It’s that time of the year again! How well do you manage your stress?

Studies have shown that stress has a negative impact on our health. What is stress? Stress is an emotional response to a thought or situation. Some recognize stress as the opposite of relaxation. There are positive “stressors” such as a wedding, graduation or a promotion, and there are negative stressors such as illness, an injury, divorce, work difficulties and financial problems. How we individually deal with stress varies from individual to individual.

What have the studies shown?

Stress raises our adrenaline, which increases our heart rate and blood pressure. Stress makes our heart work harder. In the long run, effectively managing stress is necessary to reduce our risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke.

As stated above, stress is created by our reaction to or perception of a situation, rather than the events themselves. Simply put, our feelings are created by our thoughts. Putting our ups and downs into proper perspective is the key to coping with stress. How we think can have a profound effect on our physical and emotional well-being.

We all experience cognitive distortions – such as “catastrophizing” (expecting only the worst to happen), “emotional reasoning” (believing, for example, that if we feel studpid, then we must be stupid) or “mind reading” (assuming that what we image other people are thinking is what they actually think) – that give credibility to negative thoughts.

Everyone deals with stress differently. We each have our own set of coping mechanisms. Some coping mechanisms are constructive and others are dysfunctional; embroiled in confusion, fear and dread. We all need to develop constructive ways of handling our stress.

Destructive ways of dealing with stress including smoking, drinking alcohol, overeating, zoning out in front of the television, withdrawing from friends and family, and taking your stress out on someone else.


Dealing with Stressful Situations: The Four A’s
1. Avoiding the stressor. Lean to say “No” and avoid people who stress you out. Take control of your environment – for example, turn off the T.V.
2. Alter the stressor. Express your feelings to those who you trust. Learn to compromise. Be more assertive and manage your time better
3. Adapting to the stressor: Reframe problems. Look at the big picture. Focus on the positive. Avoid self-defeating thoughts such as “never,” “always,” “must,” and “should.”
4. Accepting the stressor. Don’t try to control the things you can’t. Learn to forgive. Look a challenges as an opportunity for personal growth.

Avoid muddling in your negative thoughts and implement healthy ways to relax and recharge: For instance, go for a walk, spend time in nature, call a good friend, exercise and break a sweat, get a massage, take a long bath, work in your garden, listen to music or write in your journal.


We all live with stress and no one is immune to the effects of stress. How we manage our stress with dictate our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual selves. Practice healthy ways to relax and calm so the next time a stressful situation catches us by surprise, we can implement these tools.

In short, exercise, eat healthy, get enough sleep, and avoid too much alcohol, sugar and caffeine.


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