We all know stress is bad but it could also be shrinking our brains and affecting memory, the latest research has found.
And too much can impact on your physical and mental health. leading to anxiety and depression.
The study was published by Harvard Medical School ahead of National Stress Awareness Day on November 7.
So if you’re feeling frazzled, try this quiz to find out your stress level.
Then read on for tips from life coach Louise Cartwright on how to stay calm.
Things get heated with a work colleague over a difference of opinion. When you go to bed that night, do you:
a) Lie awake feeling sick and anxious because you’re dreading work the next day.
b)Draft an email ready to send first thing next morning calmly explaining your side of the argument.
c) Forget all about it the minute your head hits the pillow. What happens at work, stays at work.
You’re tired and the kids are arguing over whose turn it is on the Xbox. Do you:
a) Confiscate the controllers at the first sign of trouble and send them to their rooms as punishment.
b) Keep your cool and ask them to come to a compromise because losing your head won’t help matters.
c) Shut the door and leave them to figure it out. You refuse to get worked up.
You spend a fortune on a new outfit and ask your best mate for an opinion. When they say it doesn’t suit you, do you:
a) Have a big bust-up, burst into tears and storm out. Some mate.
b) Agree to disagree. So what if you have different tastes in clothes?
c) Thank her for her honesty and return it to the shop.
You set off for an important business meeting and the traffic is chaos. You feel your stress levels rising. When you finally arrive at work, do you:
a) Feel so wound up you take your
bad mood out on everyone else in the room.
b) Bolt for the loo, splash water on your face and head into the meeting feeling calm.
c) Smile, apologise and take your seat unruffled. What’s stress?
You love your morning coffee but when you get to the fridge you discover your housemate has drunk all the milk. Do you:
a) Stick an abusive Post-it Note on the empty carton to vent your anger and set a reminder to take it up with them later.
b) Mention it in passing and ask them to call at the shop on the way home from work.
c) Replace it yourself because it’s not a big deal.
You hit it off with someone on a night out and swap numbers. They promise to call you but the next day you’re still waiting. Do you:
a) Feel like you’re going crazy because you can’t stop checking your phone.
b) Get on with your day because it’s not the end of the world.
c) Hope they’ve lost your number because you’ve got another date lined up.
You’re in the supermarket when your cranky toddler throws an almighty tantrum. You feel people staring. Do you:
a) Lose your temper with everyone around you telling them they used to be kids too.
b) Stay calm but firm and leave the shop quickly.
c) Completely ignore the situation and walk away until they’ve calmed down. Attention will only make matters worse.
You’ve booked the morning off work to take delivery of a new washing machine. The firm calls to say the delivery slot changes at the last minute to later in the day. Do you:
a) Refuse delivery and call the company to demand a full refund plus launderette costs.
b) Take delivery but politely ask
for compensation for the inconvenience.
c) Put your feet up and enjoy the extra time off work.
Just how frazzled are you?
■ If you’ve answered mostly a) Breathe. You’re on the verge of burnout and you need to learn to respond to situations, not react.
Avoid eating on the run and foods high in sugar and fat but low in nutrients. This puts stress on the digestive system, leaving you tired and lethargic and more prone to feeling stressed. Exercise releases feel-good chemicals that make you feel calmer. If you don’t fancy the gym, walking is a great place to start. Learn to relax. Avoid technology at least an hour before bed. Switch of your wi-fi, keep the room dark, and aim for a minimum of eight hours of sleep per night.
■ Mostly b) You understand that “losing it” only makes the situation worse. For you, it isn’t about ignoring the situation but instead it’s about having a calm head. You’re more of a mediator. Constant stress is bad for us, but some is inevitable and can actually be good. It helps us strengthen our “coping muscle” for future stressful situations.
■ Mostly c) You don’t know the meaning of the word stress but being too laidback can set you up to be a pushover. If avoiding stress means you become a “yes man”, you’ll end up doing everything for everyone else, and nothing for yourself. In the long term, this can lead to feelings of regret and resentment. Start building up your resilience by expressing your opinion, saying no and telling people what you want. It’s bound to stir up a hornets’ nest, but you’ll start to strengthen your ability to manage stress rather than avoid it.
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