Stress overload is one of the most prevalent problems today. There are two kinds of stress: good stress, known as eustress, and bad stress or distress. Both can cause people significant difficulty if they exceed people’s individual stress tolerance level. One may ask why good stress could be problematic. The body recognizes both eustress and distress as change, and it is change that causes the problem.
The pace of change is so fast in today’s society, and few of people are untouched by it. Stress can also come from physical and emotional sources. Physical causes can include — but are not limited to — overwork, over exercising, excessive partying, jet lag, toxins (such as air pollution and chemicals encountered at work or home), allergies, sleep deprivation, illness, injury and hormonal disruptions in the premenstrual, postpartum and menopausal phases of women’s lives.
Emotional causes can include a wide variety of experiences such as marital, family or peer relationship difficulties, office politics, financial problems, moving or remodeling, juggling schedules of busy family members, taking care of aging parents or disabled children, losing touch with your inner self, and a host of other problems. Positive emotional events such as falling in love, getting married, having a baby, getting a raise or a new job, and graduating from school all add to the mix. In times of continuing stress, the body has to work harder and longer in its attempt to seek balance, and it will soon manifest a number of symptoms.
The first to appear is usually some sort of sleep disruption. Other symptoms include decreased energy, more aches and pains, especially in the head, neck, shoulders and back, increased sensitivity to pain, and a vague sense of feeling unwell. One may also experience gastrointestinal problems such as an upset or nervous stomach, diarrhea or constipation. Anxiety, agitation and panic attacks are also relatively common. In attempts to cope, people often instinctively resort to counterproductive strategies such as increasing their intake of simple sugars, caffeine, alcohol or tobacco; people may also develop compulsive work or exercise patterns.
All of these actually tend to increase their stress instead. Productive stress management strategies include identifying various sources of stress in one’s life and removing those one can. The first step may be to see one’s family physician to rule out hidden illness that may be masquerading as stress. This can include diabetes, anemia, and thyroid, liver or kidney problems. When one has ruled those out, one may find it helpful to learn to say “no” to excessive work or social demands, and to set boundaries to protect one’s personal time. Postpone or cancel optional activities. Manage allergies and decrease exposure to toxins.
Eat well to control fluctuations in blood sugar. Reduce the pace of change. Then find constructive ways of dealing with the stressors one can’t easily remove. Counseling or psychotherapy can help one identify buried or denied emotional needs that are not being met. It can also facilitate the development of successful coping strategies and different ways of perceiving the situations one faces. Relaxation training, yoga, and meditation can be helpful, as can some of the holistic healing arts such as aromatherapy, reflexology, reiki, massage therapy, energy balancing and emotional acupressure.
No single approach will meet everyone’s needs, or even all of one’s needs in any given situation. They are all part of a healing smorgasbord. The trick is to learn how to nurture oneself with the items on the table that are best for one in one’s unique circumstances. Conclusion The above mentioned stress management strategies are expected to be quite helpful.
Bowers, Wess. (1999). Stress Management. Business Credit, Jul/Aug99, Vol. 101 Issue 7, p18.