Stress can start with money worries or a health scare. It can be instigated by a traffic jam, a disagreement with a partner, or unreasonable demands at work or at school. Recently, several people have asked me about stress and how it affects us physically. How can a six-letter word wreak so much havoc and bring so much turmoil to our lives and health? Or does it?
Stress is a fact of life. It can exact a toll upon us physically, emotionally, and psychologically. But the truth is, we determine how it affects our lives. Stress is our body’s way of responding to any kind of demands or threats. In small doses, stress can be a positive force in our lives. It can work as a motivator, improve brain function, help us prepare for work or school presentations and tests, and can help increase athletic ability. It may also keep us safe in dangerous situations. Stress becomes negative when someone continuously faces challenges without relaxation or relief between them.
Some physical warning signs of out-of-control stress are dizziness, general aches and pains, headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, skin conditions, asthma, increase or decrease in appetite, weight gain or weight loss, sexual problems, irritability, and forgetfulness.
So how can you manage your stress and keep it from taking over? Here are a few ideas:
- Make a daily to-do list – placing most important items at the top and crossing off as you complete each one
- Eat whole, natural foods
- Learn to say "no" to the things you cannot or don't wish to do
- Take time for your own interest and hobbies
- Get enough rest/sleep
- Don’t self-medicate
- Cultivate a sense of humor
- Talk with family and friends; they may have an objective view and may offer a great suggestion or solution to help with the stress
- DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF!