Stress is something we all experience. Stress can be defined as a non-specific response of the body to any demand placed upon it. Another way to look at it is stress is anxiety out of proportion. Usually, the stressors themselves are not a problem, but rather our body’s response to the stressors are. Simply put by Dr Hans Selye “stress is the wear and tear of life.”  The two causes of stress are major stress and smaller everyday things. Major stressors can look like natural disasters, war, accidents, serious illness, death of a family member, loss of a job, divorce, abuse and violence and anything along those lines. Everyday stressors can look like fear or worry about the future, relationship pressures, life transitions, occupational pressures and frustration caused by the inability to meet goals. Could it be safe to say that you and I have experienced at least one of these?

The poor management of stress can be devastating to our quality of life and our relationships. At the same time, stress also weakens the immune system, which can make one more vulnerable to disease. A significant contribution to stress can stem from low self-esteem, resentment, anger and guilt. At the same time, poor stress management can take on different forms such as headaches, jaw problems, chest and stomach pain, palpitations, addictions, neck and lower back pain just to name a few. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please consult with a health professional. By taking care of you, ultimately, you are taking care of others.

So, what can you do to reduce stress? Here are five areas that can help make a difference in your life:

  1. Improve your relationships by developing communication and conflict resolution skills.
  2. Get yourself a good support system and avoid isolation and loneliness, which can be done by seeking support from your spouse, family, friends and community.
  3. Practice self-care by scheduling in activities that you enjoy. Breaking away from your usual routine can make a big difference. For self-care ideas click here
  4. Cognitive restructuring, which is where thought patterns and irrational thoughts are examined and changed. Followed by setting boundaries and practising assertiveness. I covered assertiveness in episode 5 if you would like to learn more or refresh your memory.
  5. Physical exercise, nutrition and good sleep are also essential in helping to reduce stress. By moving your body, it will increase the oxygen to your brain. Medical research is proving that what people eat has a powerful effect on one’s mental and physical wellbeing and as the saying goes, we are what we eat. Waking up fresh in the morning is essential to stress reduction and good health.

Are there any areas in your life that need your attention? Have you already made some changes to reduce stress and now you are reaping the rewards? Either way we are all a work in progress and small changes can make a difference!