Tool 20 – Stress awareness.
Stress is very much a state of mind and links with our perception; that is how we perceive and respond to various life events. Stress can manifest in many ways and it is useful to be aware of these potential signs and symptoms. Awareness is the key to managing stress.
How do you know when your stress levels are rising? Look at the list of potential signs and symptoms below (physical, mental, emotional, and behavioural). You can make a note of those which may be indicators for you.
Physical symptoms may include:
- Shoulder tension
- Skin disorders
- Chest pain
- Increased heart rate
- Nervous indigestion
- Fast shallow breathing
- Yawning or sighing a lot
- Increased blood pressure
- Clenched jaw
Mental symptoms may include:
- Irrational thoughts
- Mental fatigue
- Poor decision making
- Low self esteem and self-worth
- Excessive self-criticism
- Critical of self and others
- Negative outlook of life
Emotional symptoms may include:
- Sadness /depressed
- Anger and frustration
- Fear and anxiousness
- Loss of hope
Behavioural symptoms may include:
- Eating more or less
- Drinking more stimulants, e.g., caffeine
- Drinking more alcohol
- Smoking more
- Excessive talking
- Picking at skin
- Grinding teeth
- Gripping hands
I discuss the subject of stress in more detail in one of my books – ‘The Complete Guide to Managing Stress’.
Available from Amazon and Bloomsbury Publishing.
Tool 21 – Hassle list.
Hassles are things that can trigger the stress response (fight or flight). However, something you find to be a hassle may be different to something I find to be hassle, because we all perceive things differently (and at different times). Examples of hassles may be the washing machine breaking down, the car not starting, the boiler breaking down or having to wait in a long queue.
Use your journal to write a list of all the things that hassle you and create stress in your life right now. Which of these can be changed or managed? Which would you like to change?
- Things that cause me hassle are:
- Hassles I would like to change (and how I may like to change them) are:
Tool 22 – Coping strategies
Coping strategies are the tools we use to manage specific life-events and hassles. These may include going for a walk or a run, or calling a friend to speak about what has happened or having a glass of wine at the end of the day (following responsible drinking guidance).
Use your journal (tool 4) to write a list of the coping strategies you may currently use to manage various hassles and help you to relax.
- Would you describe these strategies as healthy/helpful or unhealthy/unhelpful?
- Which coping strategies work effectively for you?
- Which strategies work less effectively for you?
Re-read your hassle list and create some additional possibilities for coping strategies – get creative! You can ask family and friends for their suggestions, e.g., what strategies do they use to cope with various hassles and stressors?
- Coping strategies, I currently use are:
- Coping strategies, I could use instead are:
A source of inspiration