What is Stress?
Stress is an imbalance between the demands being made on us and our resources to cope with those demands. Stress is not a diagnosis like anxiety or depression, it is a process.
Stress is neither good nor bad, it depends on our perception of the situation to whether we feel we can handle it in a healthy way. We all go through periods where we a certain level of stress is good, it motivates us and we feel like we are accomplishing things. We also can go through periods where we are bored and unchallenged or periods where too many challenges are thrown at us at one time, both leading to distress.
When we start to worry about the stressful events this can then become more serious for example symptoms of anxiety and depression can arise. Therefore it is important to learn healthy stress management techniques.
Looking after yourself should always be priority, this can be hard for parents and caregivers, however it is important to remember that you cannot take care of others if you are not ok, just like they say on planes, always fit your oxygen mask first before your child’s.
Here are some healthy stress management tips:
- Get plenty of sleep– each person requires different amounts of sleep, most people require between 7-9 hours, however listen to your body and try a few days where you naturally go to sleep and wake up to see what your body needs. Keep in mind sleep deprivation contributes to anxiety, sleep issues, and weight gain.
- Move your body– Find ways to move your body daily, whether it be a formal class at the gym, walking or cycling to work, or dancing in your kitchen, it’s important to move the body. Moving the body releases dopamine, the happy chemical in our brain and can also help to decrease excess cortisol (the stress hormone).
- Avoid caffeine– one cup of coffee can elevate cortisol (stress hormone) levels by 30 % in one hour and can stay in the body for up to 18 hours. If you’re an avid coffee or black tea drinker try to wean yourself by switching to green tea, which is much lower in caffeine or learn to listen to your body and notice the optimal daily caffeine intake for you… most people’s healthy intake is 1-2 a day.
- Learn to meditate– there is so much research out now on the positive effects of relaxing the mind and body on a regular level. This Forbes article outlines some of the recent studies. Daily meditation has changed my life, I’m much more calmer, present, aware of my thoughts and emotions. There are many relaxations recordings available on the Internet, you can borrow a CD from your library or you can sign up here to get a free relaxation recording MP3.
- Decrease your electronics/screen time– taking time to switch off from all electronic devices daily can do wonders for the nervous system. Scrolling through social media, your phone constantly beeping and ringing, having the tv on in the background all have different levels of stimulation and make it hard for the mind and body to relax.
- Stress Management Hypnosis– Hypnosis is a highly effective and safe way to learn deep relaxation techniques and ways to change your thoughts, feelings and behaviours especially toward perceived stressful events, you can find a range of stress management hypnosis on youtube or you can get a personalised recording made with a hypnotherapist.