Stress Management 10 Practical Steps

The World Health Organization calls stress "the health epidemic of​ the​ 21st century." Stress resulting in​ illness is​ the​ causative factor underlying more than 70% of​ all visits to​ the​ family doctor,​ medical doctors suggest. What is​ stress? We all talk about it​ but what does 'stress' mean and how does it​ affect our bodies?

Dr. Hans Selye,​ who first noted and described the​ concept of​ stress,​ defines stress as​ "the non-specific response of​ the​ body to​ any demand made upon it." Stress is​ neither good nor bad. the​ effect of​ the​ stress is​ not determined by the​ stress itself,​ rather it​ is​ determined by how we handle the​ stress.

Effects of​ Stress

1. "Emergency Response" the​ emergency response mechanism activates with a​ physiological change when people believe they are in​ physical or​ mortal danger. Pupils dilate,​ blood pressure increases,​ and the​ production of​ stress hormones increase. the​ body prepares within seconds to​ respond,​ which is​ known as​ the​ 'fight or​ flight' syndrome. the​ adrenal glands pour out adrenaline and the​ production of​ other hormones is​ increased by the​ quickly reacting pituitary-adrenal-cortical system of​ the​ brain.

This is​ a​ healthy,​ adaptive response to​ immediate danger but if​ continually activated,​ this emergency response may cause a​ constantly higher-than-normal level of​ hormone production that can eventually cause physical wear-and-tear on​ the​ body. Health problems related to​ this constant high level of​ response include hypertension,​ headaches,​ ulcers,​ heart disease,​ and increased vulnerability to​ diabetes and colitis.

2. "General Adaptation Syndrome" in​ studies,​ Selye came to​ believe that diseases of​ adaptation such as​ hypertension could be produced by abnormal or​ excessive reaction to​ stress. the​ body would increase its supply of​ hormones in​ order to​ be ready for action to​ stress. Over a​ prolonged period of​ time,​ excessive stress leads to​ distress and the​ accompanying physical,​ emotional,​ mental,​ and spiritual health problems.

Contributing factors to​ distress include a) your attitude to​ life and b) your mood (optimistic or​ pessimistic). Both help to​ create the​ atmosphere that assists your defence system in​ repairing small wounds,​ bruises,​ and infections. This is​ also the​ system that tries to​ destroy strange cells such as​ those of​ cancer,​ including leukaemia.

In mastering stress,​ you​ have to​ figure out what you​ are doing that contributes to​ your problem/challenge and change it. the​ four categories of​ change include: change your behaviour,​ change your thinking,​ change your lifestyle choices,​ and/or change the​ situations you​ are in. Symptoms of​ overstress include fatigue,​ aches and pains,​ anxiety,​ problems sleeping,​ depression,​ and lack of​ joy in​ your life

Practical Steps to​ Stress Management and Creating Balance

1. Make your life regular like 'clock work.' Go to​ bed and get up at​ the​ same time each day.

2. Give yourself a​ break today.

3. Say 'No' more often when other people want your time. This includes social engagements,​ the​ family dinner on​ Christmas,​ Thanksgiving,​ etc.

4. Postpone making any changes in​ your living environment if​ you​ have been coping with undue stress. Change of​ any kind is​ stressful and limiting it​ until later is​ a​ good strategy if​ you​ are under a​ lot of​ pressure.

5. Reduce the​ number of​ hours you​ spend at​ work or​ school. if​ you​ are a​ work-a-holic or​ school-a-holic you​ need to​ reduce the​ energy drain on​ your body. TAKE SOME TIME OFF.

6. Nutritional eating habits and eating small meals helps to​ keep your blood sugar stabilised. Many people reach for something high in​ sugar content when feeling stressed which compounds the​ problem. Eat more vegetables.

7. Rest your mind,​ as​ mind activities alleviate stress. These mind activities include reading,​ working on​ a​ craft,​ listening to​ music,​ playing a​ musical instrument,​ meditation,​ self-relaxation,​ dancing,​ and biofeedback.

8. Have a​ worry time if​ you​ must worry. When you​ find yourself worrying over a​ problem,​ set aside a​ time (I suggest to​ my students 7:30pm on​ Tuesday night) and then put off worrying until that time. Chances are you​ will not even remember what you​ were stressing yourself about.

9. Book time for yourself. in​ your daily or​ weekly schedule book time first for yourself and then the​ other activities you​ are involved in. Don't let anything,​ except an​ emergency,​ usurp your commitment to​ yourself.

10. Have a​ massage or​ another form of​ self-care activity.

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