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Stress management: Causes and effects

It can be difficult and overwhelming to feel stressed. This is especially true if you don’t know why it’s happening or what you can do about it. We’ve decided to compile some information in the hopes that it brings clarity and potential help for you to understand and manage it. 

What causes stress?

Stress is usually triggered by events in your life that cause you to worry. As everyone’s lives, physiologies, and mindsets are different, it would depend on your circumstances to consider where this is coming from. There might be one big cause of stress, or it could be a build-up of multiple smaller pressures. Some causes usually include:
  • Experiencing a lot of pressure
  • Being faced with big changes in your life
  • Worrying about certain past/upcoming events
  • Not having control over an outcome of a situation
  • Having responsibilities that are overwhelming
  • Not having enough activities, work, or change in your life
  • Experiencing times of uncertainty

What are the effects of stress?

Symptoms of stress aren’t cut-and-dry. They can vary from person to person, as well as whether it affects your body, thoughts, feelings, and behaviour. If you’re able to recognize the effects of stress, you’re on the first step to being able to manage it. Unfortunately, if you ignore these symptoms, they can contribute to health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, and more. Here are some effects that could arise:
  • On your body: Headache, muscle tension or pain, chest pain, fatigue, upset stomach, and sleep problems
  • On your mood: Anxiety, restlessness, lack of motivation or focus, feeling overwhelmed, irritability or anger, and sadness or depression
  • On your behaviour: Overeating or undereating, angry outbursts, drug or alcohol misuse, social withdrawal, and exercising less often

What can help to manage stress?

Taking steps to help manage your stress can make a world of difference. They can help you to reduce your stress, improve your health, and help you to feel more at peace. Various stress management strategies exist and not everything would be suitable for every person, but it’s worth a try if it’s something that you feel might help. Some examples include:
  • Get regular physical activity
  • Practice relaxation techniques (deep breathing, meditation, massage, yoga)
  • Keep having a sense of humour
  • Spend time with family and friends
  • Set aside time for hobbies (reading, listening to music, painting or drawing)
  • Get restful sleep
  • Eat a balanced diet
If you’ve taken every precaution and tried every strategy and you still feel stressed, it might be time to consider asking for outside help. Be it a doctor, psychologist, dietitian, or another healthcare professional, remember to be completely honest with them. There might be something that you were unaware of that could be causing your stress and there might be a solution with which you were not previously familiar. 
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