The importance of
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 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 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.
Fight, Flight or Freeze:
The three natural coping responses
FightFight is a response to literally fight the real or perceived danger.
FlightThis means we are preparing to run away from the stressor.
FreezeThis 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:
- Death of loved ones
- Uncertainties about the future
- Increased responsibilities
- Loss of income
- Excessive noise
- Traffic jams
- Time pressure
- Stress faced by people around us
Work & studies
- 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 of family members
Everyone responds to stress differently. Our body sends out various physical, cognitive, behavioural, and emotional warning signs, such as:
(How your body might react)
- Headaches, migraines
- Stomach aches
- Muscle tension
- Rapid heartbeats
- Sweaty palms
- Chronic fatigue
(How you might think)
- Poor concentration
- Difficulty in organising and making decisions
(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
- Loss of appetite or overeating
(How you might feel)
- Anxiety and being bad-tempered
- Excessive worrying, moody
- Sadness, fear
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Restlessness or irritability
stress, or eustress, helps us to cope with
challenging but important life events.
Is stress good?
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:
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:
Burnout can lead to:
Tips on minimising burnout
One effective way to minimise burnout is to have work-life harmony, which is about being able
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:
Where we feel cohesive and aligned
Which reinforces our overarching values
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
Here are some ways to achieve work-life harmony:
Disconnect from work
after working hours
Some of us might have the tendency to stay logged on to our work devices after working hours. However…READ MORE
Make time to rest
Rest is an important part of our lives. When we give ourselves time to rest, we can recharge and be ready for the challenges…READ MORE
How to manage stress and burnout
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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.