Personal Development – Stress Management
Sunday Miller is a joy to watch and listen to, I was impressed with her presentation. She was able to impart her everyday skills and I felt her presentation gave us clues on how to meet and seize the day. She was great.
If you are living, breathing, and walking the earth you are going to have stress. Sad to say that is a product of life. The negative aspect is that ‘stress is a killer’. It is known that stress, be it mental, physical or emotional can cause bad health, depression and decrease your level of productivity. In our society today we have a tendency to deal with the symptoms of a problem instead of the root cause of the problem. We do the same with stress. We treat symptoms of stress instead of the cause of stress. This of course prolongs the stress and perhaps adds even more stress to your life. If you are running your own business the stress is multiplied due to the long hours and all the decision making that has to be made, not to mention the effect that the economy will have on your business and therefore, on you, the entrepreneur. But there is good news. There are some things that you can do to alleviate the stress in your life and prevent it from killing you. Before we go there let’s define stress.
What is stress?
Stress is the way we react, emotionally, mentally or physiologically to an event or situation, which in and of itself is not bad. Our ancestors’ stress response kept them from being fodder for some beast. It was identified as their ‘fight or flight’ response and it was a positive response. The physiological response that we have today to stress is the same as when they had to make the decision to fight or run. Today, of course the ‘fight or flight’ response may not be the acceptable solution to the situations that we are facing. We can’t kill or run away from everything that stresses us. Unless we manage our stress it will lead to deteriorating health, lack of productivity, depression, etc. There are two general categories of stress. They are as follows:
Positive Stress (Eustress)
Positive stress helps us to concentrate, focus, and perform. It can often help us to reach peak efficiency. Then when the pressure is off your able to relax and build up your emotional and physical reserves until the next challenge arrives.
That is when we stay geared up after the challenge has been met and we do not relax. In today’s society many people feel that stress is a way of life. But when stress becomes a constant, ongoing cycle in our lives our health and well-being suffer. Negative stress has been linked with many physical ailments, from tension headaches to heart attacks. The good news is that stress does not have to be hazardous to our health. We can learn to manage the stress in our lives.
There are three types of stress: physical, emotional and mental.
Physical stress is anything that occurs to threaten our physical body. When our body is threatened it goes into an adrenaline producing mode. Once the stressful situation is over the body returns to normal and we stop producing adrenaline.
Emotional stress occurs when:
1) something threatens our beliefs, values, security or well-being;
2) we try to adjust to change;
3) we lose control and feel vulnerable and helpless;
4) our expectations are not realized.
Mental stress usually involves other people and their emotions, values, and behaviours. People, situations or events that cause us stress do so for one of four reasons:
1) We feel threatened. By this I mean that our values, personal or financial security, our well-being and/or other key aspects of our lives have been put in jeopardy
2) We experience change.
3) We lose our sense of control and feel helpless and vulnerable
4) Our expectations are not realized (regardless if the expectations are realistic or not)
Mental and emotional stress are very closely linked together. You can’t have one without having the other.
There are three ways in which we respond to stress.
1) We resist the stress and fight our co-workers, spouses, etc. or;
2) We avoid the stress by sticking our heads in the sand (using alcohol or drugs) and hope that whatever is making us feel bad will go away or;
3) We confront/adapt – we try to identify the cause of our stress and eliminate it and if that is not possible we adapt to it.
Since we don’t all respond to things in the same manner it is not relevant to talk about specific issues that may be stressful for me but not be stressful to you. This difference is the result of perception and that is not going to be dealt with here. The important point is that you need to be able to identify what is stressing you and then learn how to turn those stressful situations into positive opportunities.
Positive stress makes us feel sharply focused, energized, motivated, aware of options, and challenged. Bad stress makes us feel tense, anxious, angry, frustrated or depressed. We feel like lashing out or withdrawing. Negative stress, which occurs when we feel taken advantage of for extended periods of time, or if we are uncertain about our future or, burdened by financial difficulties, produces a lack of energy, chronic depression, health problems, and low self-esteem. It is important to stop the cycle of negative stress. This can be achieved by practicing relaxation techniques and by developing a positive attitude and lifestyle.
Doctors estimate that 75% of all medical complaints are stress related. The most common complaints include:
- Insomnia/sleep disorders
- sexual dysfunction
- Muscle aches
- High blood pressure/heart attacks/strokes
- Chronic illnesses (flu, colds, etc.)
At least 50% of the population suffers from at least one of these stress symptoms on a regular basis. Medicintre may relieve the immediate discomfort but it will not eliminate the source of the stress. In the meantime the body’s immune system becomes impaired due to the continual release of stress hormones. Adrenaline being released for short periods of time is not harmful but a continual release of cortisol will reduce our body’s ability to fight disease.
Symptoms of ongoing stress include:
- Isolation from family and friends
- Drug/alcohol abuse
- Increase in smoking
- Irritability/rapid mood swings
- compulsive eating/dieting
- child/spouse abuse