Stress manifests in many areas of everyday life. From the workplace to personal relationships, we regularly experience demands, expectations, and commitments that require our attention on a daily basis. Stress effects most of us, but the difference lies in how we respond.
While some people are adept at identifying and coping with stressors as they arise, others may not be aware that stress is taking a toll on their emotional and physical well-being. We may not realize it, but stress is the main contributor to many common health issues we experience today. Stress can trigger headaches, heart attacks, muscle spasms, chronic disease, anxiety, and poor work performance. Without adequate coping strategies, the accumulation of stress in our lives can lead to poor cognitive performance, relationship problems, and major health issues.
Signs of accumulated stress
Emotional/Physical symptoms of stress may include:
- Nervousness, anxiety
- Depression, lingering sadness that doesn’t go away
- Moodiness, overreaction to small things
- Feeling out of control
- Constant fatigue and poor sleep quality
- Lack of concentration
- Excess weight gain or loss
- Shortness of breath, chest pain, or irregular heartbeat
- Skin problems (eczema, hives)
- Immune system suppression (frequent colds, infections, etc.)
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Cold hands and feet
Coping strategies to deal with stress
Recognizing stress and prioritizing your well-being is the first step towards harmony. You can take further steps to reduce feelings of stress by:
- Taking time to relax and breathe deeply – place a sticky note or reminder on your computer screen, mirror, or refrigerator to remind yourself to slow down and breathe deeply.
- Pace yourself – Write lists to prioritize things needed to be done. Take occasional breaks when needed and go for a walk, phone a friend, or do a simple stretch to stay energized.
- Engage in anti-stress activities such as yoga, meditation, exercise, reading for pleasure, and listening to relaxing music.
- Improving your diet – limit your alcohol intake, reduce caffeine levels, and stay away from smoking. Consider adding vitamins and supplements to your diet.
How you view stressful situations also influences your stress response. Adjust your outlook on stress and be aware of negative self-talk. Instead, approach the situation with positivity. If coping independently is not enough, getting in touch with one of our marriage and family therapists can help you navigate stressors and find ways to cope that are more helpful.
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