Stress is an emotional and physical reaction to a situation and is a state so many of us are very familiar with. The feelings of anxiety, worry and being overwhelmed along with the poor sleeping or oversleeping, butterflies in the stomach, nausea and tension are common symptoms of stress. When stressed, the body thinks it is under attack and switches to ‘fight or flight’ mode, releasing a complex mix of hormones and chemicals such as adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine to prepare the body for physical action. This causes a number of reactions, from blood being diverted to muscles to shutting down unnecessary bodily functions such as digestion.
So what can we do about it?
First of all you want to recognise your early warning signs. I know when I start to feel stressed, I don't sleep so well, I feel emotional (more emotional than usual!) and I am more irritable. What are your early warning signs?
Secondly, you want to see if there is any action you can take to reduce the issue that is making you stressed. Can you speak to your boss about delegating some of your workload, can you book a babysitter to give you a break?
And finally, what can you do to reduce the feelings of stress? I have been supporting women for over 25 years to cope with and manage their stress levels. I know for me getting some fresh air every day, going to bed early and making more time for mindfulness practice really helps.