We all talk about stress, but we are not always clear about what it is.
Stress is the body’s way of responding to any kind of demand. It comes from both the good and the bad things that happen to us. If we did not feel any stress, we would not be alive!
Stress becomes a problem when we are not sure how to handle an event or a situation. Then worry sets in, and we feel “stressed.”
Because each of us is different, there is no one “correct” way to cope with stress. However, there are a number of different things that can be done, and it is helpful to look at both short and long-term solutions to reducing stress. Identify your problems.
Is your job, your relationship with someone, or money worries causing you stress? Are unimportant, surface problems masking real, deeper ones? Once you are fairly sure you know what the problem is, you can do something about it.
Solve your problems. Start thinking about solutions. What can you do, and what will be the consequences?
Should you be looking for a less stressful job? Do you need marriage counselling? Should you talk to a financial expert about money management? What will happen if you do nothing?
If you follow this problem-solving strategy, you should be able to make some changes to take the pressure off yourself. This long-term way of reducing stress in your life is something everyone, sooner or later, will need to do.
Talk about your problems. You may find it helpful to talk about your stress. Friends and family members may not realize that you are having a hard time. Once they understand, they may be helpful in two ways: first, by just listening to you vent your feelings and second, by suggesting solutions to your problems. If you need to talk with someone outside your own circle of friends and relatives, your family doctor will be able to refer you to a mental health counsellor.
Learn about stress management. There are many resources such as books and online sites to help you cope with stress. There are also counsellors who specialize in stress; ask your family doctor for a referral to one.
Reduce tension. Physical activity can be a great stress reducer. Go for a walk, take up a sport, dig in the garden. You may find it helpful to learn some relaxation and stretching exercises. If you make a habit of taking pressure off yourself by getting rid of your tension, you will find yourself less stressed and more able to solve the problems that caused your stress in the first place.
Take your mind off your problems. You may be able to get rid of stressful feelings temporarily by getting busy. If you get involved in hobbies, sports or work, you can give yourself a “mental holiday” from your stress. Not thinking about your problems for a while can give you a little mental distance from them and make them easier to solve later on.
Your feelings a
bout the events in your life are very important and it is impossible to have a stress-free life. Your goal should be to avoid getting to that stage where your energy stores are drained and you become chronically stressed, risking your physical and psychological well-being.
Submitted by Agassiz Community Health (credit to the Canadian Mental Health Association)