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Stress Management

August 23, 2011

Recognizing Good Stress
We all know Stress causes adrenaline to surge. It can be said that the rigor of Stress helps us meet the challenges of everyday life. The body’s Stress reaction is intended to protect us. As a positive force, it is a stimulus to do our best work, keep us alert and energized, find solutions to problems and keep us focused on the world around us. Certainly without adrenaline and cortisol, the Stress hormones, we wouldn’t be able to meet critical deadlines or run from danger.

Understanding Bad Stress
Stress is  described as  a change in bodily responses to an event occurring in daily life. Often there is a lack of understanding of what the event means to our overall well being. Stress that is excessive and protracted over time can leave us anxious, uncertain, depressed, uncomfortable, and can lead to dysfunctional behaviors. Persistent Stress disrupts the symmetry, routines and patterns, and goals of our lives. It can decrease our capabilities to the point where accelerating dysfunctional behaviors compromise healthy decision-making. So, Stress also is a negative that is most particularly bad in the long term for our health and our relationships, as well.

Stress can be acute, referring to a rapid onset. Episodic Stress means that it occurs one after another in an extended series. Stress occurring over a long period of time is called chronic Stress. The constant change in daily life continually presents us with Stressful situations, such as complicated work situations, loneliness, continual deadlines, financial worries, moving, changing jobs, death in the nuclear family, divorce, complex health problems, and physical or mental abuse, just to name a few. Most often Stressful events are unavoidable events. Clearly then, these situations challenge us to make adjustments in our own coping mechanisms.

Learning Symptoms of Stress
Negative reactions to Stress can be viewed as altering functions in physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral arenas, even deteriorating into a tolerance of excesses. Knowing these symptoms can help determine that stress has overtaken our ability to function! Identifying these symptoms/responses will alert us to the need to make necessary lifestyle changes. Examples of signs and symptoms of Stress include:

Fearing the Outcome
When a Stressful event subsides, the body’s normal self-regulating Stress-response system decreases hormone levels, the heart rate and breathing rate, the pounding in the chest, and the cold sweats. The body’s systems return to baseline levels and resume their regular functions. However, the long-term release of cortisol, in particular, dramatically heightens the risk to normal body processes and the risk of numerous life-changing health problems. Eventually, the release of adrenaline and cortisol into the blood stream will cause those front line symptoms listed above that are so familiar: exhaustion, uneven sleep, forgetfulness, lack of concentration. Cortisol can produce long term symptoms because of excessive levels in the bloodstream. This is associated with a suppressed immune system and, therefore, increased colds and allergies and feelings of failure and depression. The body’s overexposure to these hormones also increases the risk of heart disease, obesity, and memory impairment.

Using Corrective Techniques
Obviously, a healthy lifestyle must incorporate knowledge and skills in managing the Stressful situations of even everyday living. This will reduce their impacts on the body’s systems and provide an emotional equilibrium that comes from a sense of being in control. The most elementary coping mechanisms may be overlooked for their simplicity but should be employed purposefully as an antidote to stress pressures. For immediate relief:

  • Listen to relaxing music, purposefully
  • Call a friend that listens and uplifts
  • Eat like you know you should – avoiding sugars and fatty foods, purposefully
  • Practice deep breathing exercises, purposefully.
  • Exercise, even briefly and even walking, purposefully.
  • Take a large handful of grapes to help induce a seven hour sleep, purposefully. (Grapes release serotonin that produces melatonin.)
  • Find your sense of humor and laugh, purposefully

For life-changing events and ramifications, find professional assistance with a physician, a mental health counselor, a crisis hotline or an emergency room. Taking action exercises control and, ultimately, will bring about increased peace of mind and, hopefully, a longer and healthier life.

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From → Life Skills

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