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Handling Stress


  1. What is stress?

    Stress is a consequence of body response to demands made upon it. Stress is a normal part of life. Many things can be stressful such as moving to a new house, change in job, divorce or death of someone close. .

  2. Is stress always harmful?

    Stress is not always harmful. Certain amount of stress Optimum level of stress is needed to improve performance. However excessive stress will lead to anxiety and depression.

    Hans Selye Stress Graph

    When stress is low , you performance too is low because you become bored, lack concentration and motivation.

    When stress is high , your performance can suffer from all the symptoms of short-term stress.

    At moderate level of stress , these is a zone of best performance It will be sufficiently aroused to perform well.

  3. Are you vulnerable to stress?

    You can know your stress level by answering 21 simple items – DASS 21:

    This 21 items questionnaire which was developed by is to screen your mental health status and for you to be able to know your stress, anxiety and depression level. It is not for diagnostic purposes

  4. Who are at risk of developing stress?
    • Those with low income or in poverty
    • Those who are expose to unsafe environment
    • Those who suffer traumatic events
    • Family of marital discord
    • Individuals with poor coping skills
    • Individuals with poor social support
  5. How do I know I am under stress?

    I am stress if I am experiencing the following signs and symptoms.


    • Dryness of mouth
    • Headache
    • Faster heart beat
    • Increased sweating
    • Extremely tired
    • Bodyaches and pains
    • Tremors
    • Cool skin
    • Cold hands and feet
    • Feelings of nausea, or ‘Butterflies in stomach’
    • Breathing rapidly
    • Muscles tension or pain
    • Dry Mouth
    • Frequent urination
    • Diarrhoea
    • Change in appetite : increase or decrease
    • Easily getting illnesses such as:
      • asthma
      • back pain
      • digestive problems
      • skin eruptions
    • loss of sexual desire


    • Feelings of fear
    • Worry or anxiety
    • Confusion and poor concentration
    • Feelings of anger/easily irritable
    • Lack of/poor concentration
    • Loss of control
    • Frustration
    • Helplessness
    • Mood changes: low mood
    • Restlessness
    • Difficulty sleeping

    Cognitive disturbances

    • Difficulty to make good decisions.
    • Reduce enjoyment of daily activities
    • It causes difficult situations to be seen as a threat, not a challenge.
    • It disrupt the positive frame of mind by:
    • Increase in negative thoughts,
    • Loss of self-confidence,


    • Talking too fast or too loud
    • Yawning
    • Excessive smoking, substance abuse
    • Nail biting, grinding teeth, drumming fingers, restless.
    • Overreaction and reacting emotionally
    • Aggressive behaviour
    • Reduced personal effectiveness:
      • Easily forgetful
      • frequent accident
    • Poor work performance
    • Neglect of personal appearance
  6. Where do my stress come from?
      Stress can came from various sources:

    1. Stress within yourself :

      Type A personality: When your personality is type A, who is ambitious, perfectionist, hardworking and high achiever, you are prone to. stress.

      Unrealistic expectation. When five main unrealistic expectations

      • You expect all people to love and admire you
      • You expect to be competent all the time
      • You believed that external factors causing all your misfortune
      • You expect that every events should always turn out the way you want them to, and that people should always do what you want.
      • You believed that past bad experience will control what will happen in the future
    2. Stressors from your environment and job
      1. Environmental stresses
        • Crowding
        • Insufficient working and living space
        • Noise
        • Dirty or untidy conditions
        • Pollution
        • A badly organised or run down environment
      2. Chemical and nutritional stresses
        • Caffeine cause your levels of stress hormones raises, difficult to sleep and can make you more irritable.
        • Bursts of sugar from sweets or chocolate: these make you feel more energetic in the short term. Your body reacts to stabilise abnormally high sugar levels by releasing too much insulin. This causes a serious energy dip shortly after the sugar high.
        • Too much salt : This raises your blood pressure and puts your body under chemical stress.
    3. Lifestyle and job stress

      These may include:

      • too much or too little work
      • having to perform beyond your experience or perceived abilities
      • having to overcome unnecessary obstacles
      • time pressures and deadlines
      • keeping up with new developments
      • changes in procedures and policies
      • lack of relevant information, support and advice
      • lack of clear objectives
      • unclear expectations of your role from your boss or colleagues
      • responsibility for people, budgets or equipment
      • career development stress:
        • under-promotion, frustration and boredom with current role
        • over-promotion beyond abilities
        • lack of a clear plan for career development
        • lack of opportunity
        • lack of job security
      • Stress from your organisation or your clients:
        • pressures from your boss or from above in your organisation
        • interference in your work
        • demands from clients
        • disruptions to work plans
        • the telephone!
      • Personal and family stresses:
        • financial problems
        • relationship problems
        • ill-health
        • family changes such as birth, death, marriage or divorce.


  7. What will happen if I ignore the stress in me?

    The effects of long term stress can be severe. If you do not take action to control or handle stress effectively, this can lead to :
    • Fatigue and Exhaustion
    • Burn Out, or Breakdown
    • Depression


  8. What can I do to manage my stress?
    • You must recognize and your body signals of stress
    • You must learn to identify what causesstress
    • Learn changes you can make to help reduce your stress.
    • Learn Relaxation techniques and Deep Breathing Technique to reduce effect of stress on your body.
    • Learn to cope with your stress by Practicing Appropriate Coping Skills which corresponds to identified source of stress.
    • SEEK PROFESIONAL HELP If you feel there is no satisfying improvement in your stress after 3 weeks.

Click here to evaluate your health risk!!!

Last Reviewed : 05 May 2011
Writer : Dr. Mohd Nasir bin Abd Kadir