The Importance of Stress Management

Stress – the mere word can cause anyone to cringe and feel on-edge. Stress is how the body reacts to any kind of demand, threat or change being experienced. It is usually associated with a feeling of being overwhelmed. It is important to note that stress is not a “one size fits all” concept. What stresses one person out may not faze the next person based on the way in which they perceive the stressor. This is why it is important to understand the causes and effects of stress, as well as how to identify your own stressors and ways to properly manage your stress.

A wide variety of conditions, situations and pressures can cause stress to any one person at any given moment. These stress-causing situations and pressures are known as “stressors.” Stressors can come from external and/or internal factors, such as the ones below:

Common Internal Stressors:

  • – Chronic worry
  • – Pessimism
  • – Negative self-talk
  • – Unrealistic expectations/Perfectionism
  • – Rigid thinking, lack of flexibility
  • – All-or-nothing attitude

 

Common External Stressors:

  • – Major life changes
  • – Work or school
  • – Relationship difficulties
  • – Financial problems
  • – Children and family

 

The common public misconception is to label stress as a bad thing, but in reality, stress can actually be very healthy. When the body experiences a stressor, its fight-or-flight response kicks in as a way to protect itself by staying focused, energetic, and alert. Studies have shown that a healthy amount of manageable stress can lead to increased brain functioning, a boosted immune system and better preparation for future stressful situations, which can positively affect emotional health with your work and home life.

When chronic stress is not properly managed, however, it can cause serious health effects including; increased blood pressure, suppressed immune system, greater risk of heart attacks and strokes and an increased chance of experiencing some form of mental or emotional health issues. The symptoms of stress can be experienced mentally, physically, emotionally and behaviorally. Do a quick stress assessment by looking at the chart below. The more symptoms you are able to identify, the more at risk you are for experiencing a potential stress overload.

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If you find yourself experiencing several of the above symptoms and feel as if the stress in your life is overwhelming, it is time to take back control. The first step in managing your stress is recognizing any warning signs and identifying the stressors in your life. Taking full control of your stress management will require you to change the stressful situation when you can and influence your reaction to the situation when you cannot.

At Verve Health, we promote integrative stress management techniques that coincide with techniques identified by the National Institute of Mental Health. These include:

  • – Exercising regularly and adopting a healthy lifestyle
  • – Exploring stress coping programs, which may incorporate meditation, yoga, tai chi, or other gentle exercises.
  • – Engaging socially
  • – Avoiding unnecessary stressors by setting priorities and learning to say “no” to tasks
  • – Changing the situations, adapting or accepting the things you cannot change
  • – Making time for things you enjoy and helping you relax

Please seek help from a qualified mental health care provider if you are overwhelmed, feel you cannot cope, have suicidal thoughts, or are using drugs or alcohol to cope.

Resources:
[1] www.helpguide.org
[2] http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/stress/index.shtml