Stress is “the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them” (Health and Safety Executive).
Stress is a widely used term, but when does stress become unhealthy?
Stress is our body’s response when it senses danger – our emotional and physical response to pressure. We all need some degree of stress to function but it becomes unhealthy when the demands on us outweigh our available coping resources and interferes with our day-to-day lives. If unaddressed, high levels of stress can lead to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety and also harm our physical health.
Our brain’s stress response is impulsive and leads to emotional and physical responses. As individuals we need to be able to recognise the signs of stress in ourselves and others, identify the triggers and causes to develop healthy coping strategies.
Life is a whirlwind sometimes and our internal stress buckets are full-to-overflowing with external factors that we have to juggle and cope with. It is crucial to take a good look at what is in that bucket and identify what we can and can’t control. Life events, illness (in ourselves and others), living conditions, work, home and family and demands we place on ourselves all add-up. Even events that are enjoyable (holidays, moving home, new job) can increase the level of stress we feel.
We all have unique emotional and physical manifestations of stress and the list of symptoms can be long and easy to ignore. We can become irritable, anxious, impatient, angry, depressed or feel hopeless. Physically, symptoms can include heart racing, breathing faster, tense muscles, feeling hot and sweat, headaches and having difficulty concentrating.
Our behaviours can also be effected, leaving us unable to settle, eating more or less, becoming more dependent on drugs or alcohol and having disturbed sleep.
So, what can we do to address our stress and ensure that it doesn’t escalate to a more serious level? Firstly, we have to identify our stressors and they are unique for everyone. What tips the balance for one person, will be different to the next.
Once identified, we need to then make a few changes to how we do things and how we think. Find what works for you in terms of finding a healthy balance. It may be committing to taking more time for yourself to relax, to do something you enjoy or practising mindfulness or relaxation techniques.
At West Kent Mind, we are big advocates of talking – chatting through how you are feeling can bring clarity and help to reduce your stress bucket. How we think is also important. Our emotional response to stress can result in unhealthy thought patterns and unrealistic expectations of ourselves. By recognising our triggers and symptoms and applying techniques to address our stress, we are able to by-pass our brain’s impulsive stress response, resulting in less emotional, more calm and considered responses.
So, whether it be an overloaded work schedule, the responsibility of looking after a sick relative, the end of a long summer holiday with the kids, please take time to look after yourself. Put on your own oxygen mask first!
Take care and please take a look at our upcoming events and courses!
• For more information on our services, please visit: westkentmind.org.uk.
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• email@example.com (for enquiries about courses for
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World Suicide Prevention Day – September, 10th 2019
In association with Kent County Council, we are hosting a free community event with a screening of documentary film “Steve” followed by an expert panel discussion. We encourage everyone to come along to this vital event.
When: Tuesday, 10th September 2019 7pm-9.30pm
What: Screening of documentary film “Steve” followed by refreshments and a panel discussion hosted by leading experts
Where: Oaks Theatre, Knole Academy, Bradbourne Vale Road, Sevenoaks, TN13 3LE
Tickets: www.westkentmind.org/ suicide-prevention-day – tickets are free, with the option to donate £5 to help further our vital work.
Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Adult 2 Day course (certified) – £155
• 30th September and 2nd October
• 7th and 8th November
• 16th and 20th November
MHFA Youth 2 Day course (certified) – £120
9th and 11th October
Details and registration link: westkentmind.org.uk/training/mhfa
Mental Health Awareness Day – 10th October 2019
We have developed a bespoke 2.5 hour “Address Your Stress” Workshop for organisations, up to 20 attendees. Please contact us for further details and prices. We will be delivering these courses throughout the week.