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Understanding Your Stress

In order to effectively manage the negative emotions and feelings of stress, you first need to have a clear understanding of your stress. Stress affects everyone differently and stress is caused by different factors, events and triggers for each individual. The first and most important step in managing and coping with stress is to realise that the stress emotions that you are feeling is a problem. It is recognising that stress is having a negative impact on your life and that in order to enjoy and live your life these negative emotions need to be reduced.

The point at which stress becomes a problem is different for everyone. When the negative emotions and feelings of stress inhibit your ability to live a happy and healthy life, stress is having a significant negative effect on your life. According to the Mental Health Foundation (2009), you need to recognise physical warnings such as tense muscles, over-tiredness, headaches or migraines that may be a result of stress. If any of the symptoms of stress, including emotional, behavioural, physical or mental, become too much for the individual to handle and cope with in everyday life, stress has become a problem.

Stress Tip
How do you recognise when stress has become a problem in your life? Does stress:
-Keep you awake at night?
-Make you feel unhappy in your personal or professional life?
-Result in physical symptoms such as headaches and illness?

If so, it is likely that stress is having a significant negative effect on your life

Once you have recognised that you are suffering from a harmful level of stress, you then need to be able to identify the underlying causes and triggers of your stress. Understanding what causes you to become stressed allows you to identify ways to manage this stress either through avoiding those triggers or reducing the impact of those stressful events. It is also important to realise that when you are already stressed that the number of triggers and causes of stress also increase. Therefore it is crucial to identify the underlying cause of your stress and not just the other factors that increase stress or are a result of an already stressful lifestyle.

When you have identified what causes you to become stressed, you can then begin to recognise how your body responds to these stressful events. When a particular stressful event occurs, how do you react? Why do you react this way? It is important to determine the reasoning behind why you perceive particular events as stressful and why you respond in the way that you do. This way, you can begin to identify ways to avoid or reduce these negative responses to particular stressful situations.

When stress becomes too much to handle in a person’s life, there may be no reasoning behind why a person reacts to a particular situation or event. In this case it important to be able to recognise when medical assistance is required. While many stress causing events and situations can be managed, reduced or avoided, when stress takes hold of one’s life, professional medical help may be required. If you are able to understand your stress, the causes that trigger it and the symptoms it produces, you will be more equipped to deal with your stress and be able to recognise when you need help.

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