Stress to Success
PWR TIP: Do you often feel irritable? Do you have trouble sleeping? Are you easily forgetting things? Are you becoming unfocused at work? Have you lost your appetite, or can’t stop eating? Do you sometimes feel like you are about to implode? If your answer is “Yes” to any of these questions, it may be time for you to de-compress. We are clearly more out of balance than our grandparents. We work longer, sleep less, and are overloaded by information and technology. Some stress can actually be beneficial. It can motivate you to finish a pending task, or prompt you to move faster along a dark street. However, the danger with contemporary stress is that it tends to be emotional rather than physical in origin, and is thus more persistent. Chronic stress can lead to insomnia, hypertension, severe acne, backaches, headaches, gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, infertility, strokes, heart attack and depression. Managing stress is the key to a balanced and successful life.
Understand the nature of stress – Stress is any change you must adapt to. It can be good (like an upcoming wedding) or bad (like a death in the family). Once you perceive a threat, the body kicks in the fight-flight-freeze response. As long as the mind perceives the threat, the body remains in this state of alert.
Identify your key stressors – What hits your buttons the most? Does your current work situation make you irritable? Is your relationship grating on you? Are tight deadlines causing anxiety?
Understand your specific warning signs – Does stress go to your head and create headaches? Does it go to your stomach? Do you begin to eat significantly more or less? Do you get cranky? Observe yourself so you can understand how stress affects you.
Determine your most accessible coping strategies - When you identify stress, what will you do? Plan ahead. You may exercise, talk, pray, play, plan, scream… you get the picture! Outline your coping strategies in advance.
Practice relaxation every day – Relaxation is a learned response. It is something you can actively practice. Time time every day to be still. Learn one technique at a time. Start with deep breathing. Learn visualization. Begin to meditate. “Tone” your nervous system so that you can relax quicker over time.
Contributed by Teresa Kay-Aba Kennedy, Ph.D., MBA. Part of the Power Living® Empowerment Series. De-stress with the Power Living Mini-Escapes guided relaxation CD.
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