Stressed out: how well do you deal with stress?
Another day, another... awareness day. The first Wednesday of November each year is National Stress Awareness Day. This year, it probably couldn't have landed on a more appropriate day, as we watch wannabe-dictator Donald Trump trying to overthrow democracy in the US.
We all have to deal with stress because the body is fairly hard-wired to respond to threats (perceived or real; the brain can't tell the difference) by releasing hormones in a 'fight-or-flight' response. A threat can be psychological (preparing for something you don't want to do or someone you don't want to see) or physical (walking on a precarious looking bridge).
Your adrenal glands release adrenaline and noradrenaline and you might experience things like a faster heartbeat, rapid breathing or trembling (ever been 'so angry I was shaking' - hi, adrenaline!)
This reaction isn't always a bad thing. It can prepare you to perform well under pressure. But if it's being set off by perceived threats (this happens if you have a phobia) then it can, over time, have a fairly damaging effect on you. You might feel "drained" or experience headaches, sleep problems or even digestive issues.
We sometimes talk about 'stress' quite flippantly, but it's no joke. We're all under extraordinary circumstances right now and there's no rulebook. All we can do is to continue to support one another and make sure we're taking adequate time to protect our mental and physical health as best we can.
We've listed some resources for dealing with stress below and encourage anyone reading this to add another one in the comments section.
The International Stress Management Association (ISMA) has some downloadable resources to help you manage stress.
Ruby Wax has written extensively about mental health and mindfulness. We recommend her books, especially Sane New World.
Understanding how the mind/brain work can help you manage things like stress. If you haven't read The Chimp Paradox, it's a worthwhile read.
If you're stressed specifically by the current pandemic and its related challenges, the NHS has some resources that might help you.