A Little Stress Is Normal

A Little Stress Is Normal

Stress can be good when it helps you rise to challenges.

• It can help you face threats and act quickly in an emergency.

• Stress can also sharpen your abilities and help you perform better.

But Too Much Stress Can Harm You

Here are some problems that stress can worsen or even cause:

• Tiredness or exhaustion.

• Poor concentration or memory.

• Difficulty making decisions.

• Headache, sweating, nervousness.

• Frequent colds.

• Eating or sleeping problems.

• Abdominal cramps or nausea.

• Mood swings irritability, impatience, short temper and anger.

• Anxiety, worry, fear and depression.

• High blood pressure, chest pains, heart disease, heart attack, stroke.

It is normal to feel overly stressed sometimes. No one lives a stress-free life. The challenge is to manage stress so it doesn’t dominate your life.

What Causes Stress?

Both little things and big things count.

Normal, everyday problems: commuting delays, computer problems, misplacing things, other people’s bad moods.

Specific situations: public speaking, a job interview, a blind date, works deadlines, etc.

Significant life events: marriage, divorce, a new baby, a new job, moving, a serious illness, the death of someone close.

Other problems: family problems, relationship problems; financial worries, trouble on the job.

People respond differently to stress.

• A situation that makes YOU anxious may not bother someone else at all. Some people thrive on deadlines, for example. Others are paralyzed by them.

• Something that worries you a lot at first may be much less stressful

1. Get plenty of sleep.

• Have a regular sleep schedule. When you’re rested you have more energy to deal with stressful events.

• If caffeine keeps you awake at night, cut down on coffee, soda and other caffeine-containing drinks.

• Nicotine can also keep you awake. For free help to quit smoking, call 311.

2. Be physically active.

• Regular exercise is powerful. It improves mood, relieves stress and makes you healthier. It can even help prevent depression.

• Get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity (such as a brisk walk) at least 5 days a week.

3. Breathe!

• When people get anxious, they sometimes hold their breath, or breathe fast and shallow.

• Practice deep breathing. Relax your belly and breathe deeply into your abdomen. Inhale and exhale s-l-o-w-l-y.

• Yoga, meditation and other relaxation techniques also relieve stress.

4. Talk about it.

• Talk with a trusted friend, family member, or religious advisor.

• Talking puts problems in perspective. Worries decrease, and solutions emerge.

• Spend more time with people who support you, and less time with people who don’t.

5. Write about it.

• Keep a “stress journal” for a week to help you identify your triggers.

• Describe what makes you tense. What happened? How did you feel?

• Look at the events that were most stressful. Pick ONE thing to work on.

6. Treat yourself well.

• When you’re overwhelmed, everything feels more difficult. It’s harder to be good to yourself. But now is the time to try.

• Eat as well as you can. Get to bed on time. Keep your medical appointments.

Take your daily medicine.

• Can’t do it ALL today? Nobody’s perfect. Try again tomorrow.

7. Make time for yourself.

• Do something you enjoy every day.

• Get somebody to watch the kids for a while. Go to the movies or take a walk in the park.

• Take short breaks at work. Take a long weekend. Take a real vacation for once.

8. Keep it simple.

• Set realistic expectations and goals. Take small, not big, steps.

(Reorganize a drawer, not the whole house.)

• Try to change the way you see things:

• Don’t mistake temporary problems (“I’m tired today”) for permanent ones (“I’m too old to change”).

• Don’t mistake specific problems (“I have a bad habit”) for general ones (“I’m a bad person”).

9. Laugh it off.

• Laughter has stress-relieving benefits – and it’s FREE.

• Humour helps us see problems as “challenges “instead of “threats.” It connects us with others, and it’s contagious.

• Get more laughter in your life:

• Rent a hilarious movie.

• Play with your pet.

• Get really silly with the kids.


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