Updated: Feb 8, 2020
By Dr. Naras Lapsys
Stress is a common affliction for many here in Singapore. We experience stress when we feel threatened and we believe that we don’t have the resources to deal with a challenging situation. In short, we feel stressed when we feel out of control. It is important to take stress seriously as it impacts our ability to perform work effectively, it affects our interactions with people and it damages our health.
Long- term stress puts us at high risk of burnout, weakened immunity and many chronic health issues.
Signs of stress
We all react to stress differently. Some of the following signs are common indicators that you may be suffering from the effects of stress:
- Headaches and cold sweats - Nausea or stomach pain - Panic attacks - Disturbed sleep (insomnia or excessive sleeping) - Difficulty concentrating - Constant fatigue - Irritability - Significant weight gain or loss
How to Manage Stress
When it comes to managing stress, it is important to understand where these feeling are coming from. Take a short break and spend time identifying the causes of your short-term or frequent stress. Identify which stressors affect your health and well-being the most. Then, find time to learn and apply some of the approaches below to create your own ‘toolkit’ to manage stress better.
1. Taking Action Approach
When you use a taking action approach, your intention is to change the stressful situation itself. For example, if you are overwhelmed by your workload it may be a matter of investigating ways to manage your time better. Prioritising what is most important and concentrating on these tasks first will help you regain some control and thus reduce your stress. Try to avoid multitasking and minimise your time spent on low value activities, such as constantly checking social media feeds or your email.
2. Emotion-Based Approach
Stress sometimes occurs from how we perceive a situation, often as a result of a negative-thinking mindset. For some people it may also stem from a fear of failure or even a fear of success. There are many effective techniques that have been developed to help people challenge these negative thoughts.
A relatively recent technique developed by psychologists includes the ABC technique (stands for adversity, beliefs, consequences) that helps people to challenge pessimistic thinking.
Optimists have been proven to be happier, healthier and more productive than pessimists. Using positive affirmations and imagery has also been shown to overcome short-term negative thinking. So, please do sit back, close your eyes and imagine yourself basking on that hammock in some idyllic beach holiday.
3. Acceptance-Based Approach
If you are in a position where you are unable to change a stressful situation, then acceptance-based approaches can be very powerful tools to help you cope with the situation better. Breathing exercises, meditation and mindfulness-based thinking have been shown to induce calm very effectively. There are numerous audiobooks and Apps that teach these concepts well. During down-time, building support networks, enjoying exercise and placing an emphasis on sleep and sleep quality are also very important. These techniques help you to cope better and give you greater resilience.
With patience, the right tools and a long-term approach, we are all in a position to manage our stress better and tackle the challenges of busy Singapore life.