Island News

Assessing stress

Written By : SUN FIJI NEWSROOM. Stress can affect any of us at any time. It can be caused by a whole host of live events. And with life today
27 Nov 2010 12:00

image Written By : SUN FIJI NEWSROOM. Stress can affect any of us at any time. It can be caused by a whole host of live events. And with life today moving at a much faster pace than ever before, new stress factors, like the mobile phones, jet lag and other aspects of the twentieth century life, have been added to stressors that humans have dealt with from time immemorial.
Being under excessive stress plays havoc in life: you feel exhausted yet you can’t seem to sleep, your mind is whirring with 101 things you feel you should have accomplished, you feel unable to concentrate on work or enjoy your spare time.
Learning to deal with stress is very important, and not just because of these short term effects. There is mounting evidence of the part played by stress in ill-health. The links between heart disease and stress have been well-established for a number of years.
Yet a life devoid of stress can leave you feeling bored and under-stimulated, and leading too quiet a life can be equally damaging to health.
As Hans Seyle, the US psychologist who coined the word stress said, “Complete freedom from stress is death because all human activities involve stress.” Quite simply, we need a certain amount of stress to make us feel alive.
Achieving a balance between negative and positive stress is a major challenge for the twentieth century.
You need to have an active, practical plan for dealing with stress and transforming it into a positive force.
You need to learn how to assess the stress in your life, what warning signs to look for, and what events and situations are most likely to cause stress.
With this information you will be able to change your reaction to stressful events so they become more manageable, and thereby you can start to achieve a more balanced lifestyle.
On a practical level, you need to learn how eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and learning how to relax can help you combat stress.
There is no one way of dealing with stress that is right for everyone. You need to make it work for yourself.
Stress happens when we perceive the pressures of life to be too much to cope with and, as a result, experience mental and physical changes that threaten our well-being. No one escapes stress entirely.
However, all sorts of factors, including the way you look at life, the amount of support you have from those around you (your support system), your living situation, the views and attitudes of people you live or work with, even the food you eat, can influence your susceptibility to stress and affect your response to it.
The degree of stress that we feel is determined not just by the things that happen to us but in the way we react to them. Not everyone experiences symptoms of stress or goes down with a stress-related illness.
What seems to be the deciding factor is not just the number or seriousness of stressful events that happen to us but the way we respond to them.
For example, where one person might greet the prospect of organising their wedding as invigorating, another might crumble at what they perceive as the overwhelming demands on their time and energy.
The secret of dealing with stress is to harness it so that it becomes a positive, creative force rather than something that drags you down.
One way to do this is to train yourself to view stressors (things you find stressful) as challenges rather than burdens which weigh you down.
A first step is to identify the things you find stressful and become aware of how you deal with them. Once you have learned to recognise these factors you can begin to look at ways to prevent stress levels from building up and becoming harmful.
Many people find that their tolerance level varies at different times. Your state of mind, your state of health, even the weather, can all affect your reaction to stressful events.
For example, you may find that you are more likely to deal with everyday nuisances of travelling to and fro to work, like, public transport hassles, such as late and crowded buses, traffic jams, noise, and pollution, on a sunny day than on a raining day.
If you are a woman you may find you are able to cope better with deadlines and last minute meetings at work in the week after your period when you are feeling generally more calm and cheerful than in the week before it when you may be irritable and tense.
Becoming aware of factors that affect your response to stress will help you to monitor your stress level and if you find it getting out of hand, you should take steps to reduce it to a tolerable level.
Doing so will increase your feeling of being positively in control of your life and will boost your mental and physical wellbeing.
Sometimes the reason you feel stressed is an obvious event, like getting a divorce, moving house, losing your job, or experiencing a traumatic event. Such outside causes of stress are easy to pinpoint.
However, at other times the sources of stress are less clear, because they come from factors inside yourself.
Thus the feeling of strain when you feel overwhelmed by work may be caused by not organising your time effectively as you could.
You may need to spend time examining how you are feeling to try and track the cause of your symptom.
Stress is a major concern in the workplace. Stress can arise from several different aspects of work. The stress generated by the job itself is often linked to performance.
Provided you remain confident and use up the energy and tension created by the extra demands on you, this can be a source of health stress bringing with it feelings of achievements and recognition.
Stress can also occur if you are working in an environment or a job that you consider is not really right for you.
For example; you may feel that your abilities are over – or – under utilised, that your position and career path are either too predictable or insecure. Alternatively, you may feel at odds with the goals and values of the company you work for.
The immediate environment and actual working conditions can also be highly stressful.
A noisy office or factory, working all day at a computer screen, bad lighting, not enough space, the quality of the air, poor air conditioning, or inadequate ventilation can all be sources of your everyday life.
Managing stress is often easier when you are dealing with major identifiable problems rather than a mass of rather vague irritations.
Some psychologists claim that it is not so much the major events in our lives that get us down as everyday hassles, such as forgetting where you have put the car keys.
When you are under a lot of stress you are less able to cope with situations that you would normally take in your stride. So stress leads to a lack of coping, which triggers off feelings of even greater stress and being less able to cope in an ever-dwindling spiral.

Changes in your life
Many stressful situations are a result of change. Confusingly, sometimes the change is a happy or exciting event, such as getting married, having a baby, or falling in love.
All these situations can cause an upheaval not just in your emotions but in the practical, everyday details of your life.
Stress is often the result of feeling helpless and fearing that you won’t be able to cope with the challenge of a new situation. learning how to transform your feelings of helplessness by thinking positively can help you feel far less stressed.


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