Understanding and Managing Stress

Stress is destructive to health and relationships. Stress is experienced when a person feels demands and expectations that exceed perceived available resources. Resources may relate to time, money, skill, tools, etc. The perception of the imbalance between the demands and resources and potential future adverse consequences for failing to meet the demand or expectation does not have to be correct in order for the situation to cause stress. That is, false understandings or beliefs can cause significant stress. Therefore any event or thought that causes a person to perceive a threatening demand is a potential source of stress.
It is true that on this planet there are situations that need to be reacted to and in the absence of stress, our species would never have survived. Accordingly, a positive aspect of stress is that it alerts you to a threat and provides you with increased levels of energy and motivation to help in coping with the threat. However mishandled stress or too much stress causes strain and can be devastating for you.
The negative effects of stress are numerous and perhaps we don’t even know them all. However, they include fatigue, irritability, anger, difficulty concentrating, a lower immune system, a variety of serious physical health problems, insomnia, depression, anxiety, loss of personal relationships, over eating and drug and alcohol abuse.
There is no one way to deal with stress. Stress may be reduced, eliminated or managed by addressing one or more of the underlying components of stress. For example you might reduce demands by planning ahead, increasing available resources, just saying “no”, finding ways to increase efficiency. Or, you might reduce the stress emotions by taking a break from the stressful situation, relaxing, exercising, getting a massage, taking a vacation. Or, you might eliminate or mitigate the impact of the consequences of failing to meet the demand by preparing for the consequences (e.g. having a savings account or buying insurance), changing your priorities (so what if the car doesn’t get washed?), accepting what can’t be changed, putting energy towards improving the situation.
You need to have the correct perspective concerning the demands you face. You need to be aware of your capabilities, resources, and the real consequences of failing to meet a demand. You need to see things accurately without distortions. Believing something is terrible when it is only just unpleasant can cause unnecessary stress.
There is scientific evidence that suggests that the experience of stress in the past magnifies how you react to stress in the future because stress actually alters your body and your brain. You can become sensitive to stress and then even the smallest stressor can invoke reactions in your brain and body that cause your brain to treat a small incident as a life threatening event. Because some stress is requisite for humans, your body is designed to provide an appropriate reaction to stress depending on the degree of the threat. However, when you become sensitive to stress due to earlier stress experiences, your body’s response that is designed for life threatening events is activated by ordinary trials and tribulations of life such that you respond inappropriately (in other words, overreact). This sensitivity to stress may begin during childhood. It is likely that the impact is greater when it is initiated during childhood.
It is of extreme importance that you become aware of your body so that you can sense when it is getting stressed and either reduce the stressors (i.e. demands perceived to exceed resources and perceived negative consequences) or take time for meditation, yoga, exercise, gardening, reading, writing, listening to music, going for a walk. Also, the knowledge about being sensitive to stress due to past stress experiences (i.e. the life-death reaction to inconsequential matters) is helpful, if it applies to you, because you can use logic and rational thoughts to understand why you’re reacting as you are and to correct this behaviour if you feel yourself overreacting to stressors.
You are vulnerable to stress and will experience stress; but you do not have to be its victim. You have the ability to control stress and what you permit it to do to you.

Learn How To Manage Your Own Stress

As we’ve said before, stress is a part of life.  There’s no getting away from it.  In fact, some stress is good stress.  You may not believe that, but sometimes stress can motivate us to do things we may not normally do in a relaxed state.  Stress can make us brave enough to go forward when normally we might hesitate.We have to be resilient in order to effectively cope with stress and help it enhance our life instead of control it.  How do you get strong and resilient?  By learning how to take control of your stress and make it work FOR you instead of AGAINST you.Recognizing stress symptoms can be a positive influence in that we’re compelled to take action – and the sooner the better. It’s not always easy to discern why you have the stress in each situation but some of the more common events that trigger those emotions are the death of a loved one, the birth of a child, a job promotion, or a new relationship.  We experience stress as we readjust our lives. Your body is asking for your help when you feel these stress symptoms.We’re going to give you many suggestions in this chapter.  Not all of them will work for you, but we’re willing to bet that some of them will.There are three major approaches to manage stress. The first is the action-oriented approach. In this method, the problems that cause stress are identified and necessary changes are made for a stress free life. The next approach is emotionally oriented and in it, the person overcomes stress by giving a different color to the experience that caused stress. The situation, which causes stress, is seen humorously or from a different angle. I especially advocate this approach to stress management.  Sometimes if you don’t laugh at a situation, you’ll cry – uncontrollably.  That’s no solution.  So learn to see the humor instead of the doom.The third way is acceptance-oriented approach. This approach focuses on surviving the stress caused due to some problem in the past.The first stress management tip is to understand the root cause of your stress. No one understands your problem better than you do. A few minutes spend to recognize your true feelings can completely change the situation. During this process, identify what triggered the stress. If someone close to your heart is nearby share it with the person. If you are overstressed and feel you are going to collapse, take a deep breath and count till ten. This pumps extra oxygen into your system and rejuvenates the entire body.When under severe stress meditate for a moment and pull out of the current situation for a little while. Stand up from your current position and walk. Stretch yourself. Soon you will find that the stress has lessened. This is because you have relaxed now and relaxation is the best medicine for stress. Smiling is yet another way of stress management. If you are at the work place, just stand up and smile at your colleague in the far corner. You will see a change in your mood. Learn some simple yoga or mediation techniques.You can also invent your own stress management tips. The basic idea is to identify the cause of stress and to pull out from it for a moment and then deal with it. Taking a short walk and looking at objects in nature is another stress reliever. Drinking a glass of water or playing small games are simple stress management techniques. The whole idea is change the focus of attention and when you return to the problem, it does not look as monstrous as you felt before.

