Dealing with Stress has become part of our daily chores.
When people reach out for help, they are often dealing with circumstances, situations, and stressors in their lives that leave them feeling emotionally and physically overwhelmed. Many people feel that they have very little resources or skills to deal with the high levels of stress they are experiencing.
What are the causes of stress in our lives? Many famous thinkers would argue that we cause our own stress—all of it! That’s not to say that we cause the decline of our industries and the resulting downsizing in our companies, or the ills of friends and loved ones, or the fact that the school bus arrived 10 minutes early today.
Stress can come from any situation or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, or anxious. Everyone sees situations differently and has different coping skills. For this reason, no two people will respond exactly the same way to a given situation. Additionally, not all situations that are labeled “stressful” are negative. The birth of a child, being promoted at work, or moving to a new home may not be perceived as threatening. However, we may feel that situations are “stressful” because we don’t feel fully prepared to deal with them.
We are not the cause of all the challenges in our lives, but we are responsible for the way we react to them.
To put it simply, our lack of preparation for life’s challenges leads to an inability to cope with those situations.
Boom – Stress!
Signs and Symptoms of Stress Overload
It is important to learn how to recognize when your stress levels are “out of control” or having an adverse effect. The signs and symptoms of stress overload can be almost anything. Stress affects the mind, body, and behavior in many ways, and everyone experiences stress differently.
Three common ways that people respond when they are overwhelmed by stress are:
- An angry or agitated stress response. You may feel heated, keyed-up, overly emotional, and unable to sit still.
- A withdrawn or depressed stress response. You shut down, space out, and show very little energy or emotion.
- Both a tens and frozen stress response. You “freeze” under pressure and feel like you can’t do anything. You look paralyzed, but under the surface you may feel extremely agitated.
The following lists some of the common warning signs and symptoms of stress. The more signs and symptoms you notice in yourself, the closer you might be to feeling stress overload.
- Memory problems
- Inability or difficulty concentrating
- Poor judgment
- Seeing only the negative
- Anxious, racing, or ruminating thoughts
- Constant worrying
- Irritability or short-tempered
- Agitation, inability to relax Stress & Stress Management
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Sense of loneliness or isolation
- Depression or general unhappiness
- Aches and pains, muscle tension
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Nausea, dizziness, or butterflies in the stomach
- Chest pain or rapid heartbeat
- Loss of sex drive
- Frequent colds
- Shallow breathing and sweating
- Eating more or less
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Isolating yourself from others
- Procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities
- Using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax
- Nervous habits (nail biting, pacing)
How to cope with Stress?
Meditation that cultivates mindfulness can be particularly effective at reducing stress, anxiety, depression, and other negative emotions. Mindfulness is the quality of being fully engaged in the present moment, without over-thinking or analyzing the experience. Rather than worrying about the future or dwelling on the past, mindfulness meditation switches the focus on what is happening right now.
Ten Simple Ways You Can Practice Mindfulness Each Day:
- As you awaken in the morning, bring your attention to your breathing. Instead of letting your mind spin off into yesterday or today, take mindful breaths. Focus on your breathing, and sense the effects of breathing throughout your body.
- Instead of hurrying to your usual routine, slow down and enjoy something special about the morning; a flower that bloomed, the sound of the birds, the wind in the trees.
- On the way to work or school, pay attention to how you walk, drive or ride the transit. Take some deep breaths, relaxing throughout your body.
- When stopped at a red light, pay attention to your breathing and enjoy the landscape around you.
- When you arrive at your destination, take a few moments to orient yourself. Breathe consciously and calmly, relax your body, then begin.
- When sitting at your desk or keyboard, become aware of the subtle signs of the physical tension and take a break or walk around.
- Use the repetitive events of the day (the ringing telephone, a knock at the door, walking down the hall) as cues for a mini-relaxation.
- Walk mindfully to your car or bus. Can you see and appreciate something new in the environment? Can you enjoy walking without rushing?
- As you return home, consciously make the transition into your home environment. If possible, after greeting your family or housemates, give yourself a few minutes alone to ease the transition.
- As you go to sleep, let go of today and tomorrow. Take some slow, mindful deep breaths.
We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is, play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.
Life is 10% of what happens to us and 90% of how we react to it.
We are in charge of our Attitudes.