Should You Be Alarmed About Stress?

Do you ever feel like you have a zillion things to do, and not enough time to do them? Whether you are a business owner, supervisor, field technician or anyone in between, too much stress can be destructive and detrimental to yourself, colleagues, your business, and friends and family. 

The dilemma is often that the cause of stress is not always so obvious, and there is often more than one at play. Stress can have a snowball effect, passing from one person to another until there is an environment full of fear. 

The physical toll from stress can include neck and stomach tension, lack of energy, headaches, rashes, back pain, diarrhea, and cold hands and feet. Long-term stress can create ulcers, allergies, high blood pressure, heart attacks, and stroke. Stress impacts us at a psychological level, too. It colors how we think and feel about others in the world and ourselves. Stress attacks our self-esteem and positive feelings of self-worth. It becomes a filter that can distort how we see the world and the messages we send to and receive from others. 

Not often discussed is the fact that there is a positive side to stress as well. Stress can motivate us to face difficult challenges, to find solutions to problems, and push ourselves to achieve our goals. What is important is to find a balance with stress, to use it as a tool to manage life, while not allowing it to take over our lives. 

Stress Can Be Managed by Putting Simple Tools Into Action
How stress is handled determines how much one is impacted by stress, and if long-term problems will result from the strain. People who successfully manage stress often do so much like chimps and many other animals: they run to each other for support. Perhaps we should learn from other creatures how to support one another. Reaching out for support is one of the best ways to deal with anxiety. 

So, what are some other ways to manage stress? 

1. Acknowledge and accept it — Be aware of when you are stressed and take the responsibility to make a change. Some people ignore, minimize or don’t realize that they are stressed, until they get sick or overwhelmed. Don’t try to deny or suppress your stress. It’s important to deal with the situation. People often suppress stress by particular vices or indulgences, such as eating, drinking, smoking, shopping or fighting. 

The first thing to do is to become more aware of stress by monitoring yourself and short-circuiting your personal stress cycle. A good way to do this is to ask yourself, “How do I express my stress?” Become familiar with how you react to stress and find ways to interrupt your cycle. 

For example, someone might first feel worried and confused about an upcoming project. That person might have some queasiness in the stomach, begin to bite their nails, and then experience tension in the neck and shoulder muscles that may turn into a painful headache. This person might try going for a walk or meditate as soon as he or she recognizes the stress symptoms. 

2. Pinpoint the source of the stress — Look at what is going on underneath the fear and tension … ask yourself, “What am I stressed about, and why am I so stressed?” Since stress is basically a low-grade anxiety, it might be helpful to consider if there are any fears involved. Review what emotions you are having about the stress. If you feel anger, then you may have to search beneath the anger, and usually there is some hurt or pain. 

Many people accuse someone or something outside themselves when they get stressed. Who or what do you accuse when you get stressed? Since we have much more control over ourselves then others, it’s important to consider what changes you can make to reduce the tension. 

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