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Setbacks part 2

Identifying stress

The earliest that you can spot stress the easier it may be to deal with it.
The more knowledge you have about your stressful situation will help with your motivation to deal with it.
The signs may include, physical:

  • Sleeplessness
  • Skin problems
  • Headaches
  • Chest pains

Or psychological:

  • Ruminating
  • Negative talk
  • Negative thinking

Or behavioural:

  • Mood swings
  • Guilt
  • Lack of enthusiasm
  • Eating disorders
  • Heavy drinking

Dealing with stress

If possible remove the stressor causing the problem.
This can be physical removal or just taking action so that the stressor no longer exists.

This simple scenario may not be under your control.
If this is the case you will need to take additional steps to eliminate or reduce the problem to manageable levels.
This may be the case for noise disputes with neighbours for example.

Stress can be caused by loss as well as the presence of a particular stressor.
Clearly, the loss of a close family member has to be dealt with as it can’t be removed.

Many great things in a person’s life are very stressful.
This would include getting married and the birth of your children.
These known stresses can be better managed by good planning and the anticipation of problems.

Planning could be used by some people even for extremely stressful situations.
In the case of a person knowing that they have a terminal condition it is very common to ‘tidy up affairs’.
Having reliable people around you is a strong bonus for any stressful condition and will help with your self motivation.

Once you have recognised a stressful situation you may be in a position to implement a plan that you have developed for just such an occasion. If you know that you tend to ‘ruminate’ over an issue and not develop solutions and a way forward try limiting your time for ruminating. Make a conscious decision to move to the next step of ‘what are you going to do with it?’

Social situations often cause stress for people lacking confidence to put across their views.
In this case, you may wish to consider improving your assertiveness.
Apart from simple techniques, for example, keeping good eye contact and not showing aggression you may wish to take up a self defence martial art. This form of training can give you tremendous confidence.

You may need to remove yourself from a particular situation.
Go to another bar to avoid confrontation, move house to get away from stressful neighbours, changing your job etc.
Dealing with stress is not about winning a battle but feeling better in yourself.

Exercise has long been known to improve stress.
However, this does not include doing nothing for five years and then running a marathon.
In this case, the additional stress on your body could be fatal.

Any exercise should be regular, enjoyable and structured.
It is usually considered adequate to exercise 4 or 5 times per week for 20 to 30 minutes.
You should be just out of breath but still able to speak coherently.

Trying to get fired up for any regular activity is better if you can do it with a friend.
This helps motivation to start and continue.

As well as exercise you should consider taking professional advice on a suitable diet.
This can be a catch 22 situation as stress can affect the way we manage our eating habits.
The basic formula is:

Energy in = energy out, weight remains stable
Energy in < energy out, weight reduces
Energy in > energy out, weight increases.

Get plenty of sleep.
Everyone knows that a lack of sleep over a period of time can lead to problems.
However, it may be easier said than done to ‘get to sleep’.
You may need to seek professional help if this really becomes a serious issue.
Some tips before bedtime that may help:

  • No caffeine at night in drinks
  • Keep to a reliable and relaxing routine
  • Wait until you are sleepy
  • Keep mental stimulation to a minimum
  • Get up at the same time every morning
  • Don’t keep looking at the clock

You may wish to try meditation techniques or yoga.
Develop hobbies to remove yourself from a stressful situation.
Keep good communication with your family and friends.