Tag Archives: Healthy living

11 Behavioural symptoms of stress

Like most problems; the sooner you spot stress the easier it is to manage. It pays to be familiar with the many different symptoms of stress. The symptoms of stress fall into many different categories e.g. behavioural, physical, emotional, psychological etc. Over the coming weeks I shall be discussing each of these, however, this week I shall begin with the behavioural symptoms of stress.

Stress can affect behaviour in many different ways but the following tend to be the most common behavioural symptoms of stress.

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Behavioural symptoms of stress

1. Sleeping difficulties

behavioural symptoms of stress insomnia

Sufferers of stress often find it difficult to switch off. With no activity to distract them, negative thinking, anxieties and worries take over the mind. Fear of having forgotten something and negative expectations of forthcoming events (e.g. interview, presentation) limits the ability to relax sufficiently to fall asleep. Sleep shortage and insomnia are often tell-tale signs of stress.

 2. Lack of punctuality

behavioural symptoms of stress poor punctuality

Timekeeping is one of the first things to suffer when an individual becomes stressed. They may take too many tasks on; try to avoid tasks and thus leave them until the last minute or they may be so overcome with worry/anxiety that they become forgetful. In order to remedy the situation, they must first identify why their punctuality is so poor.

 3. Absenteeism

behavioural symptoms of stress absenteeism

Stressed individuals tend to regularly miss work. They may be trying to avoid a difficult situation or they may be suffering the consequences of one of their coping mechanisms e.g. alcohol.

 4. Withdrawal

behavioural symptoms of stress withdrawal

Withdrawal is a common behavioural symptom of stress. The individual’s self-esteem and confidence may have taken a hit and as a consequence, they may no longer feel capable of coping with social situations. In order to protect their fragile confidence, they may choose to avoid all such situations.

 5. Exhaustion

behavioural symptoms of stress exhaustion

If we are to maximise our energy, one of the most important things for us to do is to balance our physical energy. There will be times when we are required to work at our maximum output for sustained periods. In order to do this we must implement periods of deep rest which enables both our body and mind to recover. Failure to do so can eventually result in burnout and chronic fatigue. The stressed individual may feel like they are constantly running from one emergency to another and thus fail to take the time to rest and recuperate. Constant fatigue is often a sign that someone is overwhelmed and experiencing stress.

 6. Addictive/excessive behaviour

behavioural symptoms of stress addictive behaviour

Those experiencing stress often don’t realise that it is stress which they are experiencing. Where they do realise this, they often have no idea how to deal with stress.  This can result in short term solutions which, though they have a temporary impact, have damaging long-term consequences. One of the most common coping mechanisms for dealing with difficulty is alcohol. While alcohol can have temporary benefit, it can be highly addictive and it fails to resolve the situation. Other coping mechanisms include smoking, illegal and prescription drugs.

 7. Unhealthy eating habits

behavioural symptoms of stress unhealthy eating

Comfort food is often sought as a solution to stressful situations. Indulging in convenience foods can make you feel better temporarily and saves time, however, these foods are rich in salt, sugar and fat which can lead to obesity, high blood pressure and heart related illnesses.

While we associate comfort eating with stress, some people have the opposite response to stressful situation i.e. they avoid eating. They may be experiencing a suppressed appetite, they may have developed a negative self image or they may have developed negative associations with food. Whatever the reason, the consequences of food avoidance can be every bit as devastating as the consequences of food indulgence.

 8. Risk-taking behaviour

behavioural symptoms of stress risk

A sudden development of risk taking behaviour can be a clear sign of stress. Individuals may be experiencing a low sense of self-worth or a lack of excitement in their lives.  They need a ‘buzz’ in their life and are willing to take bigger risks in order to get that buzz. Unfortunately, they level of risk they need to take to get the ‘buzz’ may increase steadily over time. They fail to see that as the risk gets bigger, so too do the potential consequences. Gambling is a common behavioural symptom of stress, which falls within this category.  Certain extreme sports and reckless driving are some of the other symptoms of stress which may fall under risk-taking behaviour.