Managing Stress – A life Changing Journey




What is stress?

 Stress is our body’s way of reacting emotionally and physically to any kind of external pressures or demands. Although this kind of response may be beneficial at times, like when it provides the needed strength and energy in times of danger, too much stress or a prolonged state of stress is harmful to our body.

 What causes stress?

 Stress is caused by a variety of factors for different people. For most people and for most of the time, it is usually caused by unexpected and unpleasant changes which we are not physically and emotionally prepared to handle.

 Some of the factors that have been found to contribute greatly to stress include the following:


Overwork – Working too hard with little time for rest and relaxation has been a constant source of stress for many people.

Home stressors – This is particularly true for those who live with an extended family or relatives. Another classic example of a home stressor is when a stay-at-home mother chooses to do everything for the family thereby tiring herself out everyday and lacking the time for a much needed rest.

Survival Stress – This is the body’s natural reaction when faced with physical danger. Our body responds with a burst of strength and energy which enable us to either “fight” or “flee” from the situation. We can therefore consider this as an acceptable kind of stress.

Internal Stress – This one is caused by none other than our own selves. When we think negatively and worry too much about things we can’t control and put ourselves in situations which may cause too much pressure or demands in our emotional state, we become stressed.

Environmental factors – These are the things around us that disrupt our normal lives and can put a strain on our emotional well-being. Some of these factors may include irritating people, noise, crowded areas, and emergency situations.


Who gets stressed?

 Stress is a classic feature of human life and has become part of almost everyone else’s system. I’m pretty sure that we have all experienced stress at one time or another, whether working on a highly demanding task, trying to get along with difficult people whom we have to spend most of out time with either at home or at work, or taking care of our family and having to work at the same time.

 People of any gender and from all age groups can suffer from stress and anxiety when exposed to any of the different stressors mentioned above.


How does stress affect us?


Stress has been known to cause negative changes to our physical, physiological, and psychological well-being, either directly or indirectly, leading to health problems, low work productivity, poor judgment, and broken relationships among many other things. Some studies even suggest that stress can literally kill us in the long run, as it contributes to the risk of having a heart attack or other fatal diseases.

 Some of the changes that can happen to us when we are stressed may include the following:


Physical changes – headaches, weight loss, abnormal fatigue levels, difficulty sleeping, body aches, increased susceptibility to colds and infections

Psychological / emotional changes – short temper, depression, lack of confidence, poor concentration, helplessness, anxiety attacks, loss of direction, inability to relax, crying spells

Behavioral – turning to drugs or alcohol, becoming destructive, forgetfulness, inability to commit to something or to make decisions

Relationships – intolerance of certain people, not wanting to socialize, decreased sex drive, nagging, resentment, problems with spouse and/or children


How to reduce stress


One of the most important things to remember when handling stress is that everything has to start within us. We can never control what happens in our lives but we can always choose how to face the stressful situations. Here are some ideas that may help prevent or reduce stress.

       Think positively. Negative thoughts have never solved any problem!

Accept changes as part of life and learn to deal with them.

Do something enjoyable at least once a day. This may take as little as 5 minutes of your time!

Strengthen family ties and develop healthy relationships with friends and co-workers.

Eat well and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Join weekly yoga or dance classes, attend group exercises, or indulge in recreational activities that interest you. Having a healthy body is one sure way of protecting oneself against stressful situations.

Be aware of the different factors that cause stress in your life and make every possible way to avoid them.  

Develop skills in money and time management.

Reach out to other people and try to help others in your own little ways. The feeling of fulfillment that comes from being able to help people can boost your self-confidence and strengthen relationships.

Strengthen spiritual resources and develop a strong faith.


These are only among the tried and tested ways to reduce the stress in our lives. Some may be effective for other people while some of these may not cause any positive change at all. What is therefore important is for us to know ourselves better and to figure out which solution can help us overcome the different challenges that life throws at us each and every day. Remember, managing stress is not a one-time deal but rather a life-long journey to a happy and healthy life!