Stress: Friend Or Foe? - October Health

October Blog posted in Mental Health

Stress: Friend or foe?

Feeling like you're always running on a hamster wheel, with no end in sight? The nagging feeling that won't let you go, the weight that keeps piling up on your shoulders, and the never-ending to-do list that makes you want to scream - that could be stress.

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Whether it's a tight deadline at work, a looming exam, or even just a traffic jam on the way home, stress is our body's way of preparing us for a challenge. When faced with a stressor, our bodies kick into gear with the "fight or flight" response, releasing a surge of hormones like adrenaline and cortisol that get our hearts racing, our blood pumping, and our muscles primed for action.

While stress can be a useful tool in certain situations, like helping us perform better under pressure, it is important to recognize when it's becoming too much to handle and take steps to manage it before it takes a toll on our well-being.

How does stress affect us?

  • Chronic stress can lead to physical symptoms such as headaches, muscle tension, fatigue, and sleep disturbances.
  • Stress can affect our emotions, causing us to feel anxious, irritable, or overwhelmed.
  • It can also affect our behaviour, leading to unhealthy habits such as overeating, drinking alcohol, or smoking.
  • Stress can also affect our thinking, leading to difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, and negative thoughts.

While we can't eliminate stress from our lives entirely, there are many strategies we can use to manage it and reduce its negative effects:

  1. Identify your stressors - Once you know what is causing your stress, you can develop a plan to address it.
  2. Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga can help you to reduce stress and promote relaxation.
  3. Regular exercise can help you to reduce stress, improve mood, and promote overall health.
  4. Practice good self-care by getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and taking time for yourself to do things you enjoy.
  5. Don't be afraid to seek support from friends, family, or a Panda counsellor. Talking to someone can help you to feel heard and supported, and it can also provide you with new perspectives and coping strategies.

While it's true that chronic stress can take a toll on our health and well-being, there are plenty of ways to manage it and prevent it from spiraling out of control. Join us in the Forest this month as we unpack what stress is, how you can identify it and learn what you can do to manage it and cope. 

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Posted by Khwezi Mabunda


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