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Stress Management

What is Stress?

Stress is the way that your body may be responding to any kind of demand or threat (known as the stressor). When an individual feels threatened because of an event or a major change in their life for example, their body will react in a “fight-or-flight” causing such reaction in the body. When an individual experiences stress, they are likely to also experience an increase in their heart rate, a tightening in their muscles, and/or an increase in blood pressure for example.

Stress affects anybody and everybody at some point in their lives whether it is disciplining the kids, finding a job, working to complete a degree, finances, the home, or busy times in general to say the least. Although some stress may be okay, and some may even be beneficial, there is a point in which the amount of stress your body is experiencing will make you sick, tired, and will bring you down. It is important to note that every individual will experience stress differently and therefore, their reactions and symptoms will vary. Because of that, it is important for every individual to talk to their doctor about what they are experiencing.

For example, the following emotional symptoms may be present when experiencing stress:

  • An individual may become easily agitated, moody, and frustrated
  • An individual may feel that they are losing control in their life
  • An individual may have a hard time relaxing
  • An individual may begin to avoid others
  • An individual may begin to feel lonely and worthless

On the other hand, the following physical symptoms may be present when experiencing stress:

  • Headaches
  • An individual may have low energy
  • An individual may have an upset stomach (i.e. diarrhea, nausea, or constipation)
  • An individual may have aches, pain, and/or muscle tensions (i.e. chest pain or rapid heart rate)
  • Insomnia
  • An individual may constantly have colds or infections
  • An individual may lose the desire for sex or are unable to do so
  • An individual may experience ringing in the ear, they may be sweaty or nervous
  • An individual may have a clenched jaw and grinding teeth

In addition, the following cognitive symptoms may be present when experiencing stress:

  • An individual may constantly be worrying
  • An individual may have racing thoughts or may be unable to focus
  • An individual may be forgetful, disorganized, and may have poor judgement
  • An individual will tend to only look at the dark side of things

Lastly, the following behavioral symptoms may be present when experiencing stress:

  • There is a change in appetite (will overeat or not eat at all)
  • An individual begins to procrastinate and avoid their responsibilities
  • An individual may have an increase in their alcohol or drug consumption
  • An individual may exhibit more nervous behaviors (i.e. fidgeting or nail biting)

How can I cope with stress?

  • Exercise
    • It could help you lift your mood and distract you from what is worrying you
  • Talk to others
  • Engage your senses
    • Does listening to one song help you reduce your stress? Does the song make you feel calm?
  • Learn how to relax
    • Engage in yoga, meditation, and deep breathing activities
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Get your rest
    • Maintain a natural sleep-wake cycle
      • Try getting up at the same time & wake up at the same time
      • Avoid sleeping in on weekends
    • Control your exposure to light
    • Improve your sleep environment
      • Keep noises down & in a cool room