How do you explain stress? One way is by understanding the relationship between:

  • Fight – agitation and irritation towards others as your body goes into a state of stress.
  • Flight – the survival instinct to run away or in everyday life avoid facing the source of stress.
  • Freeze – the energy of arising from the perceived threat or stressor in daily life gets locked into the nervous system and we freeze.

These are mental processes that can manifest as symptoms like racing thoughts, mild heart palpitations, sweating, dizziness, shallow breathing, headaches, nausea, aches, and pains. Prolonged and high levels of stress that go unacknowledged or untreated will cause feelings of being out of control and overwhelmed, fearful, angry, sad, upset or irritable leading to anxiety or depression.

The NHS say there is no clear answer as to why people from African Caribbean communities in the UK are at higher risk of developing high blood pressure. As a serious symptom of stress, self-management is vital, because stress and high-blood pressure can lead to a stroke. You can get checked by your GP, some pharmacies and workplace and by an NHS Health Check (England only). It should be under 140/90mmHG.

Self-management starts with recognising when stress is an actual problem and you stop to take stock of your lifestyle. Ask yourself where you might be taking on too much and where you can hand some things over to someone else. For this reason, maintaining supportive relationships in your personal and work life is vital to giving – a way to build self-esteem – and receiving support or advice. Building healthy routines into your life will be of benefit also, such as:

  • Regular exercise
  • Eating healthily
  • Smoking and drinking less or not at all
  • Taking time out
  • Being mindful through meditation and breathwork
  • Sleep hygiene and rest
  • Taking it easy on yourself

If you think you have a problem with STRESS self-refer to IRIE Mind or Talk Changes or see your GP for support from Tavistock & Portman.