Stress happens to all of us at one time of another. But what many people don’t know is that there are two forms of stress. The first is acute stress, which is very normal and usually a reaction to a minor upset/accident, or an upcoming event. The other form is chronic stress, which is much more serious and relates to consistently high levels of stress experienced over an extended period of time.
Good stress and bad stress
Mild stress is very normal and can actually be beneficial. This is because it can be a useful motivator. It prompts us to take action and do things that we need to do.
However, on the other handle, chronic stress can be seriously debilitating, affecting productivity and, worse still, your health. Fortunately, there is plenty you can do to help manage stress.
Of course, to begin with, you first have to recognise when and where you’re experiencing stress and what the causes are. A good way to do that is as soon as you feel worried or stressed about something, is to write down in detail what the cause is. Whether it’s a minor issue or a long-term concern, once you’ve done that, you’ll become clearer about what your main sources of stress are and when they occur. It’s these recurring stressors that are the ones you need to deal with, as these cause chronic stress.
You’ll notice that some stress factors are external, i.e., they are events that happen to you, while others originate within you (internal stressors). And if you are the source, then you can control them. Fears or thoughts about upcoming events are typical examples.
- Dealing with internal sources of stress takes practice. Here, it’s all about challenging your negative thoughts. That doesn’t mean doing it alone, however. Talking through things with a friend or counsellor can be hugely helpful.
- For external sources of stress, such as those to do with work or a busy lifestyle, look at how you can organise your time better. Use a calendar and to-do lists. Look at what’s important and what isn’t. If you can cut out a stressful activity or reduce the time you spend on it, do so.
- Remember too that you have no control over some stressors, such as what your boss or other work colleagues do. So try not to become anxious over things that might happen as a result of the actions of others.
- Exercise is good for fighting stress. It can raise energy levels and help you concentrate on work, focus on what’s important and sleep better.
- Eat properly. Even if you’re busy, make sure you take time out for lunch (and a break from sources of stress). Try not to eat while working. Preparing your lunch at home is the best way to avoid eating too much junk food.
- Take up a hobby. A pursuit outside of work and family life can be very therapeutic when it comes to tackling stress and taking time out from stressful situations.
- Limit your alcohol intake to the weekend. Drinking to avoid stress can lead to bigger problems.
By removing just a few causes or reducing the amount of stress you experience on a daily basis, you’ll see a huge difference to the enjoyment you get from life.