 9. Accidents

behavioural symptoms of stress accident

Concentration tends to suffer greatly when one experiences stress.  In certain work places (generally more manual industries) this may result in a high number of accidents both fatal and non-fatal. Along with reduced concentration, the individual may also be overworked, poorly trained, displaying risk-taking behaviour or denied sufficient rest periods; all of which may be contributory factors in the stress.

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 10. High turnover in the workplace

behavioural symptoms of stress high turnover

Stressed employees are generally unhappy in their work situation. Sadly, many workplaces have not put the necessary training and procedures in place which would allow the employee to discuss their experience with their manager so that they may work together to find a solution. Rather than raise the issue, many stressed employees will choose to seek employment elsewhere.

 11. Suicidal talk or behaviour

behavioural symptoms of stress suicidal

Stress can diminish an individual’s self-esteem and sense of self-worth to the point where they feel that they cannot go on. In many such cases we do not get the opportunity to help the individual but in some cases they do drop subtle hints of their intentions. There are courses, such as ASIST, which can help to improve your chances of spotting these signs and intervening.

If you feel that you may be experiencing stress, check out Stress Free Living.

Many people feel too embarrassed or ashamed to openly discuss their experiences with stress. It is, therefore, essential that we familiarise ourselves with the behavioural symptoms of stress so that we may be able to identify what they are going through and remind them that the channels of communication are open and that we were willing to help them, or help them find more suitable help. You may in fact be experiencing stress yourself. It may be helpful to regularly remind yourself of the behavioural symptoms of stress so that you can identify it early and take appropriate action.

The 80/20 Principle…

I am a firm believer in the 80/20 principle.

It tells us that approx. 80% of our results come from approx. 20% of our actions.

The percentages are not always such but they are always heavily skewed in a manner which tells that very few of our actions produce most of our outcomes.

This tells us two things:

  1. We need to dedicate more time, energy and attention to the people and actions which produce the best outcomes for us.
  2. Most of our actions, and the people in our lives add very little, if any value to our lives.

If you think about the second point, you could cut out most of the actions and people from your life and your life would improve.

Less is more when the less is the stuff that really matters.

If you are like the average person, the following is probably true for you:

  • You spend too much time doing things which don’t need to be done
  • You spend too much time doing things which others should be doing
  • You spend too much time doing things because others want you to do them
  • You don’t spend enough time on the things which bring you the best results and most joy and happiness
  • You give too much time and attention to people who don’t add real value to your life
  • You don’t give enough time to the people who add the most value to your life

How much better would your life be if you sorted all that out?

There are 2 key steps to doing so and; you can make a start on both simultaneously.

  1. Identify the actions and people which bring the most joy and happiness into your life and dedicate more time to them.
  2. Make that time available by decluttering your life and removing the actions and people which add little or no joy and happiness to your life.

People forget about the importance of decluttering but the 80/20 principle also tells us that 5% of the people in your life will contribute about 50% of the people-related problems.

The same is likely true for actions and possessions.

So, start decluttering your life today and reap the rewards.

If you need help decluttering, this great resource will help.

TAME SOCIAL MEDIA AND FOCUS ON THE IMPORTANT STUFF [Part 1]

Tame social media and focus on the important stuff

If you want to be as productive as possible, you need to eliminate distractions. You live in a busy world where there are so many things competing for your attention. If you don’t learn to control these potential distractions, you end up jumping from one thing to another without ever really finishing anything. 2 things above all else have made distractions worse than ever – the smart phone and social media. These things have meant that we don’t ever have to be out of touch. We can always be contacted. But just because we always can be contacted it doesn’t mean that we should always allow ourselves to be contacted. I will tackle smart phones in a later article but today I want to focus on taming social media.

Why taming social media is important

Taming social media is important because social media is highly addictive but adds little or no real value to your life. I am a firm believer in the 80/20 principle whereby very few of the things which you do daily, produce the majority of the positive outcomes in your life. In other words, the majority of the things we do daily, add little or no value. I invite you to take a proper look at your social media usage to determine the time you spend on it versus the value you receive from it.

