HEALTHY LIVING:

STRESS MANAGEMENT
Everyone feels stressed from time to time. In short bursts, stress can be positive, such as when it helps you avoid danger or meet an important deadline. But chronic stress can cause both physical and mental harm. Managing stress is all about taking charge – your mindset, emotions and the way you deal with problems.
Stress management
Any event that places high demands or forces adjustment can be stressful. Even joyful events like marriage or pregnancy can cause stress.

CAUSES OF STRESS

Some common causes of stress include:

• Accidents and illnesses
• Death of a loved one
• Marriage or divorce
• New job or loss of job
• Pregnancy
• Retirement

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF STRESS

Stress can present in many ways, such as behavioral, cognitive, emotional and physical symptoms. We list some of the common warning signs and symptoms below:

Behavioral Cognitive Emotional Physical
Appetite change Forgetfulness Anxiety Diarrhea or constipation
Isolating self from others Inability to concentrate Irritability Headaches
Sleeping too much or too little Increased worrying Moodiness Tension in Muscles
Turning to alcohol, cigarettes or drugs to relax Poor judgement Fearfulness Nausea and dizziness
Loneliness Rapid heartbeat

FIGHTING STRESS

Stress is inevitable and cannot be eliminated completely; hence it is important to know how to manage stress effectively. This includes identifying sources of stress, changing the stressful condition or personal reaction towards stress and making time for rest and relaxation.

Since everyone responds to stress differently, there is no “one size fits all” solution, thus it is important to be equipped with a variety of stress management strategies for dealing with different situations.

TIPS ON MANAGING STRESS

Tip 1: Engage in daily physical exercise
Physical exercise can help to relax tense muscles and reduce the level of stress hormones. Exercise at a moderate level for at least 30 minutes on all or most days of the week. Any type of regular exercise is beneficial.

Tip 2: Mindfulness
While the source of stress may not always be within your control, what you can always control is the way you respond. Learn to be in control of the thoughts you pay attention to and focus on the current situation rather than the past or future.

Tip 3: Maintain a healthy diet and sleep pattern
Have a balanced diet and eat healthily. Take plenty of fruits, vegetables and grains. Limit foods that are high in fat, salt and sugar. Drink at least 8 glasses of water daily, and try to get six to eight hours of sleep every night. Having sufficient sleep allows you to be more productive, focus better, thus helping you deal better with stressful situations.

Tip 4: Plan your time well and be realistic
Organise your schedule by having a “to do” list, and prioritise daily tasks. Do not procrastinate and do plan in advance. Set a realistic goal for yourself so that you won’t feel discouraged or frustrated. Remember to reward yourself from time to time (for e.g., a movie or massage). Strive for work-life balance. Remember to make time for hobbies. These will relax your mind and are good escapes from stress!