Testing for Stress and Taking Action
We all need a moderate level of stress to be able to deal with the challenges we meet every day. Without it we would lack adrenaline, our ‘fight or flight’ reaction wouldn’t kick in, we would be sluggish and would fail to perform at our best.
However, many of the enquiries we receive at AngerUK are from people who suspect or know that they are experiencing far too much stress and that their health mental and/or physical, is beginning to suffer because of it. If you feel that this could describe you, we hope that what follows will be useful.
Many common symptoms can be caused by excessive stress. If you recognise in yourself some of the symptoms from the following list it would be wise to look at the pattern of your life to see what you might be able to change. If you have some of these symptoms but are not experiencing undue pressure in your life, then for the sake of your health have a word with your GP.
Common symptoms of stress:
All of these and much more information can be found on an excellent NHS website:
You can even take an online stress test. The program will monitor your answers to a number of questions and advise you appropriately.
If you feel sure that your symptoms are caused by stress, the next step is to identify the stressor(s). The NHS website has considerable detailed information here, relating specifically to work conditions, but the situations described can apply in your personal life too. In general terms they are as follows:
Some of these are relatively simple to deal with, as all employers have a duty of care towards their employees. For example, it should be possible to arrange for an uncomfortable chair to be replaced. For some of the others you need to take responsibility for naming the problem and taking an assertive stance. If you have too much to do, you need to learn to say no when you are asked to take on even more. And that is easy to write and possibly very difficult to do, especially if you feel insecure in your job.
A generally high level of stress can be combatted by improving our mental and emotional resilience. The following 5 strategies are recommended on the NHS website. If you approach them with an open mind and try them, you can judge the results yourself:
Connect. Connect with the people around you: your family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Spend time developing these relationships. If you are lacking in confidence this can be a very difficult step to take. Remind yourself that others might be feeling just as unsure and timid about making contact. Concentrate on putting them at their ease and see what happens. Learn more in Connect for mental wellbeing.
Be active. You don’t have to go to an expensive gym. Take a walk, go cycling or play a game of football. Find an activity that you enjoy, and make it a part of your life. Learn more in Get active for mental wellbeing.
Keep learning. Learning new skills can give you a sense of achievement and a new confidence. Why not sign up for a cookery course, start learning to play a musical instrument, or figure out how to fix your bike? Find out more in Learn for mental wellbeing.
Give to others – not with money. Even the smallest act will count, whether it’s a smile, a thank you or a kind word. Larger acts, such as volunteering at your local community centre, can improve your mental wellbeing and help you build new social networks. Learn more in Give for mental wellbeing.
Take notice. Become more aware of the present moment, including your feelings and thoughts, what is happening in your body and the world around you. Some people call this awareness “mindfulness”, and it can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges. Learn more in Awareness for mental wellbeing.
If you can improve your general mental health and feeling of wellbeing you will be better able to deal with stressful situations.
Please don’t think that we are trivialising what can be a very serious problem. We do advise that you visit the comprehensive NHS website and follow up the links which are appropriate for you – there is no point in our simply repeating everything here.