Stress is the body’s natural reaction when under pressure or threat. When we are under pressure, the body will try to protect itself through releasing chemicals to the brain, adding strength and energy. However, in some circumstances when we feel overwhelmed the body can shut down. It can slow down our reactions, slow our thoughts and feelings and enhance emotions.
For people who are particularly sensitive to stress, this excess energy can lead to:
- high blood pressure
This fact-sheet will look into the different symptoms of stress, relationship and work-related stress and techniques for stress management. We will explain how contacting a life coach can help you and how you can practise stress-relieving techniques at home.
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What is stress?
Stress can occur in different areas of our lives, including work, relationships, money management and during school exams. Recent studies suggest that it affects about a fifth of the UK working population and is recognised as one of the main causes of staff absence.
The feeling is often a result of us adjusting to change. Changes in our personal lives such as a new relationship, the death of a loved one or the birth of a child can affect our stress levels and if a person feels they cannot cope with the changes, they may require help and advice.
One person will handle stress differently to another, and being under pressure can sometimes have its advantages. When it is a positive influence, it can motivate individuals into action and increase productivity levels. However, if it is processed as a negative influence, it can have the opposite effect on individuals, leading to physical symptoms. We all have different thresholds - what might be exciting to one person, may be stressful to another.
Symptoms of stress
If you are struggling to cope with the pressures you are under, you may start to feel unwell. Symptoms of stress commonly occur in three forms - physical, emotional and mental. If you think you are suffering any of these symptoms, you may benefit from some sort of help, advice or stress management coaching.
Common symptoms of stress can include:
- pounding heart
- low moods
- loss of concentration
- poor judgement
- negative thoughts
- lack of interest.
Having the ability to manage your emotions and relieve yourself of the overwhelming pressures is an important skill. Whilst it is a natural response and cannot be eliminated completely, it can be effectively managed. Below are some quick stress management tips:
- prepare to the best of your ability for potentially difficult events
- ask for help from family, friends and professionals
- be realistic in your goals
- follow an exercise regime
- practise meditation
- eat a well-balanced diet
- try to get eight hours sleep per night.
Stress management from a qualified life coach involves helping an individual to understand why they’re feeling the way they are and understand how their thoughts can be modified to help manage the pressure. A life coach will explore the individual’s personal stress levels to help them identify when they may be overwhelmed. They will help them understand their threshold and advise what techniques could be practised in order to effectively manage the pressure.
Types of stress
There are a number of causes that either individually, or when built up together contribute to feeling overwhelmed. It can take on different forms in each of us and understanding how to cope with your stress levels will reduce the risk of developing symptoms. In order to experience less stress, you will need to identify the possible causes, these can include:
An increasingly common cause of stress in the UK is work-related. As a nation, we now work longer hours and generally have busier lives. A study found that six out of 10 individuals were working overtime, with 79% of these going being unpaid. As money is another common cause, it is unsurprising that stress-related absences are costing UK employers over £1 billion.
If you are experiencing work-related stress, it is definitely worth seeking support or advice. Whether it comes from a friend, family member, colleague or professional life coach, voicing your pressures and discussing your options will be the first step towards an improved well-being. Common symptoms of stress at work may include:
- low productivity levels
- lack of concentration
- dreading going to work each day
- trouble switching off
- breakdown of outside-work relationships
- feeling overwhelmed
- lack of enthusiasm
- feeling you can’t cope.
There may also be factors outside of work contributing to these feelings that you haven’t considered. A life coach will help you determine what may be causing your stress, or if there are a build-up of pressures overwhelming you.
Managing stress at work
Effective stress management at home and at work is critical in living a happy life. One of the key skills in managing work-related stress is knowing when to say no. Whilst it is important to show your passion and dedication to the role, you do not need to say yes to everything, especially if you feel you cannot handle it. Have confidence in saying no, it is a valuable skill and may improve your work life long-term.
