Learn to identify causes of stress in your life and find healthy ways to handle it.
What is stress?
Stress is your body’s response to various events in your life. These exciting, frightening, confusing or irritating events can cause a physical, emotional or chemical reaction in your body. Getting married, having a new baby, losing a job or having difficulty with a friend or family member can all be sources of stress.
How does stress affect my health?
When in a stressful situation, the body instantly responds with a surge of hormones. These hormones cause your heart to beat faster, elevate blood pressure and blood sugar and quicken breathing. Chronic stress can cause medical problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, ulcers, arthritis, migraine headaches and many other ailments.
What can I do?
- Breathe! Inhale to the count of five and exhale to the count of five. You can do this anywhere—at the grocery store or at a red light.
- Learn what helps you to relax: take a warm bath, listen to calming music, read a book, do a crossword puzzle.
- Day dream—picture yourself in a safe and relaxing environment: on a warm beach or in the peaceful mountains.
- Talk positively to yourself with affirming thoughts and feelings.
- Balance your work and personal life.
- Build a strong support system of friends.
- Learn to slow down.
- If you have a personal spiritual faith, take time to pray and listen.
- Shift from being self-centered to others-centered.
- Keep a sense of humor. Laugh at yourself. Smile at people. Really! When you make a big smile, your body releases chemicals that help you to relax.
- Release grudges. (The old saying “Holding a grudge is like taking poison yourself in the hopes the other person dies” is so true.)