Facing Up to Stress

How much do you know about stress? Surveys and research reveal that 

  • in an estimated 75-90 percent of all visits to primary care physicians are for stress-related complaints or disorders; 
  • more than 40 percent of all adults suffer from stress-related adverse health effects; 

Stress has been linked to all the leading causes of premature mortality, including heart disease, cancer, respiratory ailments, accidents, cirrhosis, and suicide. But stress is a normal part of life. Many events, some happy and joyous–a new job, relocation, marriage, or the birth of a child-can be stressful, Stress is also more typically associated with somber events, such as divorce or a death in the family. Even holidays or buying a new car can cause stress. 

Everyone responds differently to stress-inducing events in their lives. What one person ignores or finds challenging may cause stress in another. So, do you suffer from stress?

Symptoms Some of the most common signs and symptoms of stress are 

  • constant fatigue; 
  • in muscle tightness or tension; 
  • anxiety
  • indigestion
  •  insomnia; 
  • loss or increase in appetite
  • grinding of teeth or jaws;
  •  general complaints such as weakness, dizziness, headache stomachache, or back pain

Many of these symptoms may be caused by other health problems, such as the flu, but if you have one or more of these symptoms that last longer than a week, talk to your physician. You may be suffering from stress. 

So, you’re under stress. How can you learn to reduce stress or control its negative consequences? Here are a few simple tips that can help reduce or control stress.

  • Identify the causes of stress in your life. 
  •  Share your thoughts and feelings with someone else. 
  • Avoid sad thoughts; try not to get depressed.
  • Simplify your life as much as possible. 
  •  Learn to manage your time effectively. 
  • Understand that drugs and alcohol cannot solve life’s problems. 
  • Exercise regularly 
  • Practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing. 
  • Develop your sense of humor, and make time for fun. 
  •  If necessary, seek professional help. 

Many sources of help are out there. Often, just talking to a friend can help, but if that doesn’t work, talk to your minister, priest, rabbi, or other spiritual counselor, or a licensed therapist. In addition, many companies provide access to an employee assistance program (EAP), which can provide a wealth of confidential professional counseling resources to help you, your family, or your fellow employees through difficult or stressful periods in life. 

  • Finally, remember: it’s your life. Successfully managing stress leads to a healthier, happier, and more productive life. 

For more information, go to Mayo Clinic’s recommendations on coping with stress: www. mayoclinic.com/health/coping-with-stress/SROO030, or CDC’s website: www.cdc.gov/ violenceprevention/pub/coping with_stress_tips.html, 

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