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Identifying stress and how to manage it

Everyone feels stressed at some point in their life. Some stress is good for us - It helps us to respond to changes in life and is our body’s way of protecting itself from harm. However, too much stress causes harm to our health and relationships.

With the fast pace of work and home life, being constantly flooded with technology, and still wanting to have time to connect with those around us, our lives can feel overwhelming and stressful at times.

Don’t ignore your body

Long-term, low-grade or acute stress takes a serious toll on your body and mind, and it’s important not to ignore feelings of constant tension. By understanding what’s happening inside your body and learning how to cope will help combat the negative impacts of everyday stressors.

In a health care environment, the effects of stress on nurses can lead to decreased patient satisfaction, poor patient outcomes and increased mortality rates. To prevent nurse burnout, nurses and health care managers need to take steps to ensure a healthy and supportive work environment.

Work-life balance

Stress causes 1 million workers to miss work each day. Workers are ready to quit their jobs due to stress – which also negatively affects their life at home. Stress leads to consumption of more caffeine, smoking or more frequent exercising. The sad fact about stress is that workers don’t feel comfortable reporting it because they think it will either be viewed as indifference, weakness or could affect their promotion opportunities.

Work, relationships and money problems are common stressors. When you feel stressed, it can interfere with your daily duties and affect how you feel, think, behave and how your body works. Common signs of stress include sleeping problems, sweating, loss of appetite and difficulty concentrating. If you’re feeling more anxious than usual, constantly worrying or have a low self-esteem, you need to take a step back and identify the cause for your stress.

Identify and eliminate

Stress is not an illness itself, but it can cause serious illness if it isn't addressed in time. It's important to recognise the symptoms of stress early. Recognising the signs and symptoms of stress will help you figure out ways of coping, and save you from adopting unhealthy coping methods, such as drinking or smoking.

Stress may not be preventable, but there are many things you can do to manage stress more effectively. Once you identify the causes of stress in your life, you can begin to eliminate or reduce it. Sometimes all you need to do is close our eyes and take a deep breath.


Do you find yourself doing all work and no play? If you’re spending too much time at the office, it’s time to start making time in your calendar for things you enjoy. Set out dates to have fun, see friends or get involved in a hobby.

Participate in regular exercise

Moving your body on a regular basis balances the nervous system and increases blood circulation, helping to flush out stress hormones. Even a daily 20-minute walk makes a big difference.

Eat well and limit alcohol and stimulants

Many people indulge in alcohol, nicotine or caffeine to temporarily relieve stress, but these substances have negative health impacts and can make stress worse in the long run. Having a well-nourished body will help you cope better. Start your day with a good breakfast, add more organic fruits and vegetables, avoid processed foods and sugar, and drink more water.

Connect with supportive people

Humans are social beings and need to have connections with people to feel supported. Having face to face interaction with other people releases hormones that reduce stress. Try opening up and talking to the good listeners in your life.

Find a hobby

Do you enjoy painting, reading, listening to music or some other creative pursuit? Engage in activities that bring you pleasure and joy. You can also research shows that reduces stress and lowers your heart rate.

Practice meditation/yoga

Many people find exercises that focus on breathing and muscle relaxation to be helpful in relieving stress. Relaxation techniques activate a state of restfulness that counterbalances your body’s fight-or-flight hormones. Consider taking a  stress reduction course to learn effective, lasting tools to cope with stress.

Get enough sleep

The average person needs 8 hours of sleep a day. If you get less than 7 to 8 hours of sleep, your body won’t handle stress as well as it could. If stress keeps you up at night, try managing your day better to incorporate a nap or going to bed earlier. Limit TV or cell phone time put your health first.

There's no quick fix for stress, and no single method will work for everyone. However, there are simple things you can do to change the common life problems that can cause stress or make stress a problem. Find what works for you.