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Health & Safety

Stress Management

Stress is a natural reaction from the body towards particular events around us. Stress often triggers reactions that affect us, not just physically, but emotionally and mentally as well. Extended periods of stress can be mentally draining and detrimental to physical health. In fact, studies have shown that the many of the health-related concerns in today's society are stress-related.

Stressors –The Causes of Stress

Stressors are the events and thoughts that fire off reactions from our body in the form of stress. They can be classified as external events that take place around us, or internal negative thought manifestations. When met with stress, the body reacts through a physical process known as stress response, by first producing adrenaline and releasing it into the bloodstream. The result of this adrenaline rush is basically a sensation that we usually relate to as feeling nervous – faster heart beat, quickened breathing, higher blood pressure, and a more intense level of energy.

In other words, the body performs closer to its peak through stress response, but ironically, it is also because of this very reason that stress is so dangerous over time. With the body exerting itself, often sending it into overdrive, it can be dangerous when such intensity is sustained over an extended period.

Symptoms of stress-related disorders are minor physical ailments like upset stomach, ulcers, insomnia, and headache. Emotionally, stress also builds a pattern of anxiety, depression, and anger. While these conditions do not seem threatening on the surface, they should not be taken lightly. The symptoms are the body's warning signs of larger problems that may be developing. If left unattended, the conditions can grow into full-fledged disorders such as panic attack and panic disorder.

The Psychology of Stress and Relaxation

To look at it simply, stress is basically built up mentally through a period of intense focus on particular events and thoughts. Whenever our mind is focused intently, we are placing ourselves under a certain degree of stress. This explains why emotionally intense people are significantly more susceptible to stress-induced problems. For example, a perfectionist is more likely to be stressed out over his performance on specific tasks as compared to that of an optimist, who will always tend to look on the brighter side of situations.

Relaxation Strategies

Relaxation is the process of reversing stress patterns. What relaxation does to a stressed person is basically decreasing the mental and physical effects of stress response, preventing the body from over-exerting itself.

Some common relaxation strategies include:

  • Breathing techniques – The quick and easy way to slow down the increased breathing rates and control the effect of stress

  • Massage – Straight forward physical relaxation that helps to take the mind off stressful issues temporarily as well.

  • Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) – The scientific practice of controlling the thoughts in our brain, NLP includes techniques to shift focus away from the undesired thoughts as a method of stress relief.

We live in a fast-paced society that has developed a habit of unnecessary demands to achieve results. However, it is important for us to weigh the balance between our physical and mental well-being versus conforming to some of society's unrealistic requirements. Additional information on dealing with stress can be found at Mind Tools, and Psych Central.

If you find that you are developing stress-related symptoms, take a deep breath and use the online resources available to find a solution to your problem. Practical help is readily available for those suffering from stress. 

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