The importance of routine stress management is a topic that has gained increasing attention of people in the search for a better mental health.
Stress can be defined as the imbalance, real or perceived, between the demands of the circumstances in which the person finds themselves and the individual's ability to adapt or respond to those demands.
Therefore, in a stressful situation, there is a threat that disturbs the individual's state of balance. Thus, our body will try to adapt in order to face this threat. And it is in this effort that several of the symptoms that we associate with stress arise.
When we feel in real or imagined danger, the body's defenses react quickly, in an automatic process known as a "fight or flight" or "freeze" reaction - this is the response to stress. During this response, the heart rate increases, breathing becomes faster, the muscles contract and blood pressure increases. This way, the organism is ready to act and prevent us from getting hurt.
The body is designed to deal with small amounts of stress, mainly channeled to a single moment. However, we are not equipped to deal with long-term stress on an ongoing basis. We can get tired without responsiveness. And the body can suffer from it.
Initially, stress can be positive. But beyond a certain level, it ceases to be beneficial and begins to seriously damage health (eustress and distress).
We can distinguish two types of stress: + «Positive» stress: it represents an "ideal stimulation zone" and allows for good physical and intellectual performances; - «Negative stress»: located on both sides of the "ideal stimulation zone", it generates anxiety, fear, nervousness, irritability.
When someone is exposed to long periods of stress, the body begins to show signs that it is not responding normally due to an “overload” of the immune system:
Concentration and memory problems
Difficulty thinking clearly
Feeling of being overwhelmed - too many things in the head
Migraines and tension headaches
Muscle tension and body aches
Chest pains; tachycardia
Irritability and frustration
Inability to relax
Feeling of isolation
Depressed mood and feeling of unhappiness
Eating too little or too much
Sleeping too little or too much
Use of substances such as alcohol, tobacco
Nervous behaviours such as biting your nails or making repeated movements with your leg, eg.
HOW TO DEAL WITH STRESS
Coping strategies: process of responses at the level of thought, emotion and behavior that intends to respond to a given situation
Problem-focused coping (includes efforts to resolve the problem and change the source of stress): activities such as planning, seeking help and even inaction over a long period.
Emotion-focused coping (emotional management strategies, which aim to reduce or manage emotional distress): may involve denial, positive reinterpretation of events and the search for social support.
Effective coping strategies minimize the impact of stressors and help build the resilience needed to manage the difficulties inherent in life.
Identify external sources of stress (external e internal)
Identify and understand what is causing the problems. Separate those that will be resolved over time and those that we cannot do anything to change. The secret is to take control of those small steps that are within our reach, in order to lighten the load.
Review your lifestyle
Are you trying to take the weight of the world on your back? Is there anything that could be done by someone else? Could I relax more? You may need to do an analysis of what you are in charge of, make what you are able to do a priority and reorganize your life so that you do not have to be everywhere at the same time.
Build relationships based on self-help
Set aside time for leisure activities
Maintain a healthy lifestyle, carefully selecting your food, paying attention to your sleep and avoiding substances such as caffeine, alcohol and nicotine
A balanced diet, as well as drinking plenty of water, can contribute to a feeling of well-being. If you are a smoker, at least try to reduce tobacco and do not abuse alcohol and coffee. If, at first, they seem to be “escapes” from stress, in the long-term they may make the situation worse. Alcohol and caffeine, for example, increase the feeling of anxiety.
The Mental Health Clinic Isabel Henriques wishes you an excellent week ;)