In my previous post, it was reported that stress is now the most common reason for long-term sick leave.
Stress, and the depression that can sometimes accompany it, is not something that we should expect to have to deal with alone. Whether the cause of the stress is due to work, relationships or life changes, here are some things you need to remember:
1. Self-care. You are the most important person in the story. No matter what the cause of the stress is, remember to take care of yourself first and foremost.
2. Pinpoint the problem. I know this sounds slightly obvious, but even if you can’t change the situation right away, knowing the cause makes you aware of the problem so that there’s always the potential for change.
3. As in pain, everyone’s threshold is different. You may have a friend who seems to live (and flourish) in a highly chaotic and stressful lifestyle, juggling work and family and volunteer work. However, you are not your friend, and it’s okay to say that you’ve taken on too much and to take a small step back. This is not defeat, it’s self-preservation.
4. Make sure it actually is stress. Stress is such a strong word, and it can be very empowering to some people to know that they aren’t failures and that there is good reason they’re struggling at that specific point in time. However, because it’s such a powerful word, it can often be a crutch that may be overused. Perhaps it’s just a new situation that needs adjusting to and once you’ve adapted it is no longer a big issue. This way you can save your resources to tackle the bigger problems.
5. Seek out things you enjoy that bring out the good feeling endorphins. That could be a zumba class near work or home (there is no need to trek half way across town unless you really, really love that particular class); acupuncture to give that calming and reenergizing feeling; massage to ease away the physical stresses; a local book club where you can meet other people outside of your usual circles; the world really is your oyster.
6. Eat well. A healthy mind and body makes an incredible difference to how you can deal with the effects of stress. If you are feeling run down, the chances of being ill increases and you may find that mentally it seems much harder to cope.
7. Finally if it’s getting a bit much, do seek outside help. This could be talking to a good friend you trust, a healthcare practitioner or a counsellor. Sometimes just a bit of release is all you need knowing that confidentiality will be kept. Other times you may need more directed guidance in which case a talking therapy can do wonders.
Photo credit: Jonatas Cunha via flickr
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