2012-08-16 / Community

Just for the "Well" of it

Everyone experiences stress. It’s the body’s natural reaction to tension, pressure and change. A certain amount of stress helps make life more challenging and less boring, however too much stress can be bad for you – both physically and mentally. Prolonged, unrelieved stress can lead to accidental injury, as well as to serious illness. For the sake of your health, safety and happiness it’s important to recognize and manage stress before it gets the better of you.

The signs/symptoms of stress include but are not limited to headaches, upset stomach, anxiety, irritability, diarrhea, lack of energy, loss of hope, poor concentration, overeating or skipping meals, frequent colds or minor ailments, clumsiness, anger, feeling powerless, indigestion, forgetfulness, errors in judgment, sadness or lack of interest, sleep issues, new or increased use of drugs or alcohol. Many of these complaints can be caused by medical conditions, but often they are the body’s reaction to poorly managed stress. Your healthcare provider will be able to determine whether your symptoms are caused by medical condition.

Here are some ways to deal with stress that may have never occurred to you:

• Make peace with imperfection. Perfection is a losing battle. Whether in ourselves or in others, when you focus on perfection you become overly attached to what is wrong with life instead of dwelling on what is right and good.

• Practice patience. The more patient you are, the more accepting you’ll be of situations that can’t be prevented. Being more patient will add a dimension of ease and acceptance to your life.

• Life’s not fair. Never has been and never will be. Once you surrender to this fact, you’ll be encouraged to do the best with what you have and not wallow in self-pity. Everyone is dealt a different hand in life and every one of us has different strengths, challenges, and methods for coping with the unfairness of all of it. We should make the best of every situation, every day by working with what we have.

• Lower your stress tolerance level. Notice the signs early and take action before it builds and gets out of control. When your to-do list seems too long, that’s the signal to slow down, evaluate what’s really important, and re-prioritize. Delegate is not a dirty word!

• Relaxation and quit time. We have a tendency to live our lives as though it is a great big emergency. We seem to think we are not allowed to relax until everything else is done. Don’t save relaxation for vacations or retirement. It’s good for you to relax now and know that relaxed people can still be superachievers. Relaxation and creativity go hand in hand.

• Choose your battles. Life is filled with opportunities to choose between making a big production of something or simply letting it go. Decide consciously which are worth fighting and which are better left alone. If you chose wisely, you’ll be more successful in winning the truly important ones. If your goal is to live a relatively stress free life, you’ll find that most battles result in the exact oppositethey pull you away from your most tranquil feelings.

• Do one thing at a time. Do it well and finish it. Stress accumulates when we have too many irons in the fire. Concentrate and be fully present in everything you do and you’ll be amazed how fast it gets done. Then you can move with ease into the next project…or even some relaxation time.

• Be flexible with changes. Nonflexible people have an enormous amount of inner stress because they don’t feel as though they are in control of the situation, the timetable, their life, whatever…That’s when you ask yourself, “What’s really important?” Is it more important to get your own way or to go with the floe?

• Mind your own business. By this I mean gossip, eavesdropping and talking behind others back does nothing but sap your energy. It takes us away from our own priorities. In most cases, unless you are specifically asked for advice or help, don’t offer it (unless it is a true emergency). By minding your own business you’ll free up lots of time and energy to focus your attention on your own well-being.

Other, more commonly known tactics include thinking positively, stretches and exercise, deep breathing and relaxation techniques. Most importantly, use more than one coping strategy. Try new things until you find what works well for you.

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You can reach Cathy Kaltz, Certified Worksite Wellness Specialist, at (906) 286-0985.

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