Another skill in managing work-related stress is learning to speak out. Similarly to saying no, you can prevent rising your stress levels if you understand how much work you can handle. If you are struggling to cope with the workload, or are not speaking out when you are falling behind, the pressure can affect your overall productivity and quality of work.
If you are busy, you are allowed to say you cannot do what you have been asked to do. Make sure you explain your reasons and offer a solution - if you continue to do your work properly, and take on the new project later, your boss will respect you for handling the situation and keeping the quality of your work high.
Being in a relationship can cause everyday pressures for all of us, but some individuals may be experiencing symptoms of stress that may be a direct result of the relationships they are in.
Relationship stress is not only apparent in intimate or married couples. It is very common to experience relationship stress between friends, family, colleagues, managers, employees and even strangers. While a common cause of pressure in a relationship is arguments between people, there are other causes that may be affect a partnership. Lack of communication is one of the most common problems relating to relationship pressures. If you are angry or bothered by something somebody has said or done and you keep it to yourself, the pressure can build and worsen. The rise in stress levels caused by a lack of expression means it is important to talk about how you are feeling. This does not mean you have to admit everything that has annoyed you, but if you think it will eat away at you and return to the surface later on, consider having a calm discussion with the individuals involved.
Often relationship stress is not coming from the other person or people in the relationship, as many people believe it to be. A lot of the time, the actions of the already-worried individual can alter their thoughts and reactions. They may not be aware of it, but their own feelings could be damaging the relationship. Simply talking about what has bothered you can make you feel happier and improve your stress management within your relationships.
If you are feeling upset or angry about a relationship, a life/relationship coach may be able to help. They will offer support and help you recognise the issue and offer advice on how to deal with the situation. Whilst they will not tell you whether a relationship should end or who is at fault; they can help you understand what may have caused the problem, teaching you the techniques to managing stress within a relationship. For more information on how a life coach can help relationship problems, please look at our fact-sheet.
Recognising stress in others
Sometimes you can notice symptoms of stress in others easily; they may be acting out of character, look exhausted and be lacking patience. Other times, the person you know may be hiding how they feel, pretending they can handle what is happening when in fact, they are struggling to cope. It is important to know what symptoms to look out for, and how to offer help and support.
It is unlikely that you can change the situation that is causing them to feel this way, but there are many practical things you can do to simply show your support and let them know you are there. This may involve:
- Listen - Giving your friend the opportunity to talk openly about their situation can help them feel more relaxed. They may have been too afraid to talk about it before, so just being there to listen will be probably be an effective relief.
- Reassure them - When someone is going through a difficult situation, they may not be able to see themselves improving. Remind them that things will get better.
- Help them reflect - Sometimes, people going through tough situations do not recognise the physical symptoms they are experiencing. You may notice a change before they do, if they are showing any symptoms of stress, gently let them know and ask how you can help.
- Address the causes - If you can, try to help them identify the triggers and what regularly causes them to feel under pressure. If you have noticed what may trigger their stress, let them know but be sure to remain open-minded and non-judgemental.
- Look after yourself - We can easily adopt other people’s tension if we spend a lot of time with them. If you are trying to help them, keep in mind how you are feeling. If you do not look after your own well-being you will be no help to someone else.
How a life coach can help
Whilst there is little a life coach can do to prevent you feeling unhappy, there are many ways they can support you and offer advice. A life coach will discuss with you what may trigger these emotions, whether it is money management, housing issues, children, work or maybe other people. You may be asked to record your stressful situations, where you and the life coach can try and assess how your stress is caused and what techniques you can practise in order to manage it.
When you have addressed your triggers, a life coach may work with you to determine your stress threshold and how much pressure you can handle. You will be able to talk about your problems and what is on your mind. Sometimes this will be all an individual needs - but a life coach can offer techniques on how to cope with the situations that put you under pressure. A life coach will teach to understand when you are taking on too much and what stress management techniques are most effective for you.
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