If you are honest with yourself, you will find that:

  • You spend more time on social media than you had realized, and;
  • You get far less value from social media than you had thought

The social media zombie

During your typical day, how many people do you see who are glued to their smart phone. Their head is down; they have no idea what is going on around them and they probably have a cramp in their thumb from scrolling through their Facebook or Twitter feed. We are creating a generation of people who lack the social skills to survive in the real world. They are more concerned with the lives of their imaginary online friends than they are concerned with the lives of their real-world friends.

I have become more concerned in recent times by the frequency with which I walk into businesses and receive poor service because the staff are focused their social media accounts rather than the customers who pay their wages….

TO BE CONTINUED………

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PATH TO SUCCESS

Your path to success is something which you must create for yourself. Nobody else can really tell you what will make you happy and; nobody can tell you the best way for you to go about creating the life you really want.

You must decide your own destination and create your own path for getting there i.e. your path to success. You path to success should be narrow and direct; requiring as few actions as possible while eliminating a great deal of the stress, frustration and conflict which comes with performing tasks which add no real value to your life.

LOOK FOR THE GOOD

Look For The Good

In the New Year, let’s resolve
to get less stressed, upset, anxious
about things over which we have no control.
Lets have a narrower focus on our lives,
loving and helping our family and friends,
making our community a better place to live,
to create peace and contentment.

In the New Year, let’s resolve
to pay less attention to depressing stories
on TV, in magazines and newspapers,
and to stop focusing on what we want
that we haven’t got,
instead of appreciating
the many blessings we do have.

In the New Year, let’s look for the good.
We may have to search
through a mass of negative media,
but the good is there,
all around us.

I wish for you a New Year filled with good, engulfed in serenity and happiness!

KHAT-MIRAA/MUGUKA (FINAL PART)

Khat and the law
On 24 June 2014 khat becomes a Class C drug which means it is illegal to have or to supply khat.
It is also be an offense to bring khat into the country, so if you’ve been abroad to a country where khat is legal you cannot bring it back to the UK with you.

Khat fact sheets are available in Amharic, Arabic, English, Somali and Swahili for information on the reasons for the ban, penalties for possession, and where to go for advice and support.  They can be used  by individuals and local, voluntary or other organizations working in health, prevention, social care and law enforcement. 

What if you’re caught?

If the Police catch you with khat, they’ll always take some action. This could include a penalty notice, a formal caution, or arrest and possible conviction.
If you are caught with khat (called possession) you could be arrested and face up to two years in prison and/or get an unlimited fine. If you are caught dealing or supplying (and that could just mean giving some to your mates) you could get up to 14 years in jail and/or get an unlimited fine. 

A conviction for a drug-related offense could have a serious impact. It could make it harder, even impossible, to visit certain countries – for example the United States – and limit the types of jobs you can apply for.

Similar Synthetic Drugs

The two intoxicants in the plant are cathinone and cathine. They are similar to but milder than amphetamine. In the last several years, synthetic forms of this drug have become popular and dangerous. Synthetic cathinones are very often the types of drugs found in “bath salts.” They are far stronger in their synthetic forms. Mephedrone, methylone, methcathinone and MDPV (3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone) are all illicit synthetic drugs in this class.

Addiction Doesn’t Always Involve an Illegal Drug

There are plenty of people who are addicted to substances that can be purchased legally. Alcohol, for example, is legal for an adult to purchase. A person abusing inhalants can become addicted to common household chemicals. And in other cases, it takes time for a drug to be outlawed in a state or country, once its dangerous properties are recognized. Therefore, khat use 

Did you know?

  • Like drinking and driving, driving while under the influence of drugs is illegal – with some drugs you can still be unfit to drive the day after using. You can get a heavy fine, be disqualified from driving or even go to prison.
  • Allowing other people to supply drugs in your house or any other premises is illegal. If the police catch people supplying illegal drugs in a club they can potentially  prosecute the landlord, club owner or any person concerned in the management of the premises.

Discussion

Our qualitative study identified that khat is commonly used by members of the Australian Somali community, particularly men, and that participants’ views about the links between khat use and personal health varied regarding its benefits and harms. Use is linked to community networks and cultural traditions, and may also be associated with existing high levels of mental health disorders (anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder) among displaced refugee communities.

