We are often subject to stress, the chronic and primarily psychological pressures of modern life. Yet we also suffer consequences when the body’s biological mechanisms for handling stress go awry. Fortunately, we have the ability to control our reaction to stressful situations.
85 percent of adults know that they may suffer adverse health effects from stress
An estimated 75-90 percent of doctor’s visits are related to symptoms caused by stress
Stress has been linked to leading causes of death – heart disease, cancer lung ailments, accidents and suicide, as well as numerous other disorders.
Unmanaged stress can suppress the immune system
People under constant stress may accumulate fat around their abdomen due to higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
What is Stress?
Stress occurs when there is a mismatch between the demands we experience and the resources we have to deal with those demands. A stressor is a situation, event or demand that causes stress. Stress is not an event, but our reaction to that event. When left unchecked, physical, emotional, and mental resources can become depleted, leading to illness symptoms of chronic stress including:
Chronic muscle tension and headaches
Chest pain and a rapid heart rate
Frequent illnesses or infections such as colds
Intestinal problems or pain
High blood pressure
Changes in appetite
Insomnia and teeth grinding
Irritability and lashing out
Increase in smoking, drinking or drug use
In order to overcome and change some of our negative responses to stress, we can use alternate strategies including:
Prayer or meditation
Practicing coping and relaxation skills
Improving organizational and time management skills
Categorize Your Stressors
A helpful exercise is to list all your stressors. Include everything – traffic, workload, disorganization, lack of communication, relationships, illness, housework, etc. You might find that simply creating the list makes you feel a little more in control. Take each item on your list and ask yourself two questions about each one:
1. How important is it?
2. Can I control or change it?
Focus most of your resources on those stressors that are important and controllable. Action is when you do something that actively changes a situation. Examples of actions include learning time management skills, using problem solving skills, practicing assertive communication or implementing money management.
Stress Coping Techniques
Coping skills help offset the negative effects of stress. They do not change the situation, but they give you a positive outlet and help your mind and body rest, rejuvenate and recover. They include: physical activity/exercise, a nutritious diet, adequate sleep, using positive thoughts, finding fun and laughter and effective time management.
Practice Quick Relaxation Exercises
Practice quick relaxation techniques such as:
Listening to music
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