August 2014

Managing Your Stress

Managing Your Stress



What is Stress?

Stress is the physical, mental and emotional response our bodies experience when we are exposed to conflict in our constantly changing environment. Stress has physical, mental and emotional effects on us. These effects can be both positive or negative. When they positive affects and our body and emotions are also positive we benefit from them in many ways. This is positive stress, which we more commonly think of as challenge." Generally, however, we do not think about positive stress as most of our attention is usually placed on negative stress and its negative after effects.

Negative stress, which we will simply refer to as "stress" throughout the remainder of this report is part of the Flight and Fight Mechanism of the body. Stress can alert us to take action either to protect our self or to respond to events in our environment. When we are stimulated by stress we often see things differently than in our ordinary state of consciousness. Sometimes stress can force us to take a new look at old problems and to create a new perspective on our life.

There are also negative after effects. They can be physical in nature and we often think of this as "wear and tear" of life or illness. However, it is also not unusual to find that there are mental and emotional responses that can result in feelings of distrust, anger, rage and even depression. It is these negative effects of stress which we refer to as conflict that can lead to health problems such as headaches, upset stomach, rashes, insomnia, ulcers, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. Generally we think of any health problem which was either caused by or made worse by stress as a Stress-Related Disorder.

While we generally think of stress as something having to do with the death of a loved one, financial problems, relationship problems it can also occur with seeming positive situations such as the birth of a child, a job promotion, or a new relationship. In a sense we experience stress whenever we readjust some portion of our life to changes around us. In the process of adjusting to so many different circumstances, stress can either help or hinder us. The main operative factor is not the event that is occurring but rather how we respond to it.

To help you understand stress a little better you might consider the following definition: Stress is the difference between the way we want the world to be and the way it actually is. This definition allows us to see that stress does not come from outside of us but rather from inside of us from the way we believe the world is and the way we have decided we want the world to be. Therefore stress is a response to our picture of the world around us. To our picture of who we think we are and to our world view.


How Can I Eliminate Stress From My Life?

As we have seen, positive stress adds positive things to our life. It creates a sense of anticipation and a is the stuff of the excitement of life. We generally thrive with a certain amount of positive stress in our life. Many people need positive stress in their life, it allows them to feel alive and stimulated. They crave deadlines, they are competitive, the enjoy confrontations. Insufficient stress, on the other hand, acts as a depressant and may leave us feeling bored or dejected even empty. The world would be quite lopsided if we only had positive stress in our life. Our frustrations and sorrows add a certain depth and enrichment to our lives. It has been said that no one can have any real joy in their life until they have experienced real pain. Too much stress can create us to feel "tied up in knots." What is necessary is to learn how to find the right balance of positive and negative stress in our life. We should feel motivated but not overwhelmed.

Our goal should not be to eliminate all stress in our life, rather to learn how to manage it and how to use it to help us. It should also be to reduce or eliminate those conflicts which are causing physical, mental or emotional illness.


How Can I Tell When I have Created the Right Balance?

There is no single level of stress that is optimal for all people. Each individual must find his or her own personal balance point. What distresses one person might bring joy to another. Even when we agree that a particular event is distressing, we are likely to differ in our physiological and psychological responses to it.

The person who loves to arbitrate disputes and moves from job site to job site would be stressed in a job which was stable and routine, whereas the person who thrives under stable conditions would very likely be stressed on a job where duties were highly varied. Each one of us has a different set of stress requirements and the amount which we can tolerate before we become distressed often changes during the course of our life.

Since70% to 80% of all illness seen in medical practice is either caused by or related to unrelieved stress you can certainly see that stress must be understood and dealt with. If you are experiencing stress symptoms, or you are experiencing symptoms of illness and your doctor cannot give you a specific reason why they are occurring you have probably gone past your own personal stress level; you will need to reduce the stress in your life and/or improve your ability to manage it before the illnesses take over your life and leave you with a chronic illness..


What is the Basis of Stress Management?

In order to manage stress we must first be able to identify it. We must be able to tell which conflicts are causing problems and which are not. Simply identifying stress or being aware of its effect on our lives is, however, not enough. Knowing that stress exists or what cause it does not on its own reduce its harmful effects. Just as there are many sources of stress, there are many ways to manage it. At the base of all of the various methods of stress reduction is the need to work toward change. We must effect the source of the stress and we must change our reaction to it.


Techniques Of Stress Management

Find the conflicts that stress you and determine their physical and emotional reactions on you.

  • Notice any distress you are experiencing on a day to day level. Don't ignore your feelings. Don't down
       play your problems and conflicts.
  • Determine what events or situations distress you. Notice what you tell yourself about meaning of these
       events and situations?
  • Determine how your body responds to stress. Notice if you become nervous or physically upset and
       under what circumstances.
  • Look for what you can change.

  • Can you change your the things that stress you by avoiding or eliminating them completely?
  • Can you reduce the way they affect you by dealing with them over a longer period of time such as
       days or weeks?
  • Can you shorten your time of exposure to stress. Can you take a break, leave the physical premises
       or change your picture of your life?
  • Can you devote the time and energy necessary to making whatever changes are really needed. Can
       you work more at setting goals, use time management techniques, or delay your need for gratification
       over a longer period of time?
  • Reduce the intensity of any emotional reactions to stress.

  • The stress reaction is triggered by your perception of danger, or by the difference between the way
       you want something to be and the way it actually is... physical danger, emotional danger real or
       imagined. Are you viewing your the things that create stress in you realistically or are
     taking a difficult situation and making it worse?
  • Are you expecting to please everyone?
  • Are you expecting others to please you when they can't?
  • Are you over reacting and viewing things as absolutely critical and urgent when they are not?
  • Do you feel you must always prevail in every situation?
  • Are you work at adopting more realistic views of your life and the world around you?
  • Try to temper your excess emotions. Put the situation in perspective. Do not labor on the negative
       aspects and the "what ifs."
  • Learn how to relax.

  • It is a well known fact that you cannot be stressed and relaxed at the same time. If you can learn
       relaxation techniques you can drive stress out of your body.
  • Slow, deep breathing will bring your heart rate and respiration back to normal.
  • Relaxation techniques not only reduce muscle tension but as we said earlier it eliminates stress.
  • Biofeedback, acupuncture, exercise and stretching can help you gain voluntary control over your
       muscle tension, heart rate, and blood pressure.
  • Medications, when prescribed by a physician, should only be used for short term relief or for relieving
       your physical reactions. Medications are not the answer, too often they relieve the immediate
       discomfort and keep people from working on solving the problems that have caused their
       stress. Learning to moderate these reactions on your own is a preferable long-term solution.

  • Build your physical reserves.

  • Exercise for cardiovascular fitness three to four times a week (moderate, prolonger rhythmic exercise
       is best, such as walking, swimming, cycling, or jogging).
  • Eat well-balanced, nutritious meals. Eliminate refined foods, sugars, simple carbohydrates, caffeine
       and stop smoking.
  • Maintain your ideal weight.
  • Avoid all stimulants.
  • Mix leisure with work. Take time off. A break or getting away when you can may be helpful at times
       of high tension or stress.
  • Get plenty of sleep. Create a consistent sleep pattern.

  • Maintain your emotional reserves.

  • Develop a support system. Friendships and healthy relationships can be valuable at times of stress.
  • Maintain realistic goals which are meaningful to you. Avoid goals that others set for you.
  • Expect some frustrations, failures, and sorrows. Life is about trail and error. Without mistakes we
       learn much less
  • Be kind and gentle to yourself, also be a friend to yourself, if you are not who really can be.