Stress. A six-letter word that nobody is immune to. It may be defined as the body’s natural response to pressure; this response can produce physical and emotional responses which are caused by different situations/events.
We all experience stress on a daily basis; from trivial issues to more serious stressors. The impact stress has on the human body is immense and has a consequent effect on the overall quality of life.
April is Stress Awareness Month. It is imperative to acknowledge how we may be affected by the stress in our lives and to learn strategies to cope with this.
Common symptoms of stress may include:
- Lack of concentration
- Heart palpitations, headaches, dizziness
- Overeating or not eating enough
- Constantly worrying
- Low immunity leading to frequent bouts of the flu
- Anger outbursts
- Having a sense of dread
- Feeling like your thoughts are racing
- Increased reliance on unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as alcohol, smoking and caffeine
Strategies to cope with stress
Here are some strategies that you can use to help you cope with stress:
- Practice meditation- Use guided scripts online or apps to silence the mind and be in the present moment. This allows you to pause and process what is going on at any given stage.
- Exercise- Engage in physical activity at least 3 times a week. This should become part of your daily routine. During exercise, there is a release of endorphins which acts as a buffer to the effect of stress.
- Get support- Talk to a friend about what may be stressing you out. Share tips on ways to cope with trusted others.
- Journaling- By regularly writing down your thoughts you will gain insight into your mood and behaviors. Research studies have found that it is effective in stress reduction.
- Seek professional support- If you feel that your stress is debilitating and is impacting your daily functioning, contact a clinical psychologist for assistance.
Kiara Sunder, Clinical Psychologist, Akeso Umhlanga