Sunday, July 24, 2011

Managing The Stress In Your Life

While we often worry about stress, not all stress is bad. We need a certain amount of stress to make our lives interesting. And since there is no way to eliminate every commitment or deadline in our lives, we should try to control our stress levels in the best ways we can.

It would be nice if someone created a mathematical formula for stress that would measure how much stress an individual could take without become overwhelmed. Optimal stress levels vary from individual to individual, however, as well as from situation to situation. Some situations that would make you feel very stressful are considered fun and invigorating to someone else. People who love constant change in their lives would feel too much stress in a tedious, mundane job. You can see how different people’s definitions of stress may be. Scientists believe that many illnesses are directly related to stress. If you find that you are sick a lot of the time, or that you feel nervous often, you must develop effective strategies to cope with your stress level. Otherwise, you could be open to serious physical deterioration. Stress management is a practiced art, however. You will not relieve your stress in one day; you must keep at it and eventually, you will discover methods that work for you.

A first step is to learn what things make you stress out. While you may not be able to eliminate these things, you can work to make them more manageable. If cooking dinner causes stress, for instance, you may consider getting take-out food once a week to give yourself a break. If giving a presentation at work worries you, maybe you can learn to focus on just one section at a time and reduce your stress in that way. If commuting to work makes you stressful, leave a little earlier. It will become easier to address your overall stress if you discover the things that cause it and then try to limit their impact.

The next step is to try to reduce your emotional reactions to the things that stress you. You may find that these stressors make you think in a negative fashion, focusing only a situation’s worst aspects. Try, instead, to think of a stressor as a chance to improve your life. Try to see if you are overreacting to a situation. It may be that every stressor you encounter does not require an urgent response. Maybe you can take some time to study a situation before it bothers you. Think of yourself as in control – while you may not be able to do anything about the stressor itself, you can control how you feel about it.

Be sure to be aware of any physical reactions you have to stress. Deep-breathing techniques can help you decrease your heart rate, for example. If you have severe reactions, consult your doctor to determine if medication can help you. You can also reduce your stress levels by making your body stronger. Do aerobic activities three times per week, and make sure you eat nutritious foods. Avoid stimulants like sugar and coffee. And recognize that stress is a part of life. While it can’t be eliminated, you can develop coping strategies that will help when you feel overwhelmed.

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