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A professor I once had simply defined stress as “any and everything that does NOT go according to YOUR plans”. Hence, proving a valuable point that life is filled with unavoidable stressful situations. Our goal should be finding and experimenting with different ways to diminish stress that has been presented, instead of pretending that stress is not an authentic aspect in our daily lives.

So what’s the real deal with stress, you ask?


Stress is technically defined as a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.  Stress is caused by situations involving change, whether its good changes or bad changes.

  • Getting Married
  • Getting Divorced
  • Death of a loved one
  • Welcoming a new child into the world
  • Financial Issues
  • Housing
  • Relationships and Friendships
  • Deadlines
  • Balancing Life
  • Job loss or Change

 

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But stress isn’t all bad. Stress is actually good for us, it’s used as our bodies defense mechanism. This is called fight or flight. When we are put into stressful situations our body naturally prepares us to either fight or run for our lives. Which is a great thing for that moment. When stress becomes chronic, then it becomes a problem.  Chronic stress is when the body stays in a stressful state for a long period of time causing adrenaline and cortisol to keep releasing into your system, your breathing and heart rate remain high, and blood pressure also stays elevated. Your immune system weakens and you began to suffer from physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral symptoms.  Common effect that stress has on the: 

 

 BODY:

  • Muscle tension/pain
  • Chest pain
  • Change in sex drive
  • Upset stomach
  • Fatigue/Sleep Issues
  • Headaches
  • etc…

MOOD:

  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Lack of focus/motivation
  • Irritability/Anger
  • Sadness/Depression

BEHAVIOR:

  • Overeating or Under eating
  • Drug/Alcohol Abuse
  • Social Withdrawal
  • Angry Outburst 

Chronic Stress has been linked to:

  • Heart Problems
  • Asthma
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Headaches (tension and migraines)
  • Depression/Anxiety
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Accelerated Aging
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Arthritis
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Strokes
  • the list keeps going on…. 

Ways to manage stress:

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  • Deep Breathing
  • Meditation
  • Massage Therapy
  • Yoga/Tai Chi
  • Exercising
  • Eating Healthy
  • Sleep
  • Positive Affirmations
  • Planning ahead & scheduling accordingly
  • Setting Goals
  • Positive Imagery
  • Music Therapy
  • etc…

20140409-014352.jpgHow to prevent chronic stress:

  • Deal with stressful situations
  • Communicate your feelings
  • Let go of the past
  • Have Faith
  • Get at least 6-8 hours of sleep
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Exercise regularly
  • Ask for help when you need it
  • And most importantly TAKE TIME TO ENJOY LIFE!!!

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Chronic Stress is something that I personally suffer from. I have to work extra hard to keep myself from stressing. This subject touches me deeply, because I know the toll that stress takes on the body physically, mentally, and emotionally. I have had numerous anxiety attacks, asthma attacks, I’ve been on bed rest twice due to stress induced illness, and a host of other issues all due to stress. It’s very serious, but it is also something that can be managed and prevented with proper dedication and research. Find stress management techniques that work to help you. Maybe meditation and yoga aren’t for you, but you find peace in bike riding or hiking.

 

How do I manage my stress?

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I had a very hard time admitting that I have issues with stress, mainly because I didn’t want people to think that I was going crazy or too think that I was weak. It wasn’t until my body started having random and unexplainable reaction that I began to take it seriously. The first step is always admitting to yourself that there is a problem. Confronting the problem helped me to realize what I needed to change in my life in order to keep me healthy and stress free.

  1. The #1 way that I manage my stress is through prayer. I just pray and I hold on to the faith. I remind myself over and over that God will work things out and I have no reason to stress about it. All I need to do is relax, be patient, and wait for things to fall into place.
  2. Telling people “No” is definitely the #2 way that I manage my stress . One huge thing that I suffer with is trying to help and accommodate everyone. That usually causes me to not pay attention to the care that I need to give myself.
  3. I had given meditation a try a few years back and it didn’t really work out well for me. Unexpectedly a few months ago I decided to give it another try, I’ve been meditating frequently since then.
  4. I Love, Love, Loooooove Yoga!!!! Especially in the morning I find that it sets a relaxing tone for the rest of my day.
  5. When I find myself in a sudden stressful situation, I instantly stop whatever I’m doing , close my eyes, and take a few long deep breathes.
  6. When I feel the world piling up on my shoulders, I disconnect. I turn off my phone or put it on silent, I stay in the house, cuddle with my baby boy, we listen to music, watch movies, and enjoy the day with no distractions.
  7. I remind myself everyday why I’m blessed and why I’ve been chosen to live another day. I count my blessing rather than count all the thing I don’t have. Keeping a positive mind and looking toward the light at the end of the tunnel has really help me to keep my life in order. I keeps me motivated when things get really difficult and it seems like I’m not going to make it through the storm.
  8. I also cook, and bake, or go for long car rides to nowhere. 
  9. I enter my “happy place” aka “unicorn land”. No one or nothing can bother me when I’m there.
     

Do you have a “happy place”? How do you manage your stress?

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I really hope that this information was helpful and if it doesn’t apply to you maybe it may help you to notice a loved one struggling to manage their stress level.

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Twitter: @cece_wheeler

Written by: Cecily Wheeler

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