What is stress?
Stress is defined as a state of mental or emotional strain caused by adverse circumstances. Almost 1 in 10 people report that they feel stressed every day, whilst the causes of stress are varied.
What causes stress?
In order to be able to manage and reduce stress, it is important to identify what the main cause of stress is. Work related stress was found to be the most common cause of stress. Additionally:
- Of those who reported feeling stressed in the past year, 22% of people cited debt as a stressor.
- 36% of women alluded to discomfort with their appearance as contributing to their stress, compared to 23% of men. Similarly, 49% of 18 to 24 year olds said that comparing themselves to others contributed to their stress.
- Housing worries were found to be a determinant of stress, with 32% of 18 to 24 year olds feeling affected by it, 22% of 45-54 year olds and 7% of over 55s.
- Younger people feel the pressure to succeed contributes to their stress, with 60% of 18-24 year olds and 41% of 25-34 year olds reporting so.
Impacts of Stress
Stress can have many detrimental impacts upon one’s health. Too much stress can become unmanageable and unbearable and various other implications of stress have been reported.
- Stress causes people to not think rationally and they therefore can deter from normal and healthy habits.
- People who reported that they have experienced stress, also reported that they ate too much or unhealthily due to stress.
- 29% of people stated that they began or increased drinking alcohol
- 16% of people began or increased smoking
- 51% of people reported feeling depressed
- 61% of people reported feeling anxious
- 16% of people reported that they have self-harmed as a result of stress
- 32% of people said they had had suicidal thoughts and feelings due to stress
- 37% of people reported feeling lonely as a result of stress
How to manage and control stress
Evidently, it is important to control stress to ensure it doesn’t get out of hand and begin to damage one’s physical and mental health. Here are some tips to implement to help to minimise stress.
- Determine the cause of the stress
In order to reduce stress, the root of the problem needs to be identified in order to take control and manage it. A lot of the time the feeling of stress being unmanageable can result in the stress worsening. Therefore, it is vital that you establish what is causing the stress to be able to find a resolution or a way to cope.
- Be active
Exercising is an easy way to reduce stress. Exercise allows you to focus your mind elsewhere and distract from the stressor. Additionally, exercise produces endorphins, the body’s natural mood booster, which can assist in improving mood and reducing stress.
- Make time for yourself
Dedicate some time from your day to yourself. Enjoy your favourite foods, see friends, or watch your favourite film. This is an easy way to ensure that you are still finding pleasure in areas of your life and the stress is not becoming unmanageable.
- Avoid unhealthy habits
Despite many people reporting that they turn to alcohol or smoking when stressed, it is important to avoid these unhealthy habits as they are merely a distraction for how you are really feeling. Alcohol can increase stress and paranoia so it is best to find healthier habits to deal with your stress that won’t add to existing stress.
- Get enough sleep
Being well rested and getting enough sleep can increase productivity which can reduce stress. If you are sleep deprived and are not productive, tasks can pile up therefore resulting in added stress. Additionally, sleep calms the body, restoring it to its resting state, and lowers cortisol and epinephrine levels.
- Try meditation
Similarly to sleep, meditation reduces stress by putting the body into a deep state of relaxation and gears our minds up to better handle stressful situations.
- Lean on your support network
Ensure that you have someone you can vent to and talk your stresses through with, whether that be friends, family or someone else in your support network. It is important to share your stresses so that they can be dealt with, don’t add up and become unmanageable.