This edition of the blog was prompted by the fact that it’s Mental Health Awareness Week here in NZ. The theme this year is “Nature is key – unlock your well-being.”
Mental health is concerned with way we think and feel, and our ability to deal with the ups and downs of life. When we enjoy good mental health, we have a sense of purpose and direction, the energy to do the things we want to do, and the ability to deal with the challenges that happen in our lives.
Stress and Mental Health
Stress is linked to mental health issues such as problematic anxiety and depression so it's in our best interest to get better at managing our stress.
Self-monitoring is vital to managing stress
Getting good at managing stress depends on our being able to recognize that we are in fact experiencing stress. The earlier we are able to recognize when something isn’t quite right, the earlier we can take action including seeking support. Unfortunately, many people have become so used to experiencing stress on a daily basis, that it has become the new 'normal' state of being for them.
I used to be one of those people who didn't know what the symptoms were. It was only when an acute abdominal pain drove me to visit my doctor was I told it was stress related. The fact that my body was experiencing stress was a complete surprise to me, as consciously I didn't think I had anything to be stressed about!
So how do you know you are stressed?
Here are two ways in which you can begin to monitor your stress.
Take a stress test
The HeartMath Institute has a very good on-line stress and well-being survey that's free to complete. This scientifically developed assessment tool measures your stress-management, adaptability, resilience and emotional vitality levels, then analyses this data in relation to our 5 Aspects of Well-Being. Here's the link to the Stress & Well-Being Survey™. The site requires you to register but once you’ve completed the survey and downloaded your results you can unsubscribe if you wish.
I complete the survey every couple of months to monitor my well-being.
Develop an awareness of your particular stress warning signs
Everyone's experience of stress is unique to them. This should come as no surprise, given that we are all uniquely hardwired by our genetic inheritance, our experiences, and our learning. However, the range and type of symptoms is common to everyone. Stress impacts us in four ways:
- cognitive (the way think),
- emotional (the way we feel and our moods),
- physiological (the way our body changes)
- behavioural (the way we behave)
For a downloaded printable chart showing the signs of stress in each of these four categories, click here. Once you've familiarized yourself with the symptoms, make a commitment to spend at least 10 minutes each week tuning into your body and becoming aware of and, sensitive to, your own stress experience. The more signs and symptoms you notice in yourself, the closer you may be to stress overload.
If you identify that you are experiencing stress then it's time to be proactive and take action to reduce your stress level and/or build your resilience. Here are three steps you can take immediately:
- Relax deeply at least once a day.
- Exercise every day. Take 20 minutes of daily aerobic movement, preferably in the fresh air, putting you in contact with nature.
- Ensure you get enough, good quality sleep.
Asking for Help
We all get stressed from time to time. If stress is a problem for you talk to someone such as a family member, trusted friend or colleague. Loneliness is a big ally of stress, so sharing the burden is essential. If you feel like your stress is starting to affect your health, a visit to your GP may be in order.
Important: The signs and symptoms of stress can also be caused by other psychological or medical problems. If you’re experiencing any of the warning signs of stress, it’s important to see a doctor for a full evaluation. Your doctor can help you determine whether or not your symptoms are stress-related.
Helping people to reduce and gain control over their stress and anxiety is a passion of mine. If you'd like to explore how I can help you to achieve freedom from stress, then contact me today on 021 056 8389 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a great week,
Tony helps individuals to harness the power of their mind to achieve success and well-being in life, work and business. Tony's particular area of expertise is in helping people perform under pressure and gain freedom from worry, anxiety and stress. Tony’s solution focused approach to coaching uses a range of techniques drawn from the fields of co-active coaching, hypnosis, positive psychology and neuro-linguistic programming (NLP).