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Stress Management

Stress is a normal psychological and physical reaction to the demands of life. A small amount of stress can be good, motivating you to perform well. But multiple challenges daily, such as running late, meeting deadlines and being in an unhappy environment, can push you beyond your ability to cope.

Our brains come with an alarm system for our protection. When your brain becomes aware of a possible troublesome situation, it signals your body to release a burst of adrenalin that increases your heart rate and raises your blood pressure. This “fight-or-flight” response fuels you to deal with the situation. Once the threat is gone, your body is meant to return to a normal, relaxed state. Unfortunately, the nonstop challenges of modern life make it so that some people’s alarm systems don’t shut off.

Stress management gives you a range of tools to reset your brain’s alarm system. It can help your mind and body to readjust. Without it, your body might always be on high alert, which could lead to serious health problems over time. Don’t wait until stress damages your health, relationships or quality of life. Start practicing stress management techniques today. The fast pace and multiple challenges of modern life make stress management necessary for everyone.

To monitor your stress, you first need to identify what causes it. What makes you feel angry, tense, worried, impatient or irritable? Do you often get headaches, tight muscles or an upset stomach with no medical cause? Some stressors, such as job or family pressures, holidays, and financial concerns, are easy to identify. But daily frustrations and demands, such as repetitious behavior, running out of time or being late to an appointment, also contribute to your stress level.Even essentially positive events, such as moving, getting married or buying a house, can be stressful. Any change to your life can cause stress.

Once you’ve identified your stress causes, think about strategies for dealing with them. Identifying what you can control is a good starting point. For example, if stress keeps you up at night, the solution may be as easy as turning off the TV and computer and letting your mind slow and wind down before bed. Other times, such as when stress is based on high demands at work or a loved one’s illness, you might be able to change only your reaction.

Don’t feel like you have to figure it out on your own. Seek help and support from family and friends, whether you need someone to listen to you, help with child care or a ride to work when your car is in the shop. Many people benefit from practices such as deep breathing, tai chi, yoga, meditation or exploring nature. It’s important to set aside time for yourself. Get a massage, soak in a bubble bath, read, and listen to music, watch a movie— whatever helps you relax. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle will also help you manage your stress. Make a conscious effort to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and get enough sleep. Try spending less time with television, computer and phone and more “ME” time.

Stress won’t disappear from your life and stress management activities need to be ongoing. But by paying attention to what causes your stress and practicing ways to relax, you can reduce some of the bad effects of stress and improve your ability to cope with challenges. Relaxation techniques are an important part of stress management. Because of your busy life, relaxation might be low on your ‘To Do’ list. Everyone needs to relax and recharge to repair the damage stress makes to your mind and body.

Almost everyone can benefit from relaxation techniques, which can help slow your breathing and focus your attention. Common relaxation techniques include meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, tai chi and yoga. More-active ways of achieving relaxation include walking outdoors or participating in sports. It doesn’t matter which relaxation approach you choose. Sometimes one will work one day but a different one will work the next. Try several and select one that works for you in the moment, and practice them regularly.

This article is written by Cynthia Joy Maurice. Cynthia is a Life Design & Holistic Wellness Specialist. For your convenience she provides consultations and services at 4 locations in the Myrtle Beach, SC area; as well as in the comfort of your home or online. To contact Cynthia, please call 843-465-7138 or email her at findyourjoys@thejoys.us