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Cobble Blog

Let's Talk About Stress

Anything that puts high demands on you can be stressful.

Stress is the feeling of being overwhelmed or unable to cope with mental or emotional pressure. Although in current times many people are very comfortable talking about stress, many others are not. To talk about the things that are stressing you and how stress makes you feel can be just too stressful for some.

When this happens and we avoid the topic, everything tends to accumulate and our stress can escalate to dangerous levels where we become overwhelmed to the point of burnout. Reaching this point often has our body feeling completely exhausted and our mind can feel like a volcano about to erupt. Too often we still feel there is no way out and we continue running this way on an exhausted body and an explosive mind.

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Sound dangerous? Yes, it can be.

Ongoing, continuous stress left untreated can make you unwell and lead to serious health problems. This can range from mental health issues (such as depression, anxiety and personality disorders) to cardiovascular disease (including heart attack, blood pressure, stroke and abnormal heart rhythms).

A little stress is good for you but too much stress can be harmful.

Stress does not discriminate - it affects all of us in some way. We all handle stress differently and develop our own coping mechanisms to manage our stress. When the stress becomes too great and we find ourselves running on next-to-empty, our coping skills often go out the window and we continue to let more stress sneak in. Addressing stress can be done in small steps - you don’t need to fix it all in one day. Stress has usually built up over weeks, months or years, so remember that reducing and maintaining healthy stress levels will take time.

Tips for maintaining healthy stress levels:

  • Talk to friends and family about your stress

  • Write a list of stressors

  • Break stressors into categories

  • Find a hobby/activity that you enjoy

  • Take time out to relax your mind and body

  • Be kind to yourself

  • Seek professional help if needed

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Regular, brief chats with family, friends or colleagues is often a sufficient way to express your feelings and can help you to chip away at stress rather than let it build up. When we find a supportive, listening ear, we often manage to talk it out and resolve things ourselves. A non-judging, reassuring listener is a great de-stressor. Sometimes we find a listener who believes they know “exactly” how to fix you and, although well intended, they pass on their advice and beliefs that may only cause more stress.

  •  “Just tell her you’re not doing it! If they don’t like it, they can stick it!"

  • “Take up boxing classes, it relieves your stress - I do five classes a week! You’d love it, it’ll fix everything!”.

There's nothing worse than having someone else's thoughts and ideas forced upon you when you know it's not suitable or helpful for you.

Take the time to find something that you enjoy and start doing it.

This is a great way to start reducing stress. If it is something you enjoy, it will be easy to do and bring happiness and perhaps clarity of thoughts. From fishing to art, singing to hiking, pick what you are comfortable with. Others can make suggestions but only YOU know what will help YOU. Never feel selfish for taking time out for yourself three or four times each week for something that makes you feel good.

Perhaps you need to remove yourself from stressors. Take a step back and see if there is a way that you can minimise or avoid any stressors. You may be stuck in a harmful, toxic relationship or workplace, financial stress may need to be revised, health issues might need to be addressed. You may need help coping with your current work/family overload or support to free yourself from addictions that cause stress. You might like to write a list of stressors and decide if some can be avoided or completely removed - break them up into categories of smallest to biggest and start addressing them one by one.

A combination of these techniques can be helpful when experiencing mild to moderate stress. If you try something that doesn’t work, consider another option.

When stress becomes too much and you feel it is taking over your lifestyle, you may need to seek professional help. Seeking help can assist you in managing your stress levels and allow you to enjoy the quality of life you deserve. Reach out to a GP, counsellor or therapist to bring back the best you. Taking the first step to address stress is a huge achievement in itself.

Published January 2022.

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Shelley Carolan

Lead Counsellor, Cobble Counselling

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