Font Sizes:

MindSG

Explore our suite of self-care tools and resources to help you better understand and manage your mental health.

The importance of managing stress

Juggling multiple roles and responsibilities are part and parcel of adult life. This often brings about challenges with stressors and can be overwhelming over time, unless managed properly.

It is important that we prioritise our own well-being and learn to manage our stress, so we’re ready for the challenges ahead and we would then be able to better care for the people around us.

Why do we feel stressed?

Stress is a common word that we hear often. We all seem to know what it’s like to feel stressed but what exactly does it mean?

Stress is a normal response to everyday pressures. Daily needs and demands such as responsibilities, decisions, relationships, and money can cause stress.

Stressors trigger the release of two types of hormones in the body — adrenaline and cortisol.

Adrenaline

Adrenaline is a fight-or-flight hormone. It causes an increase in heart rate, breathing and blood sugar levels. It also diverts blood flow from our digestive system to our muscles.

Cortisol

Cortisol is a stress hormone, triggered when we feel threatened. It directs energy from other parts of the body to the brain to deal with the threat. After the danger has passed, cortisol levels should decrease and return to a normal state.

However, if we are under constant stress, excessive cortisol could lead to health problems such as rapid weight gain, high blood pressure, etc.

Why do we feel stressed?

Fight, Flight or Freeze:
The three natural coping responses

Fight

Fight

Fight is a response to literally fight the real or perceived danger.
Flight

Flight

This means we are preparing to run away from the stressor.
Freeze

Freeze

This means being unable to respond in the presence of the stressor.

Stress can be triggered by both positive and negative events in our lives. Even happy events can cause stress if they bring about major changes.

Stress is caused by our perception or evaluation of situations. When we deem the event to be threatening and beyond our ability to cope, we would become stressed. For example, someone may view a new job as stressful, but another may see it as a challenge and feel excited about it.

Common causes include:

Personal

Personal

  • Relationships
  • Death of loved ones
  • Relocation
  • Marriage
  • Pregnancy
  • Divorce
  • Uncertainties about the future
  • Increased responsibilities
Financial

Financial

  • Loss of income
  • Debt
Environmental triggers

Environmental triggers

  • Excessive noise
  • Traffic jams
  • Time pressure
  • Stress faced by people around us
Work & studies

Work & studies

  • Unemployment
  • New job
  • Challenges at work/studies, e.g. not being able to meet deadlines
  • Performance pressure
  • Lack of work-life harmony
  • Competition at work/studies
  • Exams and assignments
Health & safety

Health & safety

  • Illness
  • Health of family members
  • Epidemics
  • Accidents
  • Injury

Everyone responds to stress differently. Our body sends out various physical, cognitive, behavioural, and emotional warning signs, such as:

What are the signs of stress?

Physical
Signs

(How your body might react)

  • Headaches, migraines
  • Stomach aches
  • Muscle tension
  • Rapid heartbeats
  • Sweaty palms
  • Trembling
  • Chronic fatigue

Cognitive
Signs

(How you might think)

  • Poor concentration
  • Forgetfulness
  • Difficulty in organising and making decisions

Behavioural
Signs

(How you might behave)

  • Acting in a defensive, aggressive or impulsive manner
  • Nervous habits (e.g. stammering or biting nails)
  • Avoidance of tasks
  • Withdrawal from social activities
  • Drinking or smoking excessively
  • Sleep problems
  • Crying
  • Loss of appetite or overeating

Emotional
Signs

(How you might feel)

  • Anxiety and being bad-tempered
  • Excessive worrying, moody
  • Sadness, fear
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Restlessness or irritability

How does prolonged stress affect us?

Prolonged stress exposes our body constantly to the effects of adrenaline or cortisol and may lead to health problems:

Decreased immunity levels, thereby increasing our chances of getting colds and other illnesses
Decreased immunity levels, thereby increasing our chances of getting colds and other illnesses
Worsening of asthmatic conditions
Worsening of asthmatic conditions
Increased blood pressure that will increase the risk for stroke, heart attacks and kidney problems
Increased blood pressure that will increase the risk for stroke, heart attacks and kidney problems
Digestive problems like stomach ulcers, indigestion, constipation, or diarrhoea
Digestive problems like stomach ulcers, indigestion, constipation, or diarrhoea
Nervous breakdown or mental conditions such as depression
Nervous breakdown or mental conditions such as depression

What is burnout?

What is burnout?

Burnout is a state where we feel emotionally, physically, and mentally drained. This is caused by excessive and prolonged stress.

When we experience burnout, we may feel overwhelmingly exhausted. A sense of dread about work might loom over us, making us feel withdrawn or detached from our commitments and the people around us.

We might also find ourselves feeling less productive or competent.

Some common signs and symptoms of burnout:

Frequently feeling tired or drained
Frequently feeling tired or drained
Recurring pains/headaches
Recurring pains/headaches
Changes in sleep habits
Changes in sleep habits
Changes in our appetite
Changes in our appetite
Taking longer to complete tasks
Taking longer to complete tasks
Sense of failure or self-doubt
Sense of failure or self-doubt
Avoiding responsibilities
Avoiding responsibilities
Cynical outlook
Cynical outlook

Burnout can lead to:

Depression
Depression
Insomnia
Insomnia
High cholesterol
High cholesterol
Heart disease
Heart disease

Tips on minimising burnout

One effective way to minimise burnout is to have work-life harmony, which is about being able to achieve both our work and personal goals.

Work-life harmony is not about balancing work and life equally. Instead, it is about recognising that our priorities may vary at different stages of our lives. Our work and life are interdependent and increasingly intertwined.

Work-life harmony has three components. They are:

Wholeness
Wholeness
Where we feel cohesive and aligned
Positive reciprocity
Positive reciprocity
Which reinforces our overarching values
Satisfaction
Satisfaction
Which give us a sense of contentment

When we have work-life harmony, we are likely to be more engaged at work. We'll also feel happier with our family and friends, improving our mental well-being.

Here are some ways to achieve work-life harmony:

Disconnect from work after working hours

Disconnect from work after working hours

Some of us might have the tendency to stay logged on to our

READ MORE
Make time to rest

Make time to rest

Rest is an important part of our lives. When we give

READ MORE

Stress self-assessment
tool

Stress self-assessment tool

Stress is a normal response to everyday pressures.

The Stress subscale is a set of 7 questions adapted from the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS) that those aged 14 and above can use to assess their reactions to stress levels and ability to relax.

Please note this is a self-assessment and not a medical diagnosis.

Brighten our day with mobile wallpapers

References

Back to Top