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What is stress and how can you look after your mental wellbeing?

Stress is something that all of us encounter in one way or another throughout our lifetime. How stress affects one person is wildly different to how stress manifests itself for someone else. The definition of stress is a feeling of emotional or physical tension. Stress is your body’s reaction to a challenge or demand. 

Is stress bad?  

Not in all cases. Stress, when managed correctly, can be a driving force. An example of this is when we work or live outside of our comfort zone. This is defined as ‘eustress.’ Eustress produces positive feelings such as contentment, inspiration and motivation. 

The key, as with most things in life, is moderation and expectations being managed correctly. For example, if a work project has a realistic deadline, it will likely keep you motivated and feeling content. However, if you are working on a tight deadline whilst managing many other commitments, you are likely to experience stress in all its negative forms. This is because your resources, namely physical, emotional and mental, are inadequate in the face of the challenge/task you face.  

What are the repercussions? 

While more often than not, we see stress as something that only affects our mind or mental state, this isn’t true. Stress, when left unchecked, can manifest itself in various physical forms, from a simple headache to severe stomach issues, which are caused by specific stress hormones rushing into your bloodstream. As mentioned earlier, in short term bursts, this is harmless and even beneficial in most cases. However, left unchecked, this could lead to severe medical conditions. 

What is the best way to deal with stress? 

The worst and most damaging thing for a person who is feeling overwhelmed by stress is to hear the old troupes of ‘calm down and pull your socks up’ among other things. I’d be really surprised if the victim of stress hasn’t already tried this! The greatest thing about us humans is that we are all different. While this makes life vibrant and exciting, it makes alleviating stress an overwhelming task. I myself am very fond of sitting in front of my fish tank as a way to combat stress. I know people who find washing a car very relaxing and the best weapon at their disposal to bring stress under control. I heard a story today about someone who liked to do applied mathematics to relax – each to their own! The key in the battle against overwhelming stress is finding your own way to unwind and relax. 

As with everything in life, stress can be minor and it can be major. When dealing with minor bouts of stress, the above coping mechanisms will work a treat however, when it comes to dealing with a prolonged and chronic case of stress, coping mechanisms just won’t cut the mustard. As with anything, if symptoms persist, seek professional advice:

Contact NDGAI here: 

Mental health- feelings, symptoms and behaviours

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