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Stress & How to Cope

below is an article on stress that I read in an email I received Yogamatters.


I agree with all of what it says and I often incorporate much of what is suggested in what is written below.

“In a modern-day life where the pressures of life have become harder and harder and at a time when there is so much austerity in the country, is it no wonder that so many people are stressed and feeling overwhelmed right now? 

Financial pressures to keep a modern-day family are higher than before, and the ever-increasing housing market, which makes it harder for young people to get on the property ladder, is making many young adults living at home with their parents the norm for those in the twenties.

With the lack of funding for mental health services and year by year cuts to our social care budget, this means those that are on the basic living wage are unable to access care and support outside of the increasing waiting list of the NHS. What does this look like for future generations to come?

What can we do to ensure that we’re managing our stress levels and knowing what tools to turn to when we’re not coping?

Why do we get stressed?

There are many times in each individual’s life, where they have allowed themselves to become stressed and not able to cope. If you were to ask anyone of them what lead them to this point, they would be able to give you a multitude of reasons why this happened, so why is it such a difficult task to spot the build-up and only realise when you’re in a crisis?

My own personal experience has been that I’ve ignored all the warning signs that I know about myself, believing that I will “just get better at coping soon” or this “won’t last forever”.

What tends to happen when I’m becoming too over-stretched in all areas of my life is that I start to suffer with feelings of fatigue; I start to have poor sleep routines; there can be a change in my diet (tendency to crave sugary products); I can start to become emotionally sensitive and intolerant to those close around me – unfortunately, that tends to be my work colleagues.

How do we fight off the stress?

Feeling stressed is the body’s natural response to warn you that physically, psychologically and emotionally, you’re doing too much or not managing. Listening to your body is a way to pick up on early signals to show you to slow down or take a break. My work as a talking therapist has shown me how the practice of mindfulness is a great tool to become tuned into what our bodies are trying to tell us. Simple daily practices such as body scans, which can be easily taught and practised anywhere and at any time, can allow us to connect with what could be happening for us and start us on the road back to self-care and maintaining a balanced life.

Spending too much time in the fight-flight response of the body will have a detrimental impact on your whole wellbeing. We know from research and studies that too much adrenaline and cortisol – the body’s natural stress response hormones – can cause short- and long-term health consequences.

Turning to a yoga or mediation practice can help neutralise these stress hormones. Yoga is becoming more accessible now, with it even being in most gyms. Headspace is one of my favourite Apps that I recommend to a lot of my clients, as it is so easy and user friendly for those who haven’t used any meditation or breathing exercises before.

Having a healthy work life balance is essential to maintaining a good level of self-care, to stop the overload eg. ensuring you take a lunch break. It’s surprising how many working professionals these days don’t take a lunch break. When I say lunch break, I don’t mean eating lunch at the desk reading emails or grabbing something quick in between jobs. I mean getting up and out of the office or workplace and taking the time away from that environment. 

Having enough holidays and taking all your annual leave is vital too. Again, I’m shocked when I hear people say they didn’t use all their holiday entitlement last year, yet wonder why they feel so stressed or are not coping right now.

Asking for help

And then it’s important to be able to ask for help. I know this might sound obvious, but it isn’t the easiest thing for many people to do. Reaching out to someone close or those at work to say that you’re overwhelmed or not coping too well right now shows a sign of self-awareness rather than weakness.

Work towards having a good support network of friends and family around you, so you can offload to them about whatever is bothering you right now, or if this isn’t always available to you, then find a local support group, where you can be part of a community of people who all share the same common problem you may be experiencing.

If your problem is deeper rooted and you feel specialised help is required, then a talking therapist or life coach is someone who will be able to guide you through the issues you may be facing. These are widely available on the internet or through your local GP or your work may be part of an employee assistance programme known as EAP. 

We all know how important some form of exercise is to relieve stress and anxiety. Take time to be outside with nature. Find somewhere green and take notice of the trees and plants.

Take a day at home to read, relax, listen to music or indulge in that box set you’ve been wanting to watch for ages.

Being under pressure is a natural part of life, but becoming overwhelmed by stress for an extended period can lead to mental health conditions if not treated. Even though there are things in your life you can’t control, the list above shows practical things that you can do.

What I’ve become more aware of lately is to identify the triggers that can lead me to being stressed. This allows me to anticipate my problems and look at ways to solve them.

Let me share a few tips I’ve learnt:

·     I know mornings for me are my better time of day where I’m more productive and can get things done.

·     I have more energy in the morning to be creative and have better concentration skills.

·     I’ve learned how to prioritise my job list well, knowing what is important and what isn’t an emergency.”

·     I can say no now when I’ve had too much on and don’t feel guilty about this.

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Because of the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak, my face to face counselling services are closed until further notice.

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- Paul Carter