Everyone faces some degree of stress in their lives due to challenges and problems people experience. We can feel inundated and pressurised when demands are made of us which can have severe consequences. Although some degree of stress is good for you as it can motivate you and push you to your potential, too much stress can be detrimental to your health and well-being. Managing stress levels becomes important when it starts to negatively influence your life.
High levels of stress not only have an effect on our physical well being but our psychological health too. When faced with threatening levels of stress, the body defends itself with a fight or flight response which is an automatic instinct found in animals and human beings. Your heart pounds heavily in your chest, muscles tense, breathing becomes quicker and your senses are on high alert. Managing stress can help to alleviate these feelings and prevent these negative affects.
Continued exposure to stress and therefore the fight or flight response can take a huge tax on the human body. Managing stress is essential because prolonged exposure can be responsible for heart disease, obesity, depression, anxiety and a whole host of other problems. It becomes essential to learn to manage stressful situations and deal with long-lasting stress and therefore reduce the impact it has on your daily life and those around you.
In managing stress, it is essential to know how to recognize it. Symptoms and signs vary from person to person as everyone deals with stress differently. Most people experience manifestations of stress as physical symptoms such as lower back pain, skin outbreaks, weight problems and stomach problems such as ulcers. Other people experience primarily psychological symptoms like hypersensitivity and excessive crying or even changes in behaviour and thinking.
In managing stress, one must identify what activities or events are stress-inducing. A major life change is often a large stress factor because the change from the norm puts us into stress mode. A life changing event like going through a divorce, a career change, moving to a new home, a child leaving home or a diagnosis of a serious disease are all drastic changes in one’s life. Imagine more than one of these major events happening to you at once and how much more stress it will cause.
Getting smaller daily stresses and demands under control are also important in managing stress. Since major life events do not occur too often, these smaller stress inducing situations are often the culprits for high stress levels. Situations such as being stuck in traffic, arguments with friends or family, financial worries and deadlines can all have a significant effect on our well-being.
Not all stress derives from external factors like social and career pressures. These are called internal causes of stress and are perhaps the most important in managing stress. A pessimistic attitude, self-criticism, low self esteem, suppressed anger and unrealistic expectations are common causes of internal stress. One’s mindset needs to be kept in check so that these factors do not cause undue stress and worry which can affect a person and those around him.
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