18 April, 2009


Coping with Stress

Life is stressful, very. Whether you are at work or home, sea or shore, life throws all sorts of difficulties at us and these raise our stress levels. Stress can have a wide range of effects on us, from increasing performance to giving you a stomach ulcer!! Here's how to cope...

work stress

Is Stress Bad?
You may think that stress is inevitable. If you are suffering from stress don't ignore it, as left unchecked stress can have a major effect on your physical and mental health, as well as your career and family.

At certain levels stress can increase levels of efficiency and performance. Soldiers, athletes, actors and racing drivers all report feelings of heightened perceptions and energy levels, alongside a reduced sense of pain or discomfort. These physical changes are caused by the increased stress levels experienced and the body's natural reaction to them. Equally, if stress levels become too high, unmanageable, or are not dealt with properly, they can then have more extreme, and often harmful, effects.

So is stress bad? In most instances, if managed properly, with mental and physical coping mechanisms in place, stress can enhance your performance in work and leisure pursuits. You may have experienced the buzz of a job well done, or meeting a tight deadline. Equally you may also have experienced the stomach churning, palm sweating, chest thumping, sickly feeling that comes when stress takes too much control. Whatever your experience, it is important to note that stress can be bad or good, but how it affects you is governed by how you deal with it, or how you cope with the situations where stress arises.

stressed out

Are you stressed?
What makes us stressed tends to be very individual and we all respond differently to stress. Some of us get stressed over things that our friends just shrug off. This can raise our feelings of anxiety even more, thus reducing our abilities to cope with the pressure and making us even more stressed. Genetic make-up, personality and life-experience can also contribute strongly to how you respond. These responses can become a vicious circle that can undermine how we deal with life.

One thing you can do to help prevent or break this cycle is to be able to recognise the sources of stress and what affects you. Stress tends to fall into four categories, with their own "symptoms" and "signs": Emotional: Irritability, Worrying, Self-Doubt, Anger, Depression, Resentment, Nervousness, Frustration, Anxiety and Moodiness.

  • Physical: Insomnia, Upset Tummy, Back Ache, Neck Ache, Tiredness, Insomnia, Headaches and Upset Eating Habits.
  • Mental: Lethargy, Confusion, Restlessness, Forgetfulness, Inability to get things done, Pessimism and Poor Concentration.
  • Social: Isolation, Loneliness, Nagging, Shouting, Losing temper, Low sex drive and Not wanting to be social / mix.

So what do you do if you recognise any of these signs or symptoms? Recognising that you are suffering from stress is the first step to countering its effects. Once you know you are stressed you can begin to look for what makes you stressed. Some things, such as a screaming baby or a demanding boss are obvious, however some can be more subtle. For instance, are you trying to keep an immaculate household whilst having toddlers running around? If so, you may be giving yourself some quite unrealistic expectations.

You and Your Partner
Relationships can often be a source of stress. Our relationships change when we grow older and mature. This is especially true when children come along. We have to adjust to caring, loving and raising our children and this requires time and energy. Time and energy that we may have spent making our partners or ourselves feel happy and loved. Either partner can feel left out or unloved, particularly after the birth of a baby, as the needs of a new baby can be an immense physical and emotional drain.

Equally, stress can be a major issue if you and your partner are undergoing relationship difficulties, leaving you feeling tired and vulnerable with little energy left for resolving the issues you have with each other. This can naturally make you short tempered with one another, thus making things worse.

Some people may wish to get help in understanding each other, especially where separation has led to problems in the home. Naval Personal & Family Service (NPFS) and Royal Marines Welfare offer support and counselling for Service couples seeking help in this area. Alternatively, there are other organisations that offer relationship counselling if necessary. One major provider of couple counselling is RELATE, a nation-wide organisation, aimed at providing help with relationship difficulties.

info More Information: Relationships - Dealing with Relationship Difficulties

info More Information: NPFS and RM Welfare

website Web site: RELATE

website Web site: BBCi pages on Relationships

dirty dishes in sink

Family Pressures
Whether you are at home full time with the children, or balancing work and home, you are likely to feel stressed on at least the odd occasion. Your role as a parent involves a hundred and one different jobs… from nurse, to teacher, to dietician to police crowd control! Juggling all these roles can place you under tremendous pressures, and can lead to high stress levels. How you deal with these pressures will affect how you deal with the other aspects of you life. Take a moment and consider whether there are other ways you can deal with the challenges life presents...

info More Information: Parenting - Coping with the Work - Home Balance

info More Information: Parenting - Dealing with the Stress of Parenthood

website Web site: Families Online - Work / Home Balance

Money Matters
It's too easy to fall into the trap advertisers and businesses lay for you. "You need this to be happy", "our product is the only one your child needs"… Whatever your circumstances, size of family, or income, you are likely to worry about money at least some of the time. If you are worried about money, or unhappy with how things are, life can be very stressful. Some people find themselves with very serious financial problems; others may just get stressed about money.

Whatever situation you are in, help is never far away and it is important that you seek help before stress starts to impact on you too heavily, or stops you from coping altogether. Take a deep breath, count to ten, and consider what is the most important thing for you and your family. Seek advice regarding your finances if you feel this is necessary. There are numerous organisations that will give you genuinely free advice and guidance regarding your money.

info More Information: Financial

website Web site: Credit Action - Budgeting

woman sitting on cliff thinking

Stopping the Stress Take Control
When stress takes over, ordinary challenges can look like threats and serious events can seem unbearable. Take control where you can - you can't always change the world around you, but you can change your reaction to it. Focusing on the negatives, predicting the worst and blaming yourself or others can all take their toll. Give yourself a break.

There are several things that you can do to help yourself cope. For things that happen every day, it can be useful to think of your stress as a puzzle to be solved: Think about the situations that stress you, and how you behave.

  • Think about how you could behave differently in these situations, so that you would feel more in control.
  • Imagine how other people might behave if you acted differently.
  • List all the things you can think of that would make life easier or less stressful - write them down on a piece of paper. This can help you sort things out in your head.

Someone once said, "If you always do what you've always done… You'll always get what you've always got!!"

This may take some thinking about, but what it is trying to say is that if you do not change how you behave, you'll keep getting the same results. If something gets you stressed ask yourself these key questions...

  • Is it important? We often get ourselves stressed over the most trivial of things. What will happen if it doesn't happen or doesn't get done?
  • Can I do things differently? We all do things in different ways, but sometimes the way we do things are not particularly helpful, healthy or successful. Try another tack, and consider doing things differently.

two women talking
Getting Help
If your tap is dripping… call a plumber, if you are struggling to cope with stress... speak to someone.

Whether it's you mum, your mate, the Samaritans or a social worker, the main thing is you are sharing your feelings. Keeping your feelings bottled up only adds to your feelings of stress and increases its effects. There are numerous sources of support available for Service families, as well as the usual civilian sources...

info More Information: Parenting - Coping with the Work - Home Balance

info More Information: Parenting - Dealing with the Stress of Parenthood

info More Information: NPFS and RM Welfare

info More Information: RNcom Help Desk

website Web site: BBCi Web Pages - Coping with Stress

website Web site: The Site - Coping with Stress

website Web site: Mental Health.Org - Stress

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