Stress and Coping with Stress
Stress Can Cause Both Mental and Physical Complications
One great way to keep your mind and your body healthy is by keeping your levels of stress down. Test your stress levels to find out if you are suffering from too much stress and read our article about a recent study linking the effects of black tea and stress. Also begin to reduce your stress with the many handy tips provided in our article on stress relief and find out how you can keep calm in stressful situations. Keeping your cool when stressed can help you maintain your physical health because it can prevent your blood pressure from rising and your heart from working too hard.
Too Much Stress?
Stress isn't always a bad thing. In small doses, stress acts as a powerful energizer that can motivate us to meet important challenges. Stress, in small doses, may even stave off or delay damage to your cells. Still, long term stress, or the kind that comes in large doses, may overwhelm your coping resources and take a toll on your health and psyche. Today we know that too much stress can lead to depression, anxiety, heart disease, musculoskeletal issues, an impaired immune system, and even cancer.
Different people respond in different ways to stress. This is influenced in large measure by your life experiences, personality, and your genetic predisposition. Some situations deemed stressful to one person may not bother another person at all. On the other hand, you may have a particular sensitivity to very minor stressors.
In order to improve your coping skills, it's necessary to identify your personal stress triggers. You can make a start by keeping a stress journal. To do this, jot down, over the course of a week, events and situations that elicit a negative response from you. Write down the date, time, and place, along with a short description of the situation. Who were the main characters? What do you think acted as the stress trigger? Describe how you felt and acted. Record your physical symptoms and your feelings. Describe what you said and did. Then, rate your distress on a scale of 1-10, with 10 representing the most intense response.
Next, make a list of all your responsibilities and rate the level of stress they cause on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the most intense. Some examples would be carpool duties, attending to elderly parents, volunteer work, and work or study commitments.
Now take a hard look at the personal data you've collected to look for patterns. Look for the events and duties that earned a high stress rating and try to think up ways to change these situations so that they resolve or improve.
For instance, if you find yourself chomping at the bit while shopping at the supermarket because you hate crowds that bump into you with their carts and turn you black and blue and you go out of your mind from the long lines at the cashier, think about changing the time and day you shop to first thing in the morning, midweek, when the doors are just opening. You'll be amazed at the calm quiet and find yourself in and out of the store in under a half an hour.
The best way to cope with stress is to change a stressful situation to a more manageable one.