This is part one of a three part series looking at stress in our lives.
Thank you to Dr Katherine Preedy our clinical psychologist for taking the time to give use this incite.
Stress 1: identifying patterns
We’ve all felt stress at some point in our lives. I’m sure you’ll recognise at least some of the possible symptoms such as racing heart, preoccupying thoughts, churning stomach, sweating, appetite changes, headaches and muscle tension. At a lower level sometimes that tension is a helpful physical stimulus acting as a motivator to make some kind of change. For example, if I feel stressed about a work deadline it pushes me to work harder and achieve my aim. Without any stress at all I would have no internal drive to push myself. However, when a person is under too many accumulative small stressors, or a single extreme stressor, they may find that the symptoms actually prevent them from being able to resolve the situation. This is when stress can become problematic. There are lots of different strategies for attempting to manage stress but the first key to all of them is recognising that you are stressed and trying to identify what that looks like for you. Knowing what your own personal warning signs are is crucial. Try to think about some of the ways that stress affects you personally? What are your physical symptoms? Do you over- or under-eat? Do you find you can’t sleep or wake ruminating on an issue? Do you get irritable or withdraw into yourself? What kind of thinking patterns do you notice? How do you act differently? What do you do more or less of? Once you’ve recognised your own personal stress signature you can start to intervene at an earlier stage and address each of these areas in isolation.