Clinician's Corner Words of wisdom with practical solutions that you can digest in 3 minutes or less.
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Stress Management (Part 1)
Stress is an unavoidable consequence of living. Know that stress is a normal and innate reaction to the things happening around us. There is no way that we can live a life without any stress at all, nor would we want to! An optimal amount of stress is needed to motivate us to accomplish tasks needed to engage in successful living. On the other hand, too much stress can create a situation where we feel overwhelmed and paralyzed by all the demands of our lives. Here’s a good time for some definitions. A widely accepted definition of stress is any demand (i.e., stressor)that requires a response from us. The demand or stressor could be physical, emotional, or social. Stressors can be positive, negative, and/or neutral, depending on our thoughts and feelings around them.The reaction that we engage in to address a specific demand is called coping (i.e., dealing with the demand). Coping involves examining the available resources we have to respond to a specific demand and the subsequent actions we take based on whether the resources we have are sufficient or lacking.
The demand for time, money, energy, and effort can seem overwhelming because we only have access to a finite pool of these resources. Practical Strategy: When demands in our lives build, at times we may not even be aware that we are experiencing stress reactions. In the middle of each day, take a minute to assess your stress level and note if you are having any physical (aches and pains), social (withdrawing from others), emotional (mood swings, irritability, anger), or cognitive (difficulty with attention and concentration) symptoms.
Stress management is a broad and at times vague skill. Like every other skill, there is a learning phase, a practice phase, and eventually a mastery phase. However, due to the nature of stress in our lives, it can sometimes feel like we are continually in the learning phase. It is true that new stressors are constantly emerging, and, depending on where we live and what our responsibilities are, stressors of time and energy resources can feel like they are in constant demand (i.e., they are chronic/ongoing). However, knowledge and awareness of how stress is impacting us will help us develop solutions needed to address the demands we are facing.