Large quantities of khat need to be consumed in order to achieve a “high”. The fresh leaves preferred by khat users contain a higher ratio of cathinone to the less psychoactive cathine, and are usually sourced from local trees. Dried khat is usually imported into Australia from Kenya or Ethiopia. The effects that were seen as positive (increased energy, elevated mood, reduced appetite) and the adverse effects (sleep and mood disorders, poor appetite, constipation) commonly reported by participants were consistent with the weak psychostimulant properties of the active components of khat. Some participants also identified a negative impact on psychosocial functioning and relationships, although more severe drug-induced psychosis or violence were reported to be uncommon. Participants suggested that when it occurs it is not a direct effect of the drug; we suggest that such behaviour may be due to the effects (or discontinuation effects) of khat.

The concurrent consumption of large volumes of sugary drinks and sweets to counteract the bitter taste of khat, coupled with reduced appetite and poor nutrition, is likely to contribute to poor oral health.

Overwhelmingly, participants in this study incorrectly believed that khat was harmless or possibly beneficial for a range of medical complaints. There were a number of instances where perceived effects contradicted the evidence — for example, reports that khat was useful in treating diabetes. Such reports may arise from the appetite suppressant effects of khat, yet are in contrast to the limited evidence suggesting that khat may increase blood glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes. The concurrent consumption of sweet food and drink may also contribute to the development of diabetes. Further, the belief that khat use increases libido and fertility contradicts the limited evidence that long-term use of khat may reduce sperm count, volume and motility.

Difficulties in detecting and responding to health problems associated with khat use may be compounded by poor health literacy and poor utilisation of health services by people who use khat, different cultural understandings of the role of khat as a drug, stigma regarding disclosure of khat use to health care providers, and low awareness among health practitioners of khat use, its effects, and the health issues affecting refugees.

Those experiencing adverse effects are most likely to access general health services complaining of specific symptoms (eg, sleep or mood problems, constipation) and may not report their khat use because of concerns regarding stigma, illegality or genuine belief that khat use is not linked to any health problems. Khat users may also present (or be referred) to drug and alcohol treatment services with dependence issues, although there are no specific services available for khat users in Australia. Multicultural drug and alcohol health services are available in some states and may be able to offer more culturally specific assistance to patients.

Health professionals have a role to play in educating users about potential harms arising from khat use, promoting responsible use of the drug in order to minimise the negative health effects for the individual and for the community, and informing community members who experience problems about the services available to them. Health information resources regarding khat use are available through websites, such as the Australian Drug Foundation’s DrugInfo site (http://www.druginfo.adf.org.au/). Importantly, many users reported not disclosing their khat use to health professionals, and we therefore recommend that health professionals should routinely enquire about khat use and related health problems with patients of Somalian or other East African background, incorporated into enquiries regarding lifestyle factors such as use of tobacco, alcohol and other substances.

STAY DRUG FREE……….

KHAT – MIRAA/MUGUKA (PART THREE)

Similar Synthetic Drugs

The two intoxicants in the plant are cathinone and cathine. They are similar to but milder than amphetamine. In the last several years, synthetic forms of this drug have become popular and dangerous. Synthetic cathinones are very often the types of drugs found in “bath salts.” They are far stronger in their synthetic forms. Mephedrone, methylone, methcathinone and MDPV (3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone) are all illicit synthetic drugs in this class.

Addiction Doesn’t Always Involve an Illegal Drug

There are plenty of people who are addicted to substances that can be purchased legally. Alcohol, for example, is legal for an adult to purchase. A person abusing inhalants can become addicted to common household chemicals. And in other cases, it takes time for a drug to be outlawed in a state or country, once its dangerous properties are recognized. Therefore, khat use in a country in which it is not illegal can still be damaging to the individual who can’t stop using it despite harm being done to his life, relationships or future.

Even if khat is used in accepted social situations, if a person stops being able to be successful in life, if he neglects goals that are important to him or stops caring for responsibilities that he once held dear, such as his career or family, then the chances are very good that this person needs help to leave khat abuse behind.

