Archive for February, 2015

STRESS MANAGEMENT

Posted: February 6, 2015 in Uncategorized

STRESS MANAGEMENT

CONTENT OUTLINE

What is Stress Management
Stress Management Strategy
Types of Stress
Identify source of Stress
Symptom of Stress

Managing stress is all about taking charge of your thoughts, your emotions, your schedule, your environment, and the way you deal with problems. The ultimate goal is a balanced life, with time for work, relationships, relaxation, and fun – plus the resilience to hold up under pressure and meet challenges head on.
What Is Stress?
Stress is a feeling that’s created when we react to particular events. It’s the body’s way of rising to a challenge and preparing to meet a tough situation with focus, strength, stamina, and heightened alertness.
Feeling like there are too many pressures and demands on you? Losing sleep worrying Eating on the run because of your schedule is just too busy? You’re not alone. Everyone experiences stress at times, but there are ways to minimize stress and manage the stress that’s unavoidable.
The events that provoke stress are called stressors, and they cover a whole range of situations — everything from outright physical danger to making a class presentation or taking a semester’s worth of your toughest subject.
Stress management strategy #1: Avoid unnecessary stress
Not all stress can be avoided, and it’s not healthy to avoid a situation that needs to be addressed. You may be surprised, however, by the number of stressors in your life that you can eliminate.
• Learn how to say “no” – Know your limits and stick to them. Whether in your personal or professional life, refuse to accept added responsibilities when you’re close to reaching them. Taking on more than you can handle is a surefire recipe for stress.
• Avoid people who stress you out – If someone consistently causes stress in your life and you can’t turn the relationship around, limit the amount of time you spend with that person or end the relationship entirely.
• Take control of your environment – If the evening news makes you anxious, turn the TV off. If traffic’s got you tense, take a longer but less-traveled route. If going to the market is an unpleasant chore, do your grocery shopping online.
• Avoid hot-button topics – If you get upset over religion or politics, cross them off your conversation list. If you repeatedly argue about the same subject with the same people, stop bringing it up or excuse yourself when it’s the topic of discussion.
• Pare down your to-do list – Analyze your schedule, responsibilities, and daily tasks. If you’ve got too much on your plate, distinguish between the “shoulds” and the “musts.” Drop tasks that aren’t truly necessary to the bottom of the list or eliminate them entirely.
Stress management strategy #2: Alter the situation
If you can’t avoid a stressful situation, try to alter it. Figure out what you can do to change things so the problem doesn’t present itself in the future. Often, this involves changing the way you communicate and operate in your daily life.
• Express your feelings instead of bottling them up. If something or someone is bothering you, communicate your concerns in an open and respectful way. If you don’t voice your feelings, resentment will build and the situation will likely remain the same.
• Be willing to compromise. When you ask someone to change their behavior, be willing to do the same. If you both are willing to bend at least a little, you’ll have a good chance of finding a happy middle ground.
• Be more assertive. Don’t take a backseat in your own life. Deal with problems head on, doing your best to anticipate and prevent them. If you’ve got an exam to study for and your chatty roommate just got home, say up front that you only have five minutes to talk.
• Manage your time better. Poor time management can cause a lot of stress. When you’re stretched too thin and running behind, it’s hard to stay calm and focused. But if you plan ahead and make sure you don’t overextend yourself, you can alter the amount of stress you’re under.
Stress management strategy #3: Adapt to the stressor
If you can’t change the stressor, change yourself. You can adapt to stressful situations and regain your sense of control by changing your expectations and attitude.
• Reframe problems. Try to view stressful situations from a more positive perspective. Rather than fuming about a traffic jam, look at it as an opportunity to pause and regroup, listen to your favorite radio station, or enjoy some alone time.
• Look at the big picture. Take perspective of the stressful situation. Ask yourself how important it will be in the long run. Will it matter in a month? A year? Is it really worth getting upset over? If the answer is no, focus your time and energy elsewhere.
• Adjust your standards. Perfectionism is a major source of avoidable stress. Stop setting yourself up for failure by demanding perfection. Set reasonable standards for yourself and others, and learn to be okay with “good enough.”
• Focus on the positive. When stress is getting you down, take a moment to reflect on all the things you appreciate in your life, including your own positive qualities and gifts. This simple strategy can help you keep things in perspective.
• Adjusting Your Attitude How you think can have a profound affect on your emotional and physical well-being. Each time you think a negative thought about yourself, your body reacts as if it were in the throes of a tension-filled situation. If you see good things about yourself, you are more likely to feel good; the reverse is also true. Eliminate words such as “always,” “never,” “should,” and “must.” These are telltale marks of self-defeating thoughts.
Stress management strategy #4: Accept the things you can’t change
Some sources of stress are unavoidable. You can’t prevent or change stressors such as the death of a loved one, a serious illness, or a national recession. In such cases, the best way to cope with stress
is to accept things as they are. Acceptance may be difficult, but in the long run, it’s easier than railing against a situation you can’t change.
• Don’t try to control the uncontrollable. Many things in life are beyond our control— particularly the behavior of other people. Rather than stressing out over them, focus on the things you can control such as the way you choose to react to problems.
• Look for the upside. As the saying goes, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” When facing major challenges, try to look at them as opportunities for personal growth. If your own poor choices contributed to a stressful situation, reflect on them and learn from your mistakes.
• Share your feelings. Talk to a trusted friend or make an appointment with a therapist. Expressing what you’re going through can be very cathartic, even if there’s nothing you can do to alter the stressful situation.
• Learn to forgive. Accept the fact that we live in an imperfect world and that people make mistakes. Let go of anger and resentments. Free yourself from negative energy by forgiving and moving on.
Stress management strategy #5: Make time for fun and relaxation
Beyond a take-charge approach and a positive attitude, you can reduce stress in your life by nurturing yourself. If you regularly make time for fun and relaxation, you’ll be in a better place to handle life’s stressors when they inevitably come.
Healthy ways to relax and recharge
• Go for a walk.
• Spend time in nature.
• Call a good friend.
• Sweat out tension with a good workout.
• Write in your journal.
• Take a long bath.
• Light scented candles • Savor a warm cup of coffee or tea.
• Play with a pet.
• Work in your garden.
• Get a massage.
• Curl up with a good book.
• Listen to music.
• Watch a comedy
• Set aside relaxation time. Include rest and relaxation in your daily schedule. Don’t allow other obligations to encroach. This is your time to take a break from all responsibilities and recharge your batteries.
• Connect with others. Spend time with positive people who enhance your life. A strong support system will buffer you from the negative effects of stress.
• Do something you enjoy every day. Make time for leisure activities that bring you joy, whether it be stargazing, playing the piano, or working on your bike.
• Keep your sense of humor. This includes the ability to laugh at yourself. The act of laughing helps your body fight stress in a number of ways.
Stress management strategy #6: Adopt a healthy lifestyle
You can increase your resistance to stress by strengthening your physical health.
• Exercise regularly. Physical activity plays a key role in reducing and preventing the effects of stress. Make time for at least 30 minutes of exercise, three times per week. Nothing beats aerobic exercise for releasing pent-up stress and tension.
• Eat a healthy diet. Well-nourished bodies are better prepared to cope with stress, so be mindful of what you eat. Start your day right with breakfast, and keep your energy up and your mind clear with balanced, nutritious meals throughout the day.
• Reduce caffeine and sugar. The temporary “highs” caffeine and sugar provide often end in with a crash in mood and energy. By reducing the amount of coffee, soft drinks, chocolate, and sugar snacks in your diet, you’ll feel more relaxed and you’ll sleep better.
• Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs. Self-medicating with alcohol or drugs may provide an easy escape from stress, but the relief is only temporary. Don’t avoid or mask the issue at hand; deal with problems head on and with a clear mind.
• Get enough sleep. Adequate sleep fuels your mind, as well as your body. Feeling tired will increase your stress because it may cause you to think irrationally.

