Updated: Oct 21, 2021
TLDR: With our day to day responsibilities, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and experience stress. Although small dosages as stress can serve as motivation, long-term stress could burn you out. It is then important to develop strategies to relieve stress through setting routines to pause and refocus on something more calming, being more organised and obtaining enough sleep.
What is Stress
A survey conducted by AIA Vitality in 2017* found that Malaysians work 15 hours beyond their contracted hours each week on average and are therefore overworked and stressed. This unhealthy lifestyle has adverse effects on both an individual’s physical and mental state, whereby 84% of the participants were reported to have some form of musculoskeletal condition and 53% were at risk of mental health conditions.
As individuals, we wear many hats - as parents, children, employee or employee - and each hat comes with a different set of responsibilities. Having so many responsibilities can often be overwhelming and contribute to immense feelings of stress. In short, stress is our body’s response to pressures from a situation.
For example, your day-to-day routine may look a little bit like this: dropping off your kids at school before enduring the morning-hour traffic. Having to bury your head in work and often skipping lunches, and having plenty of errands to complete after work or during the weekends. As a student, you may be juggling between a part time job, attending lectures, completing assignments, maintaining a social life and cleaning.
Signs of Stress
Stress is often tied to a survival instinct known as the “flight or fight” mode, where our brain rapidly decides if we should flee from a threatening situation or to brave through it. Stress is thus a response to dangers in a situation, whereas anxiety is a reaction to the stress.
Feeling stressed? Not to worry, as small doses of stress can actually be beneficial! Good stress, also known as eustress, is often a driving factor in life - it keeps us excited and motivated. For example, the anticipation you experience on your first day at school, before a presentation, hopping onto a roller coaster or going on a date. On the other hand, chronic stress can negatively affect your psychological and emotional state. Being in a permanent “flight or fight” state can overwhelm and wear the body out. Here are some signs of stress:
Stress can also look a little like this:
Feeling exhausted after rushing for back-to-back events
Feeling restless from needing to complete multiple tasks at the same time because they are all equally important
Having to skip meals because you need to meet deadlines
Being a caretaker to too many individuals (e.g. having to care for young toddlers and elderly parents at the same time)
Simple ways to Relieve Stress
In our day-to-day routines, it is easy to get distracted and carried away with our tasks. Here are a few practical tips:
Setting an hourly reminder to take deep breaths and stretch.
Having a proper to-do list to keep track of your commitments. If you find yourself overcommitting to tasks, cut them down. Have conversations with your performance manager, spouse or lecturer about feeling overwhelmed.
Schedule out time for rest, or at least have your 7-8 hours of sleep.
Let us maintain healthy levels of stress and create a #thoughtfullworld where mental health is as aspirational as physical health.
2017 Study by AIA Vitality