Managing The Stress

April 30, 2009

     Now it is Swine Flu on top of the economy, politics, and personal problems.   How do we manage the stress?

     First, become aware of how you manage stress.  Everyone reacts to stress.  For those of you saying, “I’m not stressed”, you are probably the most stressed and are just denying it.  

     People manage stress through food, sex, sleep, or relationships.  Have your eating habits changed significantly?  Are you napping more or waking up in the middle of the night more often?  Having less sex with your partner and watching more porn or not having sex at all?  These are all indicators that you are not managing your stress and worries properly.

     In relationships, sometimes people argue more or become more distant due to the pressures of stress.  They are either taking their anger out on their partner or they are pulling away because they feel like they don’t want to burden the other with their stress or fears.

     Stress has long-term consequences on the body if it goes on for too long.  It has a way of re-calibrating the sympathetic (automatic) nervous system and then people find themselves constantly agitated for little or no reason and their blood pressure is chronically elevated or their heart rate stays up.   There are many related conditions that develop due to chronic stress.

     First, be honest and if you are not handling your stress well, get some help!   Here are some things you can do:

 

     1.  Talk to someone: therapist, clergy, friend, partner.  Have someone to blow the steam off with.  I frequently tell people, “I don’t need you to do anything, I just need to vent”

     2.  Make an appointment with your doctor and see if you are a candidate for short-term medication to alleviate the stress while you make changes in your life

     3.  Implement lifestyle changes that interest you.  Do an informal interest assessment on yourself (what gives me pleasure?) and start making the time to do those things

     4.  Understand the benefit of being very present!!  A lot of stress is about anticipating something bad happening.  Focus on the here-and-now and find pleasure in that if only for a few minutes a day

     5.  Stop watching all the bad news!  Make sure you have humor in your life.

 

     There are many things you can do to decrease stress.  First step is to recognize it and then make stress reduction a priority in your life.