The Narconon drug and alcohol rehabilitation program can help a person addicted to khat, just like it helps an alcohol or heroin addict. The drug does not matter, because the pattern of addiction is very similar from one person to the next. The generally eight to ten week Narconon rehab program has an excellent record of helping those addicted to any substances find lasting sobriety and a return of interest in those things that really matter to him or her.

KHAT Dosing

The appropriate dose of khat depends on several factors such as the user’s age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for khat. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

Psychoactive and mental health effects

The increased energy level and enhanced mood from khat use led some users to suggest that khat is a useful treatment for depression: “We use it for remedy and it doesn’t cost the government” (Somali woman, Melbourne). Conversely, commonly identified psychological health problems such as disrupted sleep patterns, low mood and irritability were reported to occur after the effects of khat had worn off.

A minority of participants identified a link between heavy khat use and more severe mental health problems:

It’s a very major source of madness, of craziness. People are alright if they stop it, they can come back alright . . . but when you overuse it, and overuse it, that’s when you come to this situation. (Somali man, Perth.)

The general view of participants in to a proven survey was that people do not become more violent upon using khat, although some participants reported domestic violence linked to khat use. Many participants

TO BE CONTINUED……….

KHAT – MIRAA/MUGUKA (PART TWO)

KHAT Uses & Effectiveness

What are the effects of khat?
Khat is a stimulant and chewing it can:

  • Make people more alert and talkative
  • Produce feelings of elation
  • Suppress the appetite
  • Produce a feeling of calm if it’s chewed over a few hours, with some describing it as being ‘blissed out’
  • Lead to periods of insomnia

What are the risks of khat?
Because khat is a plant, some people think that it is safe to use. But using any drug involves risk. Here’s what it could do to you:

  • You may develop insomnia and short-lived states of confusion.
  • You can get high blood pressure, heart palpitations and heart problems with heavy use.
  • As khat can cause periods of increased libido, care may be needed to minimize the risk of unsafe sex and unwanted pregnancies.
  • Khat can inflame the mouth and damage the teeth. It can also reduce appetite and cause constipation, and there is concern about a longer-term risk of development of mouth cancers.
  • It can give you feelings of anxiety and aggression.
  • It can make pre-existing mental health problems worse and can cause paranoid and psychotic reactions (which may be associated with irritability, anxiety and losing touch with reality).
  • There is a small risk of significant liver disease, which has the potential to be life threatening.
  • Impurities
    Because khat comes in recognizable leaf form, it can’t easily be cut with anything.

Can you get addicted to khat?
Khat can make a user psychologically dependent (with craving and a desire to keep using in spite of potential harm). When some users stop using they can feel lethargic or mildly depressed and may have a withdrawal period with fine tremors and nightmares.

The effects of khat include:

  • Euphoria
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased energy
  • Increased sociability
  • Increased alertness
  • Cheerfulness
  • Sense of well-being
  • Reduction of boredom

Some people can develop a hyperactive mania after continuous use, or manifest aggression or even a short-lived psychotic episode. It is difficult for most people to consume enough of the drug to develop these more severe symptoms.

A couple of hours after use, a person can begin to experience:

  • Tension
  • Depression
  • Sluggishness
  • Emotional instability
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Lack of concentration
  • Restlessness

Withdrawal Effects of Khat

When a person stops using the drug, he can experience with following withdrawal effects:

  • Nightmares
  • Depression
  • Sedation
  • Low blood pressure
  • Lassitude
  • Trembling
  • Brief hallucinations that occur as a person is going to sleep or waking up

Similar Synthetic Drugs

The two intoxicants in the plant are cathinone and cathine. They are similar to but milder than amphetamine. In the last several years, synthetic forms of this drug have become popular and dangerous. Synthetic cathinones are very often the types of drugs found in “bath salts.” They are far stronger in their synthetic forms. Mephedrone, methylone, methcathinone and MDPV (3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone) are all illicit synthetic drugs in this class.

TO BE CONTINUED……………