Stress is our mental, physical, emotional, and behavioral reactions to a perceived demand or threat. Stress is unique to each individual and comes from situations or thoughts that result in one feeling frustrated, angry, or anxious. Although stress is an unavoidable consequence of life, experiencing some amount of stress in our lives is beneficial as it protects us from danger, prepares us to react quickly and appropriately in a crisis, prepares us to meet challenges, and motivates us to perform our best and overcome challenges. Nonetheless, most of us experience excessive amounts of stress in today’s competitive world, and this becomes quite distressing and harmful for our cognitive, physical, and emotional health.
Detrimental Effects of Stress
Cognitive Effects: Decreased ability to concentrate, store new information, and recall learned information as well as reduction in productivity and creativity.
Emotional Effects: Irritability, anxiety, depression, restlessness, loss of interest, and anxiety.
Physical Effects: Hypertension, suppressed immune system, increased risk of coronary artery disease, heart attack, and stroke; premature ageing, digestive problems, sleep problems, obesity.
Coping with Stress
In order to minimize these detrimental effects of stress, it is imperative to have effective coping methods. Below are some of them:
1 - Find a support system: Find someone to talk to about your feelings and experiences
2 - Change your attitude: Find other ways to think about stressful situations. Learn to accept things you cannot change without trying to exert more control over them
3 - Be realistic: Set practical goals for dealing with situations and solving problems. Develop realistic expectations of yourself and others.
4 - Get organized: Being unorganized or engaging in poor planning often leads to frustration or crisis situations, which most always leads to feeling stressed. Plan your time, make a schedule, establish your priorities.
5 - Take breaks; give yourself “me time”: Learn that taking time to yourself for rejuvenation and relaxation is just as important as giving time to other activities.
6 - Take good care of yourself: Eat properly, get regular rest, and keep a routine. Allow yourself to do something you enjoy each day.
7 - Learn to say “no”: Learn to pick and choose which things you will say “yes” to and which things you will not.
8 - Get regular exercise: Exercising regularly can help relieve some symptoms of depression and stress, and help us to maintain our health.
9 - Get a hobby: For a balanced lifestyle, play is as important as work. Leisure activities and hobbies can be very enjoyable and inspiring, and they can offer an added sense of accomplishment to our lives.
10 - Slow down: Know your limits and cut down on the number of things you try to do each day, particularly if you do not have enough time for them or for yourself.
11 - Laugh, use humor: Do something fun and enjoyable such as seeing a funny movie, laughing with friends, reading a humorous book, or going to a comedy show.
12 - Learn to relax: Develop a regular relaxation routine. Try yoga, meditation, or some simple quiet time.
Heartwork Counseling Center offers professional services in stress management by trained psychotherapists. Please call us at 404-658-1222 and one of our therapists will be glad to work with you.