Dr Mary Casey
Founder and CEO of the Casey Centre
Stress is our brain and body’s way of responding to any kind of pressure such as challenging or even dangerous situations.
Depending on the person’s perception, these situations are perceived as either good or bad, and therefore, even though the stress response is similar, it can be seen as either good stress or bad stress.
When people feel stressed by something going on around them, their bodies react by releasing chemicals into the blood (“fight-or-flight” hormones amongst other things).
These chemicals give people more energy and strength, which is a good thing if their stress is caused by a situation that requires extra energy and strength. But this can also be a bad thing, if their stress is caused by a situation that does not offer an outlet for this extra energy and strength.
Many of your body’s negative responses to stress can be offset with positive responses from relaxation. While the most effective way to fight stress will vary for each individual, here are things to try:
Look after yourself
A healthy lifestyle through regular exercise, adequate sleep and balanced, healthy diet will help your body to cope with stressful situations.
Manage your time
Set realistic goals and deadlines and plan projects in advance. Make lists and priorities, and schedule all the important aspects of your life, such as health, relationships and family. Talk over your concerns with your employer or human resources manager.
Find what relaxes you physically
Choose activities that help you to feel good, such as massage, yoga, swimming, spa baths, social sports, even sex.
Find what relaxes you mentally
Choose activities that help you to unwind and forget about your worries, such as reading, meditation, listening to music, relaxation techniques, going to the movies or taking a holiday.
Maintain good social relationships
Work on your ties with both family and friends. Spend time and laugh with the people whose company you enjoy, and who you can confide in when needed.
If work-related stress continues to be a problem, despite your efforts, you may need to consider another job or else a career change.
If a person needs extra support, talking to a mental health, occupational stress or psychological specialist or a professional counsellor may help. Some workplaces also have an employee assistance program or counsellor, which are useful sources of support.