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Coping with stressful situations

We generally use the word “stress” when we feel that everything seems to have become too much - we are overloaded and wonder whether we really can cope with the pressures placed upon us. Anything that poses a challenge or a threat to our well-being is a stress.

Almost anything can cause stress

All stress isn’t bad. Some stresses get you going and they are good for you that can initiate change, help us focus on the task at hand, and in some cases even save our lives. Without any stress at all many say our lives would be boring and would probably feel pointless.

However, when the stresses undermine both our mental and physical health they are bad and cause us to spin our wheels, keep us from concentrating, and cause bodily injury and even loss of life. So we should be very aware of this stress and its consequences.

What are the causes of stress?

We all react differently to stressful situations. What one person finds stressful another may not at all. Almost anything can cause stress and it has different triggers. For some people, on some occasions, just thinking about something, or several small things that accumulate, can cause stress.

The most common causes of stress are:

* Bereavement
* Family problems
* Financial matters
* Illness
* Job issues
* Lack of time
* Moving home
* Relationships
(including divorce)

The following are also causes of stress

* Abortion
* Becoming a mother or a father
* Conflicts in the workplace
* Driving in bad traffic
* Fear of crime
* Losing your job
* Miscarriage
* Noisy neighbours
* Overcrowding
* Pollution
* Pregnancy
* Retirement
* Too much noise
* Uncertainty (awaiting laboratory test results, academic exam results, job interview results, etc).

It is possible that a person feels stressed and no clear cause is identified. A feeling of frustration, anxiety and depression can make some people feel stressed more easily than others.

The first tip in managing stress is to recognize your stressors.

The next step is to put each of them in their place. The following stress management tips, based on some old and some new adages, can help you do just that.

How to deal with stress

There are three broad methods you can follow to treat stress, they include self-help, self management, and medication.

Self help for treating stress:

Exercise: - exercise has been proven to have a beneficial effect on a person’s mental and physical state. For many people exercise is an extremely effective stress buster.

Division of labour: - try to delegate your responsibilities at work, or share them. If you make yourself indispensable the likelihood of your feeling highly stressed is significantly greater.

Assertiveness: - don’t say yes to everything. If you can’t do something well, or if something is not your responsibility, try to seek ways of not agreeing to do them.

Alcohol and drugs: - alcohol and drugs will not help you manage your stress better. Either stop consuming them completely, or cut down.

Caffeine: - if your consumption of coffee and other drinks which contain caffeine is high, cut down.

Nutrition: - eat plenty of fruit and vegetables. Make sure you have a healthy and balanced diet.

Time: - make sure you set aside some time each day just for yourself. Use that time to organize your life, relax, and pursue your own interests.

Breathing: - there are some effective breathing techniques which will slow down your system and help you relax.

Talk: - talk to you family, friends, work colleagues and your boss. Express your thoughts and worries.

Seek professional help: - if the stress is affecting the way you function; go and see your doctor. Heightened stress for prolonged periods can be bad for your physical and mental health.

Relaxation techniques: - meditation, massage, or yoga has been known to greatly help people with stress.

When you need help, get help: - Even Atlas couldn’t bear the weight of the world on his shoulders forever. Whether you need help from kids or spouse in hauling groceries into the house, help from a colleague to solve a work-related problem, or professional help to find the causes of and effectively manage your stress, getting the help you need is in itself a major stress management tip.

Dare to say no: - One more little thing may be the “straw that breaks the camel’s back”. It’s okay to say “No”, “I can’t”, or “Later”.

Acquit yourself: - Sometimes events really are out of control and you really are “Not Guilty”. Quit blaming yourself.

Be pro-active in finding peace:- Those who unsuccessfully use the crutches of drugs and/or alcohol to alleviate stress often find themselves in a twelve-step program like A.A. where one of the mainstays is the Serenity Prayer.

Other tips

* Get a good night’s rest.
* Eat healthily.
* Listen to your favourite music.
* Exercise, participate in a sport or engage in fun activity.
* Plan your time and prioritize.
* Talk to a friend about your problems, don’t hold it in.
* Get a massage.
* Take a nap.
* Take a warm bath.
* Read a book or watch TV.
* Go for a walk.
* Spend time in nature.
* Call a good friend.
* Sweat out tension with a good workout.
* Write in your journal.
* Watch a comedy.
* Take a long bath.
* Light scented candles.
* Savour a warm cup of coffee or tea.
* Play with a pet.
* Work in your garden.
* Get a massage.
* Curl up with a good book.
* Listen to music.



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