Stress is a natural part of life. The expressions are familiar to us, "I'm stressed out," "I'm under too much stress," or "Work is one big stress."
Stress is hard to define because it means different things to different people; however, it's clear that most stress is a negative feeling rather than a positive feeling.
Stress can be both physical and mental
You may feel physical stress which is the result of too much to do, not enough sleep, a poor diet or the effects of an illness. Stress can also be mental: when you worry about money, a loved one's illness, retirement, or experience an emotionally devastating event, such as the death of a spouse or being fired from work.
However, much of our stress comes from less dramatic everyday responsibilities. Obligations and pressures which are both physical and mental are not always obvious to us. In response to these daily strains your body automatically increases blood pressure, heart rate, respiration, metabolism, and blood flow to you muscles. This response, is intended to help your body react quickly and effectively to a high-pressure situation.
However, when you are constantly reacting to stressful situations without making adjustments to counter the effects, you will feel stress which can threaten your health and well-being.
It is essential to understand that external events, no matter how you perceive those events which may cause stress. Stress often accompanies the feeling of being out of control.
How do I know if I am suffering from stress?
Remember, each person handles stress differently. Some people actually seek out situations which may appear stressful to others. A major life decision, such as changing careers or buying a house, might be overwhelming for some people, while others may welcome the change. Some find sitting in traffic too much to tolerate, while others take it in stride. The key is determining your personal tolerance levels for stressful situations.
Stress can cause physical, emotional and behavioral disorders which can affect your health, vitality, peace-of-mind, as well as personal and professional relationships. Too much stress can cause relatively minor illnesses like insomnia, backaches, or headaches, and can contribute to potentially life-threatening diseases like high blood pressure and heart disease.
Tips for reducing or controlling stress
As you read the following suggestions, remember that success will not come from a half hearted effort, nor will it come overnight. It will take determination, persistence and time. Some suggestions may help immediately, but if your stress is chronic, it may require more attention and/or lifestyle changes. Determine YOUR tolerance level for stress and try to live within these limits. Learn to accept or change stressful and tense situations whenever possible.
Where to Get Help
Help may be as close as a friend or spouse. But if you think that you or someone you know may be under more stress than just dealing with a passing difficulty, it may be helpful to talk with your doctor, spiritual advisor, or employee assistance professional. They may suggest you visit with a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, or other qualified counselor.
Ideas to consider when talking with a professional:
For additional resources, please call 1-800-969-NMHA.
NMHA's Campaign for America's Mental Health works to raise awareness that mental illnesses are common, real and treatable illnesses and ensure that those most at-risk receive proper, timely and effective treatment.
Call Ten Broeck Hospital at 502-426-6380 or 1-800-866-8876