Stress is your body’s automatic physical and emotional reaction to a demand, pleasant, or unpleasant, placed upon it.
Stress is most often caused by change, such as loss of a loved one, job or career change, pregnancy, illness/injury, vacation, or lifestyle change. Some people are more prone to the ill effects of stress due to poor coping skills and unhealthy attitudes about themselves and the world around them.
In our fast-paced, modern society, researchers have noticed that today we experience more stress in one year than our ancestors did in a lifetime. On a daily basis we may experience 20 to 40 negative and positive stressors. Many of these stressors are a part of our daily routine, such as driving in heavy traffic. The way we cope with these stressors can either enhance our lives or lead to physical and/or emotional difficulties. Stress is a part of life and a certain amount of stress is good for us. It helps keep us alert and provides us with challenges and motivation. On the other hand, if ignored, some of these stressors may weigh us down.
Signs of Too Much
Prolonged stress, or “distress,” can affect one’s physical and/or emotional health. Some warning signs include frequent headaches, poor eating habits, irregular sleep patterns, hyperactivity, fatigue, anger, and depression. If not properly dealt with, these and other stress symptoms can affect our level of functioning at home, work or school and our personal interactions with others. Approximately 70-90% of our illnesses today are stress related.
The key to coping with stress is for us to manage stress before it manages us!
Work Off Stress
Stress is energy. Through physical activities, such as swimming, biking, playing tennis, gardening or walking, you can let go of that stressful energy. This helps you get recharged and allows your mind and body to function more effectively.
Take Care of Yourself First
Set realistic expectations and daily demands of yourself. Balance both work and play into your lifestyle. Laugh often each day.
Change What You Can
Often times we cannot change a situation or event that causes us stress, but we can change the way we think about it and the tools we use to cope with it.
Talk Out Stress
Talking about your stressors with someone you trust, such as a family member, friend, co-worker, clergy member, teacher, or therapist helps relieve stress. Sharing your feelings honestly with another person can help you put the problem in perspective.
Learn To Relax
Find a few quiet moments each day to clear your mind. Allow your mind and body to work together to help regain self-control and deal with stressors in healthy ways.
For More Information
If you would like more information about coping with stress or other topics, please contact the New Horizons Counseling Center at (815) 235-6171.