TYPES OF STRESS
Life Crises
Research has proven that the experiences that we have encountered over the years are likely to cause diseases which do not manifest until later on in life.
The death of a spouse or a truly loved one causes the highest level of stress, followed by divorce and a marital separation.
The conflicts intertwined with relationships with people close to you cause you the most stress.
Occupational Stress
As humans, more of our time is spent working compared to any other awake activity.
Occupational stress is a result of a factor or a combination of factors at work. It impacts the worker, disrupting their psychological or physical wellbeing. It can be caused by a number of factors including work overload and stimulus underload. Work overload results from the burden of excess work. It may also be caused by the ambiguity of the task required of the worker. Stimulus underload happens when there are not enough tasks for the worker to undertake. It can cause job dissatisfaction, post traumatic stress syndrome, and increase the level of cholesterol and the heart rate.
Social Networks Disintegration
Relationships have been proved to be one of the more important aspects of our human life, especially to our psychological and physical well being.
Thus if someone who you truly cherish passes away, your social network begins to disintegrate as feelings of loneliness start to take over. This is because as humans, we need the warmth and love that relationships bring to us and the removal of one of these relationships can be heartbreaking.
Identify the sources of stress in your life
Stress management starts with identifying the sources of stress in your life. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. Your true sources of stress aren’t always obvious, and it’s all too easy to overlook your own stress-inducing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Sure, you may know that you’re constantly worried about work deadlines. But maybe it’s your procrastination, rather than the actual job demands, that leads to deadline stress.
To identify your true sources of stress, look closely at your habits, attitude, and excuses:
• Do you explain away stress as temporary (“I just have a million things going on right now”) even though you can’t remember the last time you took a breather?
• Do you define stress as an integral part of your work or home life (“Things are always crazy around here”) or as a part of your personality (“I have a lot of nervous energy, that’s all”).
• Do you blame your stress on other people or outside events, or view it as entirely normal and unexceptional?
Until you accept responsibility for the role you play in creating or maintaining it, your stress level will remain outside your control.
Good Stress and Bad Stress
The stress response (also called the fight or flight response) is critical during emergency situations, such as when a driver has to slam on the brakes to avoid an accident. It can also be activated in a milder form at a time when the pressure’s on but there’s no actual danger like stepping up to take the foul shot that could win the game, getting ready to go to a big dance, or sitting down for a final exam. A little of this stress can help keep you on your toes, ready to rise to a challenge. And the nervous system quickly returns to its normal state, standing by to respond again when needed.
Stress doesn’t always happen in response to things that are immediate or that are over quickly. Ongoing or long-term events, like coping with a divorce or moving to a new neighborhood or school, can cause stress, too.
Long-term stressful situations can produce a lasting, low-level stress that’s hard on people. The nervous system senses continued pressure and may remain slightly activated and continue to pump out extra stress hormones over an extended period.
This can wear out the body’s reserves, leave a person feeling depleted or overwhelmed, weaken the body’s immune system, and cause other problems. Stress is the feeling of being under pressure. A little bit of pressure can:
• increase productivity
• be motivating
• improve performance
However, too much pressure or prolonged pressure can lead to stress, which is unhealthy for the mind and body. It can cause symptoms such as:
• difficulty sleeping
• sweating
• lack of appetite
• difficulty concentrating

