Managing your stress levels

Identifying your stress zones is vital to a healthy lifestyle. The Priory Hospital have recently designed an informative image to help you or somebody you know.

black and white image of woman looking down Almost everyone feels stressed at some time or other in their lives. It may be because of pressure at work, issues in a relationship, problems with dealing with our children, or simply by feeling overwhelmed by money matters.  Different people have different triggers and everyone also has different thresholds - so what one person may find unbearably stressful might not bother someone else at all. Having said this, stress is definitely one of today’s biggest issues in the working world with an estimated two million UK workers believing that their health is being affected by it.

The effects of stress
Stress can affect us in a whole range of ways and some of these can even be helpful. For example, a moderate level can help us to think more clearly and act more decisively. The issues arise when stress rises above a level that we can deal with comfortably and this is when the effects can start to show themselves both physically and mentally. For example physical symptoms can include headaches and migraines, high blood pressure and irritable bowel syndrome while it may manifest itself mentally as irritability and insomnia.

If stress is allowed to develop still further then it can lead to far more serious mental health conditions like  anxiety and depression  leading to panic attacks as well as thoughts of self-harm and suicide. Many people also turn to drink or drugs to help them cope with the pressure that they feel they are under.  

This diagram of stress zones shows some typical stress levels that many of us experience – and it’s also a good scale of reference to see what you should do about it. If you’d like to download and share it then just click here.  

Don’t leave it too late
If you feel yourself getting so stressed that it’s affecting your work or relationships it’s important to stand back and decide that it’s time to do something about it before the effects escalate. Some of the simplest things to do are to find ways to relax, for example by taking up yoga or meditation, getting into a routine of moderate exercise or cutting down on any commitments that aren’t 100% vital.

Sometimes the pressure is just too much to cope with by yourself and then it’s time to talk to your GP and explore other options and therapies that may be available. If the situation’s particularly acute then you might benefit from expert care , specific stress counselling and hiking.

So while stress will always be with us, there’s no reason why it should dominate you. Like many things in life, it’s simply a case of being aware of how we’re feeling and having the tools and support to keep it under control.  

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