Tackling Stress

We live in an age where stress is commonplace and many of us seem to struggle merely to keep up with the pace of life and the expectations society places on us. Though each generation may think they have had things harder compared to the previous, the reality is that the consequences of stresses are similar in that they spill over onto our emotional wellbeing and in time, likely to affect one’s physical health too. In my role as a college doctor for the University of Oxford, we know that there has been a continuous rise in the number of students suffering from stress, anxiety and depression each year and this has been seen at the national level throughout UK universities. On a certain level, these students are fortunate enough to be in a semi-protected environment where immediate help is at hand (i.e. in an academic institution where they have access to welfare support, counselling facilities, college nurses and doctors, tutors, etc.). For the general population, however, there are likely to be additional stresses including for example, the day-to-day work, politics amongst colleagues, financial issues of potentially greater consequences, family and relationship matters, etc. all of which can easily build up and tip the balance. As individuals, we all have different levels of tolerance to stress but hopefully and most importantly, we have some strategies to manage stress effectively. Clearly, we know that a certain level of stress can in fact be quite beneficial in some situations and for short durations but excessive amounts are best avoided.


On the cancer-free journey, there will be understandably different levels of stresses concerning one’s health to varying degrees at certain stages. The important thing is to find ways of reducing the stress levels and to ensure you have the necessary skillset(s) and tools to manage stress before it reaches a saturation point and problems may start to arise. Quality sleep, eating well, exercise, having a good social setup and network, keeping a good routine, seeking help early on, having the ability to take time out, having an awareness of the build up of stress, taking the time to relax, having a positive mindset will all likely to help to reduce the levels of stress.


Courtesy of TED Ed (taken from YouTube) Terms of Service



What is the Solution to Stress Then?


How To Overcome Stress and Relive Pressure (Jay Shetty & Jim Kwik)
How To Make Stress Your Friend (Kelly McGonigal, TEDGlobal 2013)
8 Easy, Stress-Busting Techniques


Most often we can manage to brush aside or even confront a few stressors of daily life. Some of us may even thrive on a bit of stress leading to increased productivity and enjoy the adrenaline kick. The problem of course is that there comes a threshold point to your ability to cope with stress(es), however good your coping mechanisms and strategies are. We therefore need to increase our emotional resilience, to increase our capacity to deal with stress but also actively put in measures to reduce exposure to known stressors and to those that are particularly modifiable and under our control.

Clearly, there is no one answer to managing stress but it would be good to assess the triggers of stress related to your social environment (e.g. work, relationship, finance, etc.) and also have a look at the way in which you think about things and the stress-provoking situation itself. Is it that you have a tendency to accept extra work e.g. for fear of rejection, not wanting to be seen not to be doing the job well or purely not being able to say ‘no’? Do you have a way of overdoing things leading to the inability to cope when further stresses come your way at a time when your emotional and physical resilience is at an all-time low? Or is it an interpretation issue where you might approach matters with a slightly negative mindset of the ‘glass half empty vs. glass half full’ leading to a heightened sense of anxiety or stress? Or could be purely due to a misunderstanding or a misinterpretation of a certain event given the inability to process the matter at hand due to the lack of energy and concentration? You can see there are potentially numerous sources of stresses but as a starting point, it would be best to ask these types of questions and figure out what things can be realistically addressed to reduce your stress level.



If you are so stressed that it is affecting your ability to function, it may be a good idea to have take some time out or even contemplate taking a holiday. Have a look at How to Get You in the Holiday Mood for a bit of emotional therapy! Similarly, if the levels of stress spill over to affect your mental wellbeing and cause anxiety and / or depression, have a look at the topics covers in Health & Wellbeing Ideas and my review on Alpha-Stim (AID), which uses cranial electrotherapy stimulation to manage anxiety, depression and insomnia. (Note: this is a cutting-edge therapy that is making its way into the NHS and already used in the private sector.)




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