Stress is usually associated with not being in control of a situation or an environment leading us to feel uncomfortable in body and/or mind. It is a part of life and it affects everyone at one time or another. Stress is normal, a certain amount of stress energizes people consequently improving performance and efficiency.
When stress levels get too high, problems can develop and start to take their toll on our mental health, physical health and social/spiritual wellbeing, sometimes with dire consequences. At RMHI we refer to situational distress to explain those times in our lives that create extreme stress which can start from situations that are unresolved in our lives. If we are always saying things like I haven’t got enough time, I must get this done before…, I’ll never finish in time, I can’t get anything done; we might be in danger of moving from stressed to being distressed.
It is important to remember that what might be stressful for some may not be stressful for others. We all deal with things differently and have different capacities to cope.
How do you currently cope with stress? Are your coping strategies healthy or unhealthy, helpful or unproductive? Many people cope with stress in ways that compound the problem. Below are unhealthy strategies that may temporarily reduce stress but will cause more damage in the long run:
- Sleeping too much;
- Filling up every minute of the day to avoid facing problems;
- Withdrawing from friends, family and activities;
- Taking out your stress on others (lashing out, anger outbursts, physical violence);
- Drinking too much;
- Overeating or undereating;
- Over analysing;
- Using pills/drugs to relax;
- Zoning out for hours in front of the television or the computer.
Here are some tips that may help deal with stressful situations:
- Avoid the stressor. Learn to say no, limit time with those who stress you out (if possible), control your environment i.e. turn the news off if it makes you anxious, give the bookwork to the bookkeeper.
- Alter the stressor. Communicate your concerns i.e. Talk to a Mate®, ask for a behaviour change but be willing to also compromise, be more assertive, manage your time better.
- Adapt to the stressor. If you can’t change the stressor, change yourself, look at the stressful situation more positively, will it matter in the long run? If the answer is no refocus elsewhere, set reasonable standards not perfectionism, look at all the good things in your life if feeling stressed out.
- Accept the stressor. Some stressors are unavoidable, in such cases accept things as they are. This can be difficult but easier than railing against an unchangeable situation.
Finding and creating ways to relax when you are stressed out will also help i.e. exercise, get a massage, listen to music to calm down and/or … before it all gets too much … Talk to a Mate®!! Most importantly if you feel you are not coping, despite your efforts to do so, we recommend a visit to your GP before you reach a crisis point.
By The Regional Men’s Health Initiative