Feeling stressed can often be incredibly incapacitating. Even seeing the word stress can put people on edge. It affects our ability to stay level-headed, complete tasks and function at a basic level.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, 74% of people have felt so stressed they have been overwhelmed or unable to cope. These numbers are concerning and with the stimulating factors of stress increasing, it feels inevitable that this will continue to go up.
This is where practicing mindfulness becomes an extremely useful tool in moderating overwhelming feelings. In order to begin on this journey, it’s important to understand where this overwhelming feeling comes from.
So, what is stress? Where does it come from, and how can we work to alleviate its effects?
The National Health Service defines stress as ‘the body’s reaction to feeling threatened or under pressure’. Stress is not all bad – it can be a good motivating factor that helps you accomplish your goals. Too much stress, however, can leave you feeling overwhelmed and make you lose this sense of motivation.
Stress often occurs when we experience something unexpected – particularly new pressuring factors like deadlines – and makes us feel like we have little control over our actions. Of those who experience stress, 51% report that they also felt depressed and 61% report feeling anxious.
If 1 in 2 people that feel stressed also feel depressed, how can we learn to manage our reaction to stress without feeling overwhelmed? Let’s look at where stress can come from to see how it can be managed.
Where Does Stress Come From?
Stress has many sources, which may be part of the problem! It can be caused by your working conditions, concerns about finances and even your relationships with close friends or significant others. Stress can also be caused by the pressure of replying to messages, concerns about your long-term health, self-image and even housing worries!
Even looking at that list can make us feel overwhelmed – it’s extremely common to feel overwhelmed by one or more of these factors, or even every single one!
So, how do we look out for stress?
What Does Stress Do to the Mind and Body?
As stress comes from feeling overwhelmed, you may notice yourself feeling one of the following:
- Frustrated or easily irritable
Each one of these can also have physical manifestations – you might feel physically sick, act recklessly or undertake unhealthy coping mechanisms.
Mindfulness is a healthy, alternative coping mechanism that can seriously aid your emotional and physical responses to overwhelming stimuli.
How to Practice Mindfulness
The NHS and the Mental Health Foundation both recommend a number of useful practices that can help reduce stress and manage your reaction to overwhelming feelings. Here’s a list of some of those techniques and what they can do to help reduce stress:
- Practice Mindful Meditation. The internet has a number of resources on practicing meditation. The NHS has some advice on where to start – but why bother in the first place? Simply put, meditation can be seriously effective in adjusting the way we think. Meditation is being treated more and more seriously as a solution to overwhelming feelings. Mindful meditation encourages us to pause for a moment and take a breath. It teaches us to re-evaluate what’s important and focus our energy on reducing negative feelings. This can be particularly important in tackling stress. Take a look at the NHS guide here.
- Write down your stresses. Often, the source of your stress and overwhelming feeling may be a lack of control. By writing your feelings down – or tasks that you want to accomplish – you can get a good sense of where to begin. Writing it down helps give you a moment to process how you’re feeling and also break down your stresses into a visual category. By doing this, it becomes easier to see that these stresses and tasks are manageable. You can complete them in an ordered way, and they feel less like an overwhelming burden.
- Complete regular exercise. Exercise is proven to help reduce emotional intensity. By performing regular exercise, your body and mind have an outlet for negative feelings. It can help clear your mind and allow you to tackle problems with a fresh perspective. Even a ten-minute walk can greatly help with stress. Exercising is a great way to rejuvenate your mind and help you address stressful factors from a calmer position.
It can be a lot to expect yourself to learn all of this alone. That’s why Ceed has created a dedicated team to help you keep on top of overwhelming feelings and practice mindfulness. We use real behavioural psychology to help plot a course of action for your personal development. Take a look at what we can do for you here.