Symptoms of stress
Stress affects different people in different ways and everyone has a different method of dealing with it.
The hormones that are released by your body as a result of stress can build up over time and cause various mental and physical symptoms. These are listed below.
Mental symptoms
Mental symptoms of stress (that affect your mind) include:
• anger
• depression
• anxiety
• changes in behaviour
• food cravings
• lack of appetite
• frequent crying
• difficulty sleeping (due to mental health problems)
• feeling tired
• difficulty concentrating
Physical symptoms
Physical symptoms of stress (that affect your body) include:
• chest pains
• constipation (an inability to empty your bowels)
• diarrhoea (passing loose, watery stools)
• cramps or muscle spasms, when your muscles contract (shorten) painfully
• dizziness
• fainting spells, where you temporarily lose consciousness
• biting your nails
• nervous twitches
• pins and needles (paraesthesia), a cold, burning, prickling or tingling sensation in your arms, legs, hands or feet
• feeling restless
• sweating more
• sexual difficulties, such as erectile dysfunction (an inability to get or maintain an erection) or a loss of sexual desire
• breathlessness
• muscular aches
• difficulty sleeping (due to physical problems)
Unhealthy ways of coping with stress
These coping strategies may temporarily reduce stress, but they cause more damage in the long run:
• Smoking
• Drinking too much
• Overeating or undereating
• Zoning out for hours in front of the TV or computer
• Withdrawing from friends, family, and activities • Using pills or drugs to relax
• Sleeping too much
• Procrastinating
• Filling up every minute of the day to avoid facing problems
• Taking out your stress on others (lashing out, angry outbursts, physical violence)
Many health problems are caused or exacerbate by stress, including:
• Pain of any kind
• Heart disease
• Digestive problems
• Sleep problems • Depression
• Obesity
• Autoimmune diseases
• Skin conditions, such as eczema
If you have experienced some of these symptoms for a long time, you are at risk of developing high blood pressure (hypertension). This can lead to:
• a heart attack: a serious medical emergency where the supply of blood to your heart is suddenly blocked, usually by a blood clot
• a stroke: a serious medical condition that occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted
Things that influence your stress tolerance level
• Your support network – A strong network of supportive friends and family members is an enormous buffer against life’s stressors. On the flip side, the more lonely and isolated you are, the greater your vulnerability to stress.
• Your sense of control – If you have confidence in yourself and your ability to influence events and persevere through challenges, it’s easier to take stress in stride. People who are vulnerable to stress tend to feel like things are out of their control.
• Your attitude and outlook – Stress-hardy people have an optimistic attitude. They tend to embrace challenges, have a strong sense of humor, accept that change is a part of life, and believe in a higher power or purpose.
• Your ability to deal with your emotions. You’re extremely vulnerable to stress if you don’t know how to calm and soothe yourself when you’re feeling sad, angry, or afraid. The ability to bring your emotions into balance helps you bounce back from adversity.
• Your knowledge and preparation – The more you know about a stressful situation, including how long it will last and what to expect, the easier it is to cope. For example, if you go into surgery with a realistic picture of what to expect post-op, a painful recovery will be less traumatic than if you were expecting to bounce back immediately.
Am I in control of stress or is stress controlling me?
• When I feel agitated, do I know how to quickly calm and soothe myself?
• Can I easily let go of my anger?
• Can I turn to others at work to help me calm down and feel better?
• When I come home at night, do I walk in the door feeling alert and relaxed?
• Am I seldom distracted or moody?
• Am I able to recognize upsets that others seem to be experiencing?
• Do I easily turn to friends or family members for a calming influence?
• When my energy is low, do I know how to boost it?
Top Stressful Life Events
1. Spouse’s death- bereavement (loss of a loved one)
2. Divorce
3. Marriage separation
4. Jail term
5. Death of a close relative
6. Injury or illness
7. Marriage
8. Fired from job
9. Marriage reconciliation
10. Retirement
11. money worries
12. job issues
13. relationships
14. family problems
15. moving house
The situations and pressures that cause stress are known as stressors. We usually think of stressors as being negative, such as an exhausting work schedule or a rocky relationship.
However, anything that puts high demands on you or forces you to adjust can be stressful. This includes positive events such as getting married, buying a house, going to college, or receiving a promotion.
What causes stress depends, at least in part, on your perception of it. Something that’s stressful to you may not faze someone else; they may even enjoy it.
For example, your morning commute may make you anxious and tense because you worry that traffic will make you late. Others, however, may find the trip relaxing because they allow more than enough time and enjoy listening to music while driving.

