Mental health is an integral part of our daily life, It entails our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. All these are very important to consider as it makes us who we are, and it affects our behaviours and how we feel and think. It also helps us to understand more about how we make decisions, relate and converse with others and learn how to handle situations.
We all experience stress, but it might help to differentiate between the good stressors versus the not so good stressors. Let’s not forget, every individual is different as are their personal experiences hence their stress levels can be a lot more different where some days can be better than others and vice versa.
Types of stress
There are two types of stress. First is those that provide benefits and motivation such as moving into a new home, entering into a new relationship, graduating and/or having a baby. These situations can present high levels of excitement and nervousness as it requires adapting to changes, both big and small.
Second is those that create long term effects such as heightened anxiety and in some cases, physical health conditions. These could be triggered by constant worries and feeling out of depth and out of control. We all like to be in control and when options become limited, it can lead to overthinking and not so good stress, so these are the ones that can be detrimental to our emotional well-being.
Benefits of stress
The increased benefit of stress is that it provides a sense of motivation to do daily activities and meet goals. Research suggests stress has a major link with providing the extra boost of energy to help us get through the day and become productive. Just imagine having that burst of energy to go out for a run or go cycling during the day or even playing sports with a group of friends and having fun together – these all evoke positive energy that is a counterpart of positive stress.
A secondary benefit of stress is that it provides us with the ability to fight or flight. The fight or flight response is when the brain receives messages like a warning system and releases chemicals such as epinephrine, norepinephrine and cortisol, leading to physiological symptoms such as palpitations, anxiety and increased blood and heart rate. These then give us the ability to move away from these stresses by placing ourselves away from danger and putting ourselves into a safe zone – a bit like retreating our steps to let a vehicle get past, so we don’t get hurt.
Effect of stress
Even though stress can be a good thing, it’s important to note that too much stress can lead to symptoms such as depression, inability to concentrate, mood swings, anger, anxiety, sleep disturbances and long term health conditions. It’s about finding the right balance slowly and steadily and that can be done by talking things through and acknowledging it’s okay not to be okay. Ways we can try to de-stress can include going for a walk in fresh air, so your mind can feel a lot calmer, being creative such as drawing zentangles or anything that inspires you, even just doodling can evoke a sense of letting go of the stress. We can also release the tension by doing exercise and releasing the adrenaline and excess baggage or even doing some soft yoga exercises and embrace peace and tranquillity.
Sometimes, it’s not easy to draw a line of where good stress ends and the not so good stress begins, but the key is to work at your own pace, in your own time and allow yourself to self-care on a regular basis by giving yourself breaks and words of wisdom and appreciation. Even giving yourself a pat on the back and saying well done can make a huge difference. Therefore, it’s really important to make sure you look after your health and wellbeing. Always remember, you are just as important as anyone else and well done for being yourself.
- RightLinesUK – They provide a web chat service from 4pm–8pm, Tuesdays–Fridays, and a 24/7 messaging channel.
- Self Injury Support – They offer specialist advice and consultancy as well as online peer support.
- Battle Scars Self Harm Charity – They provide online workshops for clients and families who have experienced self-harm as well as resources for professionals.
Taslim Hassan is a counsellor and psychotherapist.