Are you stressed right now?
Are you feeling a bit overwhelmed with life’s pressures and demands at the moment?
Do you find yourself overreacting or getting irritated easily towards your loved ones or those around you?
Are you suffering from sleepless nights?
If you answered yes to any of the above, you’re probably experiencing some level of stress. Unfortunately, you’re not alone.
According to a recent study by Medibank, there has been an increase in our stress levels over the past decade with the number of Australians affected rising from 3.7 million in 2007-08 to over 4.9 million in 2016-17. The research showed lack of sleep was self-reported as a key contributor (44 per cent), with other leading factors including juggling too many things (36 per cent) and pressures at work (39 per cent).
The research also discovered those affected by stress were more likely to struggle with their emotional health such as depression, anxiety, and panic attacks when compared to the general population.
Therefore, if you’re experiencing ongoing and extreme levels of stress, your emotional health is likely to be affected.
What is stress and what does it feel like?
The word ‘stress’ is thrown around quite a bit these days, but what does it actually mean?
Stress is often described as “feeling overloaded, wound-up, tense and worried, and occurs when we face a situation we feel we can’t cope with.”*
There are two types of stress:
Acute Stress is a type of stress that only lasts for a short period of time. While stress is usually associated with a negative state of being, acute stress can actually be a positive feeling if it motivates you to complete a task or perform to your best ability. For example, you may experience stress when sitting an exam, facing a deadline, or speaking in public.
If you’re experiencing acute stress, you may have an increased heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension. You might also find that your breathing speeds up and you become sweaty. These physical changes help you to react quickly and effectively to get through the situation.
In these instances, it should be easier to bounce back when the stressful situation is over and you relax and/or reward yourself.
On the other hand, if the stress experienced is severe, ongoing and/or presents a life-threatening situation, such as being physically assaulted, acute stress can actually lead to significant emotional health problems, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
Chronic stress is a type of stress that continues for a long period of time. It may occur if you’re experiencing situations such as ongoing financial issues, relationship problems, dealing with bullying, or caring for someone with complex needs.
If you’re experiencing chronic stress, you may suffer from physical symptoms such as heart palpitations, insomnia, frequent headaches or stomach upset. You may also suffer from physical symptoms such as anxiety, anger, tearfulness, or feeling overwhelmed.
If a number of stressors occur at the same time or one after the other, and you don’t have the opportunity or time to recover, your stress levels can rise and stay high.
Take the stress quiz!
How stressed are you feeling right now? I found a simple, but effective, quiz formed by Psych Central that can give you an idea of your current stress levels.
How do I manage stress?
If you’re stressed, it’s important to find suitable stress management strategies ASAP to ensure it doesn’t have a long-term impact. What works for one person, might not work for someone else. And each situation is different as well.
The first step is to recognise your feelings and identify the cause/s. Is there anything you can do to reduce the stressor or fix the situation? I suggest writing down your worries and concerns, considering what needs your immediate attention, and focusing on a few small steps that may be helpful and within your control. Take your time and evaluate your options, and make the commitment to try at least one of your solutions.
You can also try:
Learning relaxation techniques – link to my mindfulness blog
Sleeping for a minimum of 7-8 hours each night – link to my sleep blog
Talking to someone about your problems
Keeping a positive attitude
Improving your time management
Creating a better work/life balance – link to my self care blog
Eating healthier, well-balanced meals
Remember your personal values. What is important and most meaningful to you? How do you want to be living your life? If a situation is causing you stress and is impacting on your everyday life, it might be time to make some changes, let it go, or seek some professional support.
If you’re still struggling to manage your stress levels, feel free to contact me on 0404 032 636.
Do you need Counselling Support?
If you need counselling support, contact Kylie Lepri for a FREE 15-minute phone call to discuss your situation and find out how she can help. Call us now on 0404 032636 or book your free phone call online.
Kylie Lepri is a registered Counsellor, Psychotherapist, Clinical Supervisor, and Training Consultant. Since 2003 she has helped individuals and couples work through life stressors, develop new goals and create better relationships. Get Kylie’s FREE ebook: 5 Proven Strategies to help manage stress today, by joining her newsletter below.