Keeping Stress in Check

For National Stress Awareness Day, Jessica from our STAR Communications group, discusses the importance of managing your cortisol levels.

Stress affects us all.

Stress is a part of daily life, but it’s when we’re overwhelmed by stress that it starts to wreak havoc. According to a 2018 study by YouGov, as many as 74% of people were under so much stress in the last year that they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope.

From work woes to financial troubles, life is filled with sources of potential stress. It’s important that we work to manage our stress levels to remain emotionally and physically healthy.

Stress can be debilitating.

Chronic stress can affect your mind and body, and even exacerbate mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and psychosis. In times of stress people often find themselves using maladaptive coping mechanisms such as drinking and drugs to help them cope. While these may appear to provide relief in the short-term, they can have disastrous effects in the long run.

National Stress Awareness Day is a great opportunity to take stock of your own stress levels and think about how you can reduce stress in your life.

Stress derailed my life.

I used to thrive on stress. At its extreme I was in the office at all hours, working late into the evenings and even at weekends. At the time I thought that this was normal and I had no idea of the devastating effect it was having on my mental health. Putting myself under extreme stress derailed my life and ultimately I had to sell my house, leave my job and spend years in recovery.

I suffer from psychosis and stress is my trigger. Putting myself under stress leaves me experiencing psychotic symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations. These symptoms crept in slowly and became more pronounced over time culminating in a psychotic episode, and ultimately led to my hospitalisation.

Understanding the importance of self care.

I now appreciate the importance of keeping my stress levels in check. I have realised that balancing my workload and taking downtime are important factors in staying well. I see now that no deadline or work project is worth sacrificing my mental health.

Think about how you can manage your stress levels.

Taking a break from sources of stress, such as work or challenging circumstances, can be an important method of managing stress. There are lifestyle adjustments you can make to improve your resilience too: eating healthily, getting enough shut-eye and exercising can all work to help manage stress levels in the long-term.

While we can’t eliminate stress from our lives completely, we can work to reduce stress and keep it in check.

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