Stress is your body’s response to change. It is very individual. A situation that one person may find stressful may not disturb someone else. For example, one person may become tense when having to get onto an airplane; another person may find being on an airplane a source of relaxation. Something that causes fear in one person such as race car driving may be fun for others. Everyone is so different and not all stress is bad. Watching your child play a close game of basketball may be stressful, but it can also be fun. Life would actually be boring without some stress. The goal is to manage stress in healthy ways, because unhealthy responses to stress may cause health problems in some people.
How does stress affect you? Some common responses to stress include:
aches and pains, headache, backache, neck ache, stomachache, tight muscles, and clenched jaw. A person’s energy level and sleep are affected, and he or she may feel tired without having a reason and may also have difficulty sleeping. One’s feelings are also very affected by stress. Some common feelings are anxiety, anger, depression, helplessness, loss of control, and feeling tense. It is also common for a person under stress to feel easily irritated, impatient and forgetful.
In what ways do you respond to stress? Do any of the following apply to you?
I eat to calm down.
I speak and eat very fast.
I drink alcohol or smoke to calm down.
I rush around but do not get very much done.
I work too much.
I delay doing the things that I need to do.
I don’t sleep enough, or I sleep too much.
I try to do too many things at one time.
If you engage in any of these behaviors it may mean that you are not dealing with your stress as well as you could.
Fight Stress with Healthy Habits
Healthy habits can protect you from the destructive effects of stress. The following are positive habits that can be very helpful to develop:
1. Talk with family and friends. It is always helpful to have friendships. It can be helpful to call or write your family and friends to share your feelings, thoughts, hopes and happy times.
2. Engage in some type of daily physical exercise.