriasis and other skin conditions
  • Muscle spasms
  • Headaches
  • Poorly managed blood pressure
  • Mild anxiety
  • Irritability
  • PMS
  • Insomnia

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF STRESS

If you are likely to be subject to highly stressful  experiences or environments, it is important  that you understand the symptoms of stress. This will help you be mindful by stopping your mind from racing with thoughts about the past or the future. Reducing tension in the mind is also said to help release tension in the body.

Signs and symptoms of stress include (but are not limited to):

  • Agitation and frustration where you normally might not feel that way
  • Low energy
  • An over-active mind / experiencing trouble quieting your mind
  • Headaches
  • Stomach upsets
  • Feelings of muscle tightness / anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Lower self esteem
  • Increased use of alcohol or other substances

5  EASY WAYS TO DEAL WITH STRESS

It is important to note that if you are experiencing ongoing or unbearable stress symptoms then please see your healthcare professional.  If your stress is work-related, it may be appropriate to talk to your manager or supervisor. For lower to intermediate levels of stress, the below potential coping mechanisms may help during times of stress.

1. TALK TO SOMEONE

The anxiety and tension that accompany stress can often be (at least partially) relieved by talking to a friend, councillor or doctor. Having a sympathetic ear that you can share your problems with will not only help you feel better, it can also be a useful way to identify the main causes of your stress. Thirdly, it is a great way to work out strategies on how you can mitigate the source of your stress. Having a fresh perspective on the situation can help you see past the blinders we sometimes have on during times of stress.

2. RESIST TEMPTATIONS

During stressful times, it can be enticing to have a drink (or four) to calm the nerves. Alcohol and substance abuse are common coping mechanisms in Australia. These substances may offer temporary relief from stress, but only serve to amplify stress symptoms once their effect wears off. Do your best to resist.

3. CHILL OUT EVERY DAY

Finding activities that reduce stress, and forcing yourself to do them every day, is an important  stress management technique. However, the exact activities that help relieve stress will vary from person to person. If you tend to fire up and become angry or agitated during times of stress, force yourself to do an activity every day that calms you down and helps quieten you to counter that. Similarly, if you tend to  feel withdrawn under stress, try to make your daily stress relieving activity something that excites and stimulates you, something that energises and excites you.

4. DIET AND EXERCISE

There are a wide range of benefits from exercise. Exercise reduces stress. It boosts endorphins. It can help to calm the  mind  similar to meditation. It boosts mood. Whilst exercise of almost any type can help reduce stress, aiming to get 45 minutes of high intensity exercise 3 times or more per week can work wonders for your ability to deal with stress.

Eating a healthy balanced diet  is another important way to deal with stress. When you are stressed, your body has an elevated need for vitamins and minerals, making it all the more important that you eat a variety of healthy foods to support your health. In particular, your body may need increased levels of:

– Vitamin C (oranges, red capsicum, chilli)

– Vitamin E (almonds, tofu, spinach, avocado)

– B Vitamins (meats, fish, poultry, milk, dark green leafy vegetables or Super Spirulina)

5. TRY A SUPPLEMENT

We always advocate eating a healthy balanced diet over taking a multivitamin. However, during times of stress, we usually don’t have the time to create a meal plan, buy groceries and cook healthy meals. As such, a broad range multivitamin may help support your body during times of stress. Look for one that contains vitamins C & E, plus magnesium for relaxation, lemon balm (traditionally used to help rest and relaxation) and the B vitamins. Alternatively, Super Spirulina has been called “Nature’s Multivitamin” due to it’s high nutrient  content. Including it in your cooking, juice, smoothies etc can give an added nutrient boost to help your body deal with increased demand during stressful times.