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By Stephen Rhodes
What is Stress?
To understand the need for stress management, we must first understand stress. When a person is in danger, the body reacts, preparing to defend itself. The heart rate increases, blood pressure climbs higher, breathing becomes faster and blood flows to the muscles. This is great if a fierce dog is chasing you, because it gives you additional energy to get out of harm’s way. Unfortunately, the body reacts in the same way in response to daily problems and changes and over time this causes issues. Your body is ready to flee, but you don’t need an extra spurt of speed. With no way to release this additional energy, you become nervous, anxious and worried. This is called stress.
Physical issues such as an illness, lack of sleep or eating poorly can cause stress. Stress can also be caused by mental pressures like worrying about work or a death in the family. Major life changes can also cause stress. Not only negative changes such as being laid off from a job, but changes that are considered positive as well, such as a marriage or a promotion at work can result in stress.
What Problems are Associated with Stress?
Stress management can help with the physical effects of stress. Stress can cause a number of health problems and can make existing problems worse. Fatigue, back pain, depression, high blood pressure, insomnia, headaches and constipation are just some of the signs of stress.
Stress Management Techniques
Stress management is the process of dealing with stress and lessening its negative effects.
To effectively deal with stress, it is necessary to sense when you are feeling stress. Next, you must determine what is causing the stress. This will be different for each individual. For example, one person might consider the daily commute a great time to wind down from work and listen to relaxing music in the car, while another finds the rush hour traffic incredibly stressful.
Once you have recognized the cause of the stress, see if you can get away from it or avoid it completely. If that is not possible, consider ways to lessen your exposure to the stressor. For example, can you spend less time engaging in a stressful activity? Can you limit the activity to certain days?
Think about your emotional reaction to stress. Do you try to perform every task perfectly? Are you trying to keep everyone happy? These attitudes are bound to cause stress when you fail to live up to your own expectations. In the name of stress management, take it easier on yourself, ask for help if you need it and recognize that no one is perfect.
Exercising regularly is a great stress management technique. The physical activity releases pent-up energy and distracts you from your anxiety, helping you to relax.
Other Stress Management Tips
– Get plenty of sleep every night
– Get away from stressful situations by participating in hobbies and other activities you enjoy
– Prepare well in advance for stressful events
– Meditate or use deep breathing exercises
– Eat healthy, nutritious meals and limit the amount of alcohol and caffeine you consume
– Manage time wisely and don’t take on more than you can handle
– Ask for help if you need it
– Learn conflict resolution skills and use them
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