Stress - What's That All About?

Here are some sobering statistics:

According to the Mental Health Foundation’s 2018 study (the largest stress level study in the UK):

  • 74% of people had been so overwhelmed in the previous year they’d felt unable to cope.
  • 46% of people said they ate too much due to stress.
  • 29% said they drank too much, or started drinking because of stress.
  • 51% of adults said they also felt depressed along with stress.
  • 61% felt anxiety along with stress.

So, what is stress? Basically, it’s our body’s response to demands – those can be external or internal. It’s a sense that what is being asked of us is too much, that our capacity to deal with something doesn’t match what’s being asked of us.

It’s interesting to think about where stress comes from. If it’s external it may be easy to see – you might have a busy job, childcare to sort out, a wedding to organise, a holiday to book, parents to look after – maybe far too many demands for the resources you feel you have available.

But what about internal stress? We can put ourselves under pressure just by the way we think, the way we evaluate, the things we infer, the way we look at things.

By ruminating on ‘what ifs’ and ‘what will others think of me’ we can cause ourselves to feel stress and pressure that doesn’t objectively exist. And of course, we distort reality – we see things through our own personal filter.

So, managing stress means first working out where it’s coming from. Then asking yourself – what’s in my control? Can I do anything about this situation? Can I delegate something to others – deal with the stressor itself? Can I challenge my thinking and find different ways of looking at the situation?

As in most things, self-awareness is the first step to change.

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