Are you too stressed?
Everyone manages stress differently, and what causes stress for one person
doesn’t necessarily trigger stress in another person.
Causes of Acute Stress
Acute stress is a sudden event that immediately elicits a stress reaction.
These events could happen TO you or just near you or to a loved one. Examples
include a traumatic accident, death, an emergency situation, a workplace
event, or new onset of an illness or diagnosis of a terminal disease.
Causes of Chronic Stress
Everyday life, including family responsibilities, or living with a chronic
illness, can all lead to chronic, ongoing stress.
Some of the top stressful life events, both positive and negative, are
the death of a spouse or close family member, divorce, separation, personal
illness or injury, marriage, pregnancy, retirement, or spending time in jail.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Major stressful life events that are especially traumatic can lead to Post-Traumatic
Stress Disorder (PTSD) which is most commonly associated with wartime
vets, rape victims and other violent crime victims. Those with PTSD repeatedly
experience the ordeal in the form of flashback episodes, memories, nightmares,
or frightening thoughts, especially when they are exposed to events or
objects that remind them of the trauma.
Feelings of intense guilt are common, especially if others did not survive
the traumatic event. Professional help is required for treatment of PTSD.
Stress can affect your mental health and can cause irritability, lack of
energy, lack of concentration, depression, anger, sadness and tension
It also affects your physical health by causing a host of issues such as:
- Difficulty with sleep
- Altered eating habits
- Weight gain or loss
- Heart disease such as high blood pressure
- Worsening diabetes
- Neck/ back pain
- Change in sexual desire
- Difficulty conceiving
- Skin rashes/hives
You can learn to manage stress and cope with what stresses you. Start with
these stress busters:
Hit the gym. Regular exercise dissipates stress through your muscles - and boosts your mood.
Make an appointment with yourself. Write it down in your date book or planner, and do something you enjoy--a
manicure or pedicure, for example.
Breathe deep. Deep breathing exercises can be very calming.
Get some sun. Even a brief break outside in the sunshine can lift your spirits - but
don’t forget the sunscreen.
Stretch yourself. Stretch up with both arms in the air, one at a time, and then follow with
five deep breaths to soothe tensed-up muscles.
Be a groupie. Get involved with a group activity - interact with other people, whether
it’s a book club meeting or just a regular girls’ night out.
Give yourself a timeout. Shut the office or bedroom door, turn off the phone and the pager, and
give yourself 10 to 15 minutes of quiet time - “mindfulness”
time to meditate.
Skip the candy bar break. Sugary, fatty comfort foods may offer a temporary feeling of well-being,
but in the long run they don’t help you manage stress.
Tense and relax your muscles. Starting with your head, tense and relax your entire body, moving downward
in groups of muscles.
Anticipate and adapt. Try to head off stress before it hits by thinking about what really pushes
your buttons. Prepare yourself in advance by changing what you can –
temper your responses.
Deep Breathing Exercises
- Lie down or sit in a chair.
- Rest your hands on your stomach.
- Slowly count to four and inhale through your nose. Feel your stomach rise.
Hold it for a second.
- Slowly count to four while you exhale through your mouth. To control how
fast you exhale, purse your lips like you’re going to whistle. Your
stomach will slowly fall.
- Repeat five to 10 times.
Stressful situations are often hard to avoid. They can even be happy occasions,
such as having a baby. To make the most of all occasions in your life,
follow all stress-busters. Don’t ignore the signs until you’re
mentally and physically worn down. If de-stressing techniques don’t
seem to work, don’t be afraid to seek help. You’ll be your
best self as soon as you rid yourself of some stress!