Common external causes of stress
Not all stress is caused by external factors. Stress can also be self-generated:
• Major life changes
• Work
• Relationship difficulties • Financial problems
• Being too busy
• Children and family
Common internal causes of stress
Not all stress is caused by internal factors. Stress can also be self-generated:
• Inability to accept uncertainty
• Pessimism
• Negative self-talk • Unrealistic expectations
• Perfectionism
• Lack of assertiveness
What’s Stressful For You?
What’s stressful for you may be quite different from what’s stressful to your best friend, your spouse, your colleague, or the person next door. For example:
• Some people enjoy speaking in public; others are terrified.
• Some people are more productive under deadline pressure; others are miserably tense.
• Some people are eager to help family and friends through difficult times; others find it very stressful.
• Some people feel comfortable complaining about bad service in a restaurant; others find it so difficult to complain that they prefer to suffer in silence.
• Some people may feel that changes at work represent a welcome opportunity; others worry about whether they’ll be able to cope.



How to Manage and Relieve Stress in the Moment
Learn how to manage stress (Using Emotional Intelligence)

You may feel like the stress in your life is out of your control, but you can always control the way you respond. Managing stress is all about taking charge: taking charge of your thoughts, your emotions, your schedule, your environment, and the way you deal with problems. Stress management involves changing the stressful situation when you can, changing your reaction when you can’t, taking care of yourself, and making time for rest and relaxation. In fact, the simple realization that you’re in control of your life is the foundation of stress management
Learn how to relax (Relaxation Exercises to Reduce Stress, Anxiety, and Depression)

You can’t completely eliminate stress from your life, but you can control how much it affects you. Relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing activate the body’s relaxation response, a state of restfulness that is the opposite of the stress response. When practiced regularly, these activities lead to a reduction in your everyday stress levels and a boost in your feelings of joy and serenity. They also increase your ability to stay calm and collected under pressure.
Quick Stress Relief

Most people ignore their emotional health until there’s a problem. But just as it requires time and energy to build or maintain your physical health, so it is with your emotional well-being. The more you put in to it, the stronger it will be. People with good emotional health have an ability to bounce back from stress and adversity. This ability is called resilience. They remain focused, flexible, and positive in bad times as well as good. The good news is that there are many steps you can take to build your resilience and your overall emotional health.
THE CONSEQUENCES OF STRESS
Diseases – Stress has been the reason for 50-80% of diseases.
Insomnia – The inability to fall asleep.
Hypertension – High blood pressure, which can lead to lethal complications.
Aging – Research has proven that people age faster when they experience more stress.

Dealing with Stressful Situations: The Four A’s
Change the situation:
• Avoid the stressor.
• Alter the stressor. Change your reaction:
• Adapt to the stressor.
• Accept the stressor.