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Stress Management

Are you stressed? Who isn't? From time to time, we're bound to feel stress from work, family, finances, social situations, or illness.

What is Stress?
Stress is your body's response to change. Stress can be physical, chemical, or emotional. Physical and chemical causes of stress can include trauma, infections, toxins, illnesses and injuries. Emotional causes of stress can include worrying about money, a loved one's illness, retirement, or experiencing an emotionally devastating event, such as the death of a spouse, or being fired from your job.

Signs and Symptoms
Stress can be affecting you without you being aware of it. Many of the physical signs and symptoms of stress are also signs and symptoms of illness. That is why it is important to discuss any of these symptoms with your doctor. A few of the many physical signs of stress include:

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Stomachache or diarrhea
  • Tension or migraine headaches
  • Greater susceptibility to colds and other infections
  • Fatigue
  • High blood pressure
  • Back, shoulder or neck pain
  • Skin problems (hives, eczema, psoriasis)

As with physical symptoms, emotional symptoms can be caused by conditions other than stress as well, and it is important to find out if they are stress related or not.
Some of the emotional signs and symptoms of stress include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Feeling out of control
  • Irritability

Managing Stress
Stress is often associated with situations that you find difficult to handle. Outside events can be frustrating and upsetting, but it is important to remember that how you view things and how you react to them inside is key. You can't control all the events in your life, but you can control how you handle them emotionally and psychologically.

Stress Management is the ability to maintain control when situations, people, and events make excessive demands on you. There are some things you can do to manage stress or try to reduce the stress in your life. For example: Get regular exercise, and eat a diet rich in a variety of whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.

  • Avoid excessive alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco. 
  • Learn to say no. Don't promise too much. 
  • Identify sources of stress and try to minimize your exposure to them or avoid them altogether. 
  • Change how you respond to difficult situations. Be positive, not negative. 
  • Humor is a very effective mechanism for coping with stress. Try to keep a sense of humor when dealing with difficult situations.
  • Strengthen or establish a support network.

If you think that you would benefit from help, either in identifying the things that are causing your stress, or in learning techniques to help you relax, talk to your physician or other healthcare practitioner. The process of learning to control stress is life-long, and will not only contribute to better health, but a greater ability to succeed in life.

Stress Management is an EHE International publication and is reprinted and distributed with its expressed written permission. EHE International, 10 Rockefeller Plaza, 4th Floor, New York, New York 10020; 212.332.3738