Saturday, March 6, 2010

Stress Management

While weeding out very old magazines and booklets in my bookshelf, I chanced upon some which I have kept because I thought they were very educational.

Here are some tips from one of the booklets  I collected from the Health Promotion Board -  "Manage Stress Before It Manages You" - which I found very informative and useful. 

All of us experience stress in our lives. For others it might be easier to cope with stress. While others have difficulty trying to overcome the stress in their lives. But before we can do something about stress we have to know what stress is, what triggers it and how it affects us, especially our health.

What is stress?
  • a body's response to any physical or emotional changes in life.
  • includes the release of a hormone (adrenaline) in the body
  • Adrenaline causes an increase in heart rate, breathing and in blood sugar levels. It also diverts the blood flow from your digestive system to your muscles
  • Positive stress helps us to cope with problems that might arise.
  • Living under very stressful conditions for long periods of time may harm our health, our relationships and our enjoyment of life
Causes of Stress
Positive and negative life events can lead to stress.

Major life changes
  • death of loved ones
  • accidents
  • legal issues
  • relocation
  • debt
  • illness
  • marriage
  • pregnancy
  • new job
  • divorce 
  • unemployment
Environmental events
  • excessive noise
  • traffic jams
  • time pressure
  • competition
  • health epidemic
How Stress Affects Us Differently
Everyone reacts and copes with situations differently and thus we experience stress to different levels of intensity. Our body sends out various physical, mental, behavioural and emotional warning signs of stress.

Physical signs of stress
  • headaches, migraine, stomachaches
  • muscle tension
  • stomach ulcers
  • fast heartbeats
  • sleep disruption
  • loss of appetite or overeating
  • sweaty palms
  • trembling
  • chronic fatigue
Emotional signs of stress
  • anxiety and being bad-tempered
  • excessive worrying, moody
  • sadness, fear
  • feeling inadequate
Mental signs of stress
  • poor concentration
  • forgetfulness
  • lack of confidence
Behavioural signs of stress
  • acting in a defensive, aggressive or impulsive manner
  • nervous habits (eg. stammering or biting nails)
  • loss of interest in activities
  • avoidance of tasks
  • easily distracted
  • withdrawing from social activities
  • drinking or smoking excessively
How stress affects our health
Prolonged stress exposes our body constantly to the effects of adrenaline and will lead to many health problems
  • decreased immunity levels, thereby increasing our chances of getting colds and other illnesses
  • worsening of asthmatic conditions
  • increased blood pressure that will increase the risk for stroke and heart attacks and even kidney problems
  • digestive problems like indigestion, constipation or even diarrhoea
  • depression, nervous breakdown or mental illness
Stress Busters - what we can do to manage stress

1. Plan our time well
  • keep a daily planner
  • prioritize the most important activities and do them first
  • work through one task at a time
  • be careful not to overorganize
  • leave some room for flexibility or spontaneity
  • Planning ahead helps us to complete tasks we have prioritized. This gives a sense of achievement for the tasks completed.
2. Be realistic about what you can do
  • choose work according to own abilities and interests
  • focus on what you can do and not for the impossible
  • set goals that are achievable so you don't become frustrated or discouraged
3. Spread out the major challenges in your life
  • give yourself time to adjust from one change to another
4. Speak to someone about your problems
  • Seeking help is not a sign of weakness
  • sharing your worries and concerns with your spouse, family, friend, supervisor or religious leader helps relieve emotional burden and provides emotional support
  • call a helpline if you need to speak to a counsellor
5. Interact with your family and friends
  • family and friends are key components of our life who provides us with friendship, love and support in times of need
  • set aside time each day to talk and relax together
6. Learn to like yourself and think positive
  • be happy with who you are
  • keep a positive attitude and outlook in life. This helps you to accept what you cannot change and make the best of what you have.
  • don't be overly concerned about your looks.
7. Keep healthy
  • exercise regularly, eat wisely and get enough sleep
8. Make some time for yourself
  • do something you really enjoy
  • take up a hobby like dancing, painting, or a sport
  • take a short break when you feel tense or tire
9. Learn some relaxation techniques
These activities help relieve stress:
  • deep breathing exercises
  • meditation
  • massage
  • muscle relaxation techniques

For more information on health matters, call Healthline

Personal advice by a nurse counsellor
1800 223 1313
Mondays to Fridays: 8:30am-5:00pm
Saturdays: 8:30am -1:00pm

24-hour pre-recorded health information service     1800 848 1313

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