“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” - William James
You may not realise the serious implications that stress can have on your every day life. According to recent research in the Lancet Medical Journal, those who have high stress levels in the workplace and low control in decision making have a 23% increased risk of a heart attack.
Stress is caused by our body's natural “fight or flight” defences, releasing chemicals such as adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol into our bodies. Although this can be a fantastic defence mechanism at times, when these chemicals remain in our bodies for an extended period of time, they mean business, leading to Chronic stress.
Chronic stress can disrupt your life in many ways, as well as causing physical changes in your body, resulting in ailments such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), sickness and insomnia. It may may also lead to emotional problems such as arguing with relatives, lack of confidence and esteem, forgetfulness and even depression.
Luckily, Scientists and Psychologists have been exploring ways in which stress can be reduced and managed:
Firstly – Get organised. If that pile of work is growing, plan what you're going to do and by when each week. A good mantra is: Defer, Delegate, Delete. Be realistic and prioritise- don't load yourself up with too much work as chances are this will only increase your stress. Set yourself reasonable, achievable targets and get them done.
Secondly – Reflect on the successes of each day. If you managed to get through the tasks you set yourself, you deserve a pat on the back. If not, don't worry about it – just spread out the remaining work evenly through the rest of your week's plan.
Thirdly – Relax. At the end of a hard day, you deserve to put your feet up and read that novel you started 4 months ago and never got round to. Keep work within the workplace if you can. A few hours at home should be dedicated to spending time alone or with family switching off on a regular basis.
Fourthly – Employ some techniques to reduce your stress levels. Exercise is excellent for stress prevention, as is sex (lucky us!) ; so is seeing your friends and enjoying time with them- or even more focused activities such as Meditation and Mindfulness. Although this can be hard to grasp at first, there is plenty of help online such as .
Finally –We all get stressed at times. You are not alone. It takes some time to reduce your stress levels, but you can get there. The most helpful thing you can do is take a positive attitude and try to smile. Take each day at a time. If you're finding yourself overwhelmed by the effects of stress, seeking the help of a Counsellor or Therapist may help. Visit: http://www.counselling-directory.org.uk for more information.