When does stress become a problem?

The stress response can be described as the ‘fight or flight’ response. It is the way your body prepares to get you out of difficult or dangerous situations. This can be very helpful if you are faced with a challenge during which you need to draw on extra resources to keep your energy level high, but many of the times we experience stress the ‘fight or flight’ reaction isn’t actually very helpful. If you are dealing with an angry customer or if you are stuck in a traffic jam fighting or running away are not appropriate responses. Instead you tend to get tense and anxious and begin to feel the detrimental side of the stress response.

What to do

If you find you are experiencing stress regularly it is important to try to identify when this happens and ensure that you allow time to recover. If it is part of the job and can’t be changed you need to try to modify your response to it. An example might be that if you are frequently dealing with angry people you must try not to let your body go in to a stress response every time you hear an angry voice. If you can change how your body is responding you should find that you do not feel so tense.

This is an emergency relaxation technique: Tighten all your muscles and then relax them slowly, feeling the tension flow out and the muscles getting warmer and heavier.

If you find that you are regularly experiencing stress or that it is going on for long periods you may find that the things you normally do to relax are not working as well. That is the time to begin to reduce some of the pressure. Identify where the pressure is coming from and what can be changed.