Stress isn’t a product we buy or even want to buy, yet we are all impacted by stress. We wear it on our faces, carry it with us to work and allow it to impact our home life. Stress is everywhere, some stress is good, some is bad, and some stress can be out of control.
Back in July, I wanted to know more about this elephant in the room we call ‘Stress’, so I sat down and interviewed Clinical Psychologist, Mark Thorpe about work stress, personal stress and home life stresses.
Mark began the interview by saying that ‘Stress is the spice of life’. This comment intrigued me… If it’s the spice of life, why do so many people struggle with stress, struggle to talk about it and struggle in silence?
When I was 10 years old my Dad went through ‘Burnout’. Burnout is stress in overload, everything becomes too much to handle, work, home, family and general life. I remember watching my Dad struggle with everyday tasks. He struggled to go to work, to be a Dad and be a husband. It was bad, really bad but Dad eventually got help. I think as a child seeing this happen it started my fascination with stress, why people get stressed, why we don’t talk about it and how to manage stress when it happens… because stressful times do happen, you can’t avoid it!
These are just a few things that stood out to me from my time spent interviewing Mark Thorpe about stress:
#1 Stress is good
Everyone needs stress, it helps motivate us, gets us out of bed each day and helps us work towards deadlines. Without any form of stress, deadlines or urgency we wouldn’t be getting tasks done or goals and commitments finished. This reminded me of doing my degree, if I never had a deadline for assignments I’d always procrastinate and never turn in a single thing. So not all stress is bad, we need stress.
#2 Stress can be bad
When we are under accumulate stress, this can become too much to manage. Stress for a prolonged amount of time can impact our mood, behaviours and thoughts. It may be because we have unrealistic expectations on ourselves, others, relationships and work which is causing us to feel this way. We can begin to manage this by accessing our expectations and re-evaluating them. Don’t let stress get out of control, check out your expectations on a frequent basis to see if they are causing you unnecessary stress.
#3 Stress can make us fat
I’m not sure about you but when I’ve had a stressful day the one thing I’ve wanted to do is reach for the takeaway menu, get myself a sweet treat and enjoy a glass of wine. When we are stressed the ‘stress hormone’ cortisol rises, which can create higher insulin levels, your blood sugar drops and you crave sugary, fatty foods. While this is what we may feel like doing, it often only leaves us feeling worse, especially if we have had stress for a prolonged period, this isn’t ideal for the waistline. So, if you are feeling this way, try and reach for healthier alternatives a hot chicken from the supermarket instead of takeaways, healthier snacks of nuts, seeds, hummus or fruit and a cup of tea instead of wine at night. It may not sound as exciting, but your body will thank you for it.
#4 We can manage stress
The most helpful thing to know about stress is that while it will affect all of us, we can all do something about it. This is often referred to as ‘Self-care’. This is where you take time each day or week to look after yourself. It may seem ‘airy fairy’ to some people but I’ve found when everything seems too much, and stress is overwhelming, take a break, even for 5 minutes, and do something for yourself.
Self-care can include many different activities and exercises. Examples of these self-care activities are:
- Prayer and meditation
- Mindfulness and being present
- Yoga, relaxation and listening to soothing music
- Going for a walk
- Eating healthy and nutritious foods
- Having a massage
- Reading a book
- Catching up with friends
- Watching a movie
- Having a technology/social media free day
#5 Talk about it
Many people struggle in silence if they are feeling stressed and overwhelmed but there is no shame in asking for help. If a task is too big, deadlines looming are too much and crunch time at work is causing you to crumble, talk about it. Talk to your boss, talk with your colleagues and talk with your family. It’s been said that a problem shared is a problem halved. Those close to you may not have had any idea you are feeling stressed, so let them know. They may be able to help and even if they can’t directly change the situation, they will be able to understand your situation more. It’s often helpful to speak with someone when you are struggling with stress. Just the process of talking with someone you trust can help you gain a new perspective and help identify what could be causing the stress.
Stop letting stress be that awkward elephant in the room, talk about it, manage it and be open to letting people help you.
If you would like to see the full interview with Clinical Psychologist, Mark Thorpe you can – Watch Here
or to complete our E-Course called the Stress Factor – Start Here