Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Manage Stress

Manage Stress Before It Manages You

WHAT IS STRESS? Stress is the body’s response to any physical or emotional changes in life. This response includes the release of a hormone, adrenaline, in the body. Adrenaline causes an increase in heart rate, breathing and in blood sugar levels. It also diverts the blood flow from your digestive system to your muscles (e.g. leg muscles). This response prepares you for “fight or flight”. Therefore you will feel more alert. We all experience stress as we cope with daily events. Daily demands such as rules, responsibilities, decisions, changes, relationships, illness and money can cause stress.

HOW STRESS AFFECTS US DIFFERENTLY: Everyone reacts and copes with situations differently and thus we experiencedifferent levels of intensity. Your body sends out various physical, mental, be and emotional warning signs of stress. Emotional Signs of Stre • Anxiety and being bad-tem • Excessive worrying, moody • Sadness, fear • Feeling inadequate Mental Signs of Stress • Poor concentration • Forgetfulness • Lack of confidence LOANS BILLS Death of loved ones Accidents Legal issues Relocation Debt Illness Marriage Pregnancy New job Divorce Unemployment Excessive noise Traffic jams Time pressure Competition Health epidemic Major Life Changes Environmental Events WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF STRESS? Both positive and negative life events can lead to stress. Common causes could include: Physical Signs of Stress • Headaches, migraine, stomach aches • Muscle tension • Stomach ulcers • Fast heartbeats • Sleep disruption • Loss of appetite or overeating • Sweaty palms • Trembling • Chronic fatigue LOANS & BILLS

Behavioural Signs of Stress • Acting in a defensive, aggressive or • Avoidance of tasks impulsive manner • Easily distracted • Nervous habits (e.g. ammering or • Withdrawing from social activites biting nails) • Drinking or smoking excessively • Loss of interest in activities. HOW CAN STRESS AFFECT OUR HEALTH Prolonged stress exposes our body constantly to the effects of adrenaline and will lead to many health problems: • decreased immunity levels, thereby increasing our chances of getting colds and other illnesses • worsening of asthmatic conditions • increased blood pressure that will...

Stress Busters! 1. Plan your time well Keep a daily planner. Give priority to the most important activities and do them first. Break large demands into small, manageable parts. Work through one task at a time. Decide how much time you need for each job. Be careful not to over-organise. Leave some room for flexibility and spontaneity. Planning ahead helps you to complete the tasks you have prioritised. This allows you to have a sense of achievement for the tasks you have completed. 2. Be realistic about what you can do Choose your work according to your own abilities and interests. Focus on what you can do and not for the impossible. Set goals that are achievable so you don't become frustrated or discouraged.

3. Spread out the major changes in your life Give yourself time to adjust from one change to another. For example, avoid changing jobs, buying a car or a flat all at the same time. 4. Speak to someone about your problems. Seeking help is not a sign of weakness. Sharing your worries and concerns with your spouse, family, friend, supervisor or religious leader helps relieve your emotional burden and provides with you with emotional support. Try joining relevant support groups in your community. Call a helpline if you need to speak to a counsellor (see page 13). Interact with your family and friends Family and friends are a key component of your life. They provide you with friendship,.. 6. Learn to like yourself and think positive Be happy with who you are. Keep a positive attitude and outlook in life. This helps you to..... 7. Keep healthy Keep your body healthy and fit by exercising........

8. Make some time for yourself Do something that you really enjoy. Take up a hobby like dancing, painting or a sport. Take a short break when you feel tense or tired. Get up and stretch, or take a short walk... 9. Learn some relaxation techniques Deep breathing exercises, meditation, massage and muscle relaxation techniques help to relieve stress. (Refer to page 11 for the details.)

9. Plan your meeting and start on time Set the objective and agenda for your meeting and request cooperation from team members to be punctual. This helps reduce time wasted discussing irrelevant issues and waiting for everyone to get started. The extra minutes saved can be spent on productive work.....

Plan for festive periods or gatherings List the people you would be visiting and plan your time. Write down a gift list and purchase the gifts in advance, if necessary. If you are organising parties or social gatherings, prepare an invitation list and plan the menu. If necessary, make catering arrangement early. Plan your child care arrangement Be aware of the facilities, programmes and deadline for infant / child care / schooling arrangements. For working adults with young children, there are infant / child care centres and before and after school care facilities that will help look after your children....

The list of questions below are intended to help you realise how stress may affect you. The more ticks you have for “Always” and “Sometimes”, the more likely you are experiencing some form of stress. Please note that this may not be a very comprehensive diagnostic tool. If necessary, speak to your doctor or a mental health professional.

RELAXATION TECHNIQUES: Deep Breathing Give yourself 5-10 minutes to do this exercise. 1. Switch on some soft and relaxing music. 2. Dim the lights, if you can. 3. Sit down or lie down in a comfortable position. 4. Close your eyes and place one hand on your stomach right above your waist. 5. Take a deep breath slowly though your nose. Feel your stomach slowly rise up. 6. Slowly breathe out, gently through your mouth. 7. Focus on your breathing and feel the air moving in and out of your body. 8. Repeat step 4 & 5 several times until you feel relaxed. 9. When done, slowly open your eyes

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