Stress is the combination of psychological, physiological, and behavioral reactions that people have in response to events that threaten or challenge them. Stress can be good or bad depending on the situation which someone is facing. Having stress doesn’t have to be all bad, sometimes; stress can be helpful, providing people with an extra boost of energy or alertness. Stress can be triggered by large events such as the death of a loved one, a serious illness, an automobile accident, and challenges at work or natural disasters. However, it is important to note, seemingly small events can also create stress or trigger a stressful response. Being overlooked for a much needed promotion, losing your job, being stuck in traffic, relationship breakup, receiving unsolicited advice regarding what you are “doing wrong”, opinions about your relationship, career choices, etc.

Stress is an inevitable part of life; we will all experience stress in some way at different times in our life. It is also safe to say that not all stress is bad; some stress is actually good for you and can serve as a motivator for change. However, too much stress can become a noticeable problem in your life in a number of ways, leading to challenges in functioning, concentration, memory, engaging with others, managing mood, etc. Unfortunately, feelings of panic, anxiety and helplessness are common for people under too much pressure, such as having to care for a sick or dying parent, loss of income, medical/mental health issues, etc. Stress can cause or contribute to the occurrence of many physical ailments, including high blood pressure, headaches, an upset stomach, ulcers, insomnia, obesity, a weakened immune system, heart disease and stroke.

Fortunately, stress does not have to interfere with daily functioning, or become debilitating. Stress can be managed in a number of different ways that can help those suffering from increased stress reduce their amount of stress and improve overall physical and emotional health.

Tips That Can be Used to Reduce or Eliminate Stress Include:

  • Appropriate identify what is causing the stress in your life and isolate them, i.e., triggers
  • Refrain from taking on too many obligations or conflicting obligations
  • Try not to bring the stress and tension from work home with you
  • Try to get enough sleep
  • Engage in healthy eating habits
  • Focus on the positive aspects of your life
  • Perform relaxation techniques
  • Spend some times doing the things you enjoy
  • If you find stress is interfering or creating challenges in functioning, your relationship, or causing problems at work seek counseling to manage negative feelings

Effects of Stress on the body Include:

  • Headache
  • Muscle tension or pain
  • Chest pain
  • Change in sex interests and drive
  • Nausea
  • Interruptions in normal sleeping and eating patterns

Effects of Stress on Behavior

  • Aggressive behavior
  • Changes in eating and or sleeping patterns, i.e., overeating, not eating enough, sleeping excessively, etc.
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Self isolating behaviors/social withdrawal
  • Inability to follow through or completing tasks

Common effects of stress on your mood

  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Feeling of hopelessness/helplessness
  • Intense feelings of sadness
  • Increased anger

Examples of Good Stress Include:

  • Aiming High- Aiming high can actually inspire a person to achieve a goal, become more confident or physical and mentally stronger. Examples of Good Stress
  • Significant life change (positive) – Getting a much desired promotion/starting a new job, getting married, the birth of a child, etc.
  • Traveling – Seeing and experiencing different part of the world
  • Stepping outside of your comfort zone- trying new things that you were curious about
  • Starting a new relationship- Starting a new relationship can be a little stressful until a connection or a bond has been established with your new partner, i.e., there will always be bumps in the road when we are trying to learn about someone else, building trust, and learning to accept both similarities and differences.

Managing stress is a vital part of staying healthy and happy. We all will experience stress from time to time; however, it is how we manage stress that can influence how we respond to it, how it impacts and or interferes with functioning, and how we recover from a stressful event. Instead of allowing stress to become debilitating, use it to inspire and motivate you to achieving your goals, facing challenges, and building resiliency.