Ways to Manage Stress

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Ways to Manage Stress Powered By Docstoc
					Although stress is often viewed as a negative, it is actually a natural
and normal physical response. A stress response is simply the body’s
ability to defend and protect itself. This “fight-or-flight” reaction can
help a person stay energetic, alert, and focused. These behaviors can be
beneficial. A winning touchdown, successful board room presentation, or
an A on a test can all be partially due to a healthy stress response.
However, too much stress can become harmful and can cause extreme damage
to a person - physically, mentally, and relationally.

Chronic stress is caused when the body is subjected to an overwhelming
amount of physical and psychological threats. Since the body cannot
differentiate between extreme or moderate stress triggers, it reacts with
the same intensity, regardless of how major or minor the cause. This
means that a bounced check or a long commute can be the catalyst for
intense stress related symptoms (that may feel as intense as a real life-
or-death crisis). Symptoms may include muscle tension, headache, fatigue,
anxiety, changes in eating habits, mood swings, lack of enthusiasm,
and/or an upset stomach.

Each person has a different tolerance level when it comes to calculating
stress. It is important for each individual to understand his or her
stress level threshold. Factors that influence stress tolerance include:
one’s ability to deal with emotions, one’s preparedness for stress-
inducing circumstances, one’s sense of control, one’s attitude, one’s
support network, one’s physical health and nutritional status, one’s
fitness level, and one’s sleep habits. These variables are what enable
one person to maintain a sense of calm while another person feels
completely overwhelmed.

Just as each person must evaluate the factors that cause stress, it is
essential for individuals to consider the ways in which they react to
stress, and whether or not their responses need to be altered. Some
individuals react by freezing up and becoming extremely internally
agitated. Some become very outwardly agitated and may become volatile.
Others become withdrawn and show little to no emotion. Understanding
personal stress triggers and individual reactions are key in moving
forward and coping with stress.

Although stress can affect any individual, those with fast-paced and
challenging work environments (such as medical professionals) are more
likely to experience the symptoms and signs of stress. Strategies for
managing stress (whether it’s work related or personal) include: avoiding
unnecessary stress, changing one’s situation or environment, adapting to
and accepting one’s environment, upping one’s fitness level, and
scheduling time for personal leisure and relaxation. Taking control of
one’s life and prioritizing what’s truly important (and worth stressing
over) are integral methods of managing stress.

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