Everyone experiences stress, whether big or small. Some might even say that stress is a necessary evil in life. It is true that stress is unavoidable, especially in a fast-paced world like ours. However, not all stress is harmful. In fact, a little bit of stress might even benefit you.
When you gain interest in a new hobby or suddenly have the motivation to pursue a creative project, you are experiencing good stress. It is essentially happy emotions which lift your spirits and give you the strength to face the day. This type of stress makes you more resilient and focused on achieving personal goals. It might even help you get closer to others who share similar experiences. You can develop a sense of purpose and gain clarity in certain situations to overcome life's challenges.
However, when you are affected by excessive amounts of stress, you might face problems in different aspects of your life. These include your performance at work or in school, your personal relationships or even your financial health. High levels of stress also make you more prone to mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety. The three most common areas of stress include:
Financial stress: Worrying about bills, unpaid debts, taking on loans and paying taxes are examples of financial woes that cause stress. Making big purchases such as buying a family home, or a car are other contributing factors. Overspending may cause stress as you are trying to compensate for your spending habits.
Relationship stress: People express themselves differently and communicate in their own unique ways. As such, it is natural when arguments happen due to a lapse in communication. You may get stressed over disagreements with colleagues, family disputes or tiffs with close friends. Other relationship stressors such as infidelity, separation, and divorce may also be difficult for affected parties.
Parenting or caregiver stress: If you are a parent or a caregiver, you may experience high levels of stress every day. Whether you are dealing with a rebellious child or caring for a frail or terminally ill relative, the responsibilities that come with your duties can be very taxing. Parents or caregivers of a child with special needs such as intellectual disability or autism also tend to be more stressed than those who do not. While you may be a caregiver, remember that you deserve self-care too. Do not feel guilty about putting aside time for yourself to unwind and manage your stress level.
HOW TO MANAGE STRESS
Stress management is a key part of mitigating some of the effects of stress on your mental health.
Take a break: Sometimes, stepping away from a stressful situation can give us the space to recover and come back with a new perspective. You can do this in many ways depending on your circumstances. For example, if you are experiencing stress because of a fight with your best friend, you can try taking a deep breath, walking away from the fight and coming back to talk about it when you have calmed down. Another option would be to try journaling. By writing your feelings down, it may be easier for you to process them.
Adopt healthy habits: Exercising and sleeping well are some healthy habits that can offset the negative impact caused by stress. When you exercise, stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline are reduced to make room for the increase in endorphins, which are the body's natural mood booster. Not only do these healthy habits benefit your mental health, they can also improve your physical health.
Seek help: When you are under a lot of pressure and feel like the stress is starting to affect your mental wellbeing, it is time to find someone who can support you. It may be a friend, family member, or a counsellor. Everyone needs a helping hand from time to time and there is no shame in reaching out.
Are you seeking professional help for your mental health or simply need a listening ear? You may call the TOUCHline at 1800 377 2252 (Mondays to Fridays, 9am to 6pm) to speak with a counsellor.
TOUCH Mental Wellness (TMW) runs personalised therapy and counselling programmes to empower individuals to rise above their circumstances. An advocate of mental wellness, TMW has been organising mental wellness awareness mass runs, talks and workshops since 2015. It works closely with corporations to conduct mental wellness talks with an aim of equipping employees with handles to cope with stress and help them build resilience. It also specialises in mental wellness awareness and educational programmes for schools.
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