In today's day and age, where our daily lives seem so busy navigating through packed schedules of work and kids, coupled with the rising cost of living, it seems as though people are struggling now more than ever with stress and anxiety. In fact, in 2016, 28.4% of Canadian Workers reported high perceived life stress (Mental Health Commission). How we cope and look after ourselves in these stressful times will improve our physical health and relationships and enhance our enjoyment of day-to-day life.
What are the signs of stress?
1. Changes in your body: Tension, headache, stomach ache, disturbed sleep, appetite changes or fatigue/tiredness
2. Changes in your actions: Increased use of alcohol & drugs, withdrawing from others, increased smoking, non-stop talking, short temper or fidgeting
3. Changes in your emotions: Loneliness, depression, worry & confusion, anger & irritability feeling blue & sad, hopelessness or suicidal thinking
4. Changes in your thinking: Trouble concentrating, lost self-confidence, lapses of memory, negative self-talk, negative attitude or poor judgment
The good news is that there are practical strategies that can help increase our ability to practice self-care. The Crisis Centre states that we first need to change the way we talk to ourselves by using "positive self-talk". Examples are:
"Negative: To be a worthwhile person, I have to be good at everything.
Positive: Just who I am makes me worthwhile.
Negative: Everyone has to like me, or else I'm not okay.
Positive: I'm okay just the way I am.
Negative: Every problem has to have the perfect solution and if it doesn't it's really bad.
Positive: There are many solutions out there I just have to find the right one.
Negative: People never change.
Positive: People change.
Negative: I can't help how I feel & I'm feeling miserable.
Positive: I can learn to control my feelings."
What we think and say to ourselves shapes our feelings of self-worth.
Self-care involves concrete strategies that need to be practiced on a daily basis. These can include:
Get more Sleep
Eat healthy food
Talk to people you trust
Work at managing your time
Make an effort to relax
My Health Alberta has more ways or "actionsets" to help you take an active role in managing your daily stress. Making a conscious effort to "stop and smell the roses" will only enhance our sense of well- being.
Submitted by Susan Malek, PCN Behavioural Health Consultant
References and Resources:
Informing the Future: Mental Health Indicators for Canada, Mental Health Commission of Canada, 2015 ( https://www.mentalhealthcommission.ca/English/document/68796/informing-future-mental-health-indicators-canada )
Coping & Self Care, The Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention Centre of BC, Accessed July 2018 ( https://crisiscentre.bc.ca/coping-and-self-care/ )
Stress Management: Health Tools, MyHealth.Alberta.ca, Updated December 2017 ( https://myhealth.alberta.ca/health/pages/conditions.aspx?Hwid=rlxsk#rlxsk-HealthTools )