How to Cope With Stress
Stress is a modern day epidemic that has serious implications on our health, from heart problems, insomnia and arthritis to anxiety, depression and eating disorders. Yet we’ve normalised it as part of modern society and even confuse our stress levels with our contribution and value to society. By looking through the lens of emotional intelligence we’re able to measure a person’s ability to cope with stress, how resilient they are likely to be and if their outlook is contributing negatively to their overall wellbeing. Here are some signs that your stress is reading dangerous levels and healthy coping mechanisms to reach for.
Firstly, not all stress is bad. Our bodies natural reactions, such as increased heart rate and surge in hormones, are there to help us focus, achieve our goals and maintain motivation. When these symptoms move from short term to long term however, we know we’ve entered into the red zone. Signs that you may have moved from good to bad levels of stress include:
Brain fog and issues concentrating
Increased intake of cigarettes, alcohol or medication
Difficulty making decisions
Weight loss or gain
Poor sleep quality
Feeling that everything is ‘too much’
Extreme reactions to normal, everyday issues
So, what do you do if you’re struggling to cope with work or family pressure?
Take a step back and review the source of your stress. Job? Family? Friendships? All of it? Write it down and get specific.
Get intimate with the inner workings of your brain. Often stress is magnified by the voice in our head, telling us we are going to fail, that if we don’t present well in the meeting we will be fired, that everybody hates us, we embarrassed ourselves, we have to constantly achieve or we will be deemed unworthy. Pay attention to what your voice is saying.
Shift your focus from what you don’t want to what you do want. Sometimes the best way to minimise the darkness is to turn our gaze to the sun. Practice self-love affirmations, think about that things going well, dwell on positive comments. You get more of what you think about, so focus on what you want.
Ask for help. You don’t need to do it all alone, even if talking won’t change the situation, speaking out loud can help us gain clarity and release the emotions that are building up inside of us.
Get down to the basics – food, water, exercise, sleep, connection. Make time to see your friends, to have quality time with your family and make space in your day to have a coffee with a colleague whose company you enjoy. Move more, eat for longevity not instant gratification, and write down all of your concerns and worries before bed so that they aren’t sitting on your chest while you try to sleep.
It might not be a convenient time to deal with stress but prevention is better than intervention. Our bodies will eventually give way under the pressure so decide now to make changes to live a longer and more enjoyable life.