What is Stress?
We all experience stress. Stress is the body's reaction to an unexpected change in our life that requires a physical, mental or emotional adjustment or response. The cause can be internal – thoughts about ourselves, our situation, our health. The cause can be external too - from our immediate environment, other people, like family, friends, and co-workers, the nature of the work we do, social situations, or the economic environment, among many others.
Stress is a natural phenomenon simply because of our interaction with others and our environment. However, the amount and type of stress is what can make it an issue that needs attention. Knowing the signs of stress is the first step in dealing with it. Stress can be prevented, reduced, controlled and managed.
Keep in mind everyone responds differently to stressful situations and no one has the same experience.
Normal and Positive Stress
Short-term stress can be energizing. It can act as a positive and even creative force in our lives. It can motivate us to make improvements in our quality of life.
However, sometimes stress becomes overwhelming and feels out of control, and positive stress can shift to a negative stress.
Possible Signs of Negative Stress
- High blood pressure
- Trouble sleeping or insomnia
- Shortness of breath
- Weight gain or loss
- Physical pain such as muscle stiffness, backache, and headache
- Physical discomforts such as upset stomach, constipation or diarrhea
- Problems with relationships
Preventing & Reducing Stress
- Exercise on a regular basis
- Eat regular, well-balanced meals
- Get enough sleep
- Socialize with your family, friends and neighbors
- Meditate and keep your thoughts positive
- Listen to calming music
- Don't worry about things you can't control
- Solve the little problems. This can help you gain a feeling of control
- Prepare to the best of your ability for events you know may be stressful
- Try to look at change as a positive challenge, not as a threat
- Work to resolve conflicts with other people
- Talk with a trusted friend, family member or counselor
- Set realistic goals at home and at work. Avoid over-scheduling
- Participate in activities you don't find stressful, such as sports, social events or hobbies