Stress – steps to manage

The Stressed Out Life

More than 75 percent of doctor visits are stress-related. Could stress be to blame for your ailment?

Stress is a normal part of life. Every day you face demands, pressures, and challenges you must deal with. The way your body perceives these stressors and reacts to them determines whether stress is positive or negative.

Positive stress, also called eustress, can be a powerful motivator to reach a goal, stay alert, or avoid danger. Negative stress on the other hand—also known as distress—can control you and affect your physical and emotional well-being when not kept in check.

How do you respond to stressors? Do you see them as challenges to overcome or as challenges overcoming you? What happens when you’re constantly in a state of distress and can’t seem to relax or escape what’s weighing you down? Read on to find out.

The Physical Side of Stress

It’s been proven that the mind-body connection is real. Mental anguish caused by chronic stress can exhibit itself in your physical health. What may begin as feeling overwhelmed at work or worried about a troubled relationship can easily translate into health concerns of your own to deal with.

Headaches, back or neck pain, dizziness, gastrointestinal disorders, frequent colds, arthritis, chest pain, asthma, ulcers, diabetes, high blood pressure, insomnia, eating disorders, and weight gain can all be related to stress.

Does your child complain of a stomachache every morning before school? There may be something or someone causing your young student distress. Do you have trouble sleeping due to the worries on your mind? Before running to the doctor, take a hard look at what’s causing you tension and anxiety and deal with that issue first. It may give you the opportunity to solve your health dilemma without a copay or pill.

The Mental and Emotional Sides of Stress

Unmanaged stress can negatively affect your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. How many evenings do you come home from work feeling frustrated, angry, or short-fused? You may need to check your stress at the door. Negative stress can also play a role in nervousness, the inability to concentrate, depression, anxiety, lack of motivation, and irritability.

These emotions often lead to destructive behaviors and habits like substance abuse, overeating, under-eating, or social withdrawal. Get stress under control and you may avoid all of these negatives.

Steps to Manage Stress

Like stated before, stress is a part of life, so you’ve got to learn how to control it before it ends up controlling you. The longer stress goes unchecked, the worse its effects will be on both your mind and body. Sometimes stress doesn’t cause health or emotional issues, but it can make existing problems worse. If you’re suffering from stress-related issues, it’s time to take steps toward managing that stress.

The first step is to identify your stressors. Is it your mother-in-law, your boss, public speaking, or your messy house? Whatever it is, figure out the stressors and then make a plan on how to address the situation in the future. You cannot altogether avoid your stressors, so think of the best way to deal with them without being stressed out. Determine what would help alleviate your stress and work towards that end.

When you feel yourself getting stressed out, find healthy ways to release the stress before it builds up. Go for a jog, practice relaxation techniques, do yoga or Tai chi, take a hot bath, listen to music that relaxes you, do a hobby, spend time with a close friend, watch a funny movie, and get plenty of sleep.

Still feeling stressed? Make an appointment with a mental health professional who can help you identify your stressors and the most effective way of dealing with them.

Work It Out

Regular exercise is one of the best ways to manage stress. Exerting yourself through exercise increases your body’s production of endorphins, the brain chemicals responsible for boosting your mood.

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