Stress managementBy Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stress-management/MY00435
Stress is a normal psychological and physical reaction to the ever increasing demands of life. Surveys show that most Americans experience challenges with stress at some point during the year. In looking at the causes of stress, remember that your brain comes hard-wired with an alarm system for your protection. When your brain perceives a threat, it signals your body to release a burst of hormones to fuel your capacity for a response. This has been labeled the "fight-or-flight" response. Once the threat is gone, your body is meant to return to a normal relaxed state. Unfortunately, the nonstop stress of modern life means that your alarm system rarely shuts off.
That's why stress management is so important. Stress management gives you a range of tools to reset your alarm system. Without stress management, all too often your body is always on high alert. Over time, high levels of stress lead to serious health problems. Don't wait until stress has a negative impact on your health, relationships or quality of life. Start practicing a range of stress management techniques today.
Do you know anyone who isn't at times stressed out these days? The pace of modern life makes stress management a necessary skill for everyone. Many people juggle multiple responsibilities, work, home life, caregiving and relationships. Learning to identify problems and implement solutions is the key to successful stress reduction.
The first step in successful stress relief is deciding to make a change in how you manage stress. The next step is identifying your stress triggers. Some causes of stress are obvious — job pressures, relationship problems or financial difficulties. But daily hassles and demands, such as commuting, arranging day care or being overcommitted at work, can also contribute to your stress level. Positive events also can be stressful. If you got married, started a new job and bought a new house in the same year, you could have a high stress level. While negative events in general are more stressful, be sure to also assess positive changes in your life.
Once you've identified your stress triggers, you can start thinking about strategies for dealing with them. Sometimes the solution may be as easy as turning off the TV when the evening news is too distressing. Or, when you can't avoid a stressful situation, try brainstorming ways to reduce the irritation factor. And don't feel like you have to figure it out all on your own. Seek help and support from family and friends. You may want to ask them what stress-relief techniques have worked well for them. And many people benefit from daily practice of stress reduction techniques, such as mindfulness, tai chi, yoga, meditation or being in nature.
Stress won't disappear from your life. And stress management isn't an overnight cure. But with practice, you can learn to manage your stress level and increase your ability to cope with life's challenges.
Relaxation techniques are an essential part of stress management. If you're an overachiever, you may put relaxation low on your priority list. Don't shortchange yourself. There are active ways of achieving relaxation. Relaxation is invaluable for maintaining your health and well-being, and repairing the toll that stress takes on your mind and body.
Almost everyone can benefit from learning relaxation techniques. Relaxation techniques help to slow your breathing and to focus your attention on the here and now. The concept of enjoying the moment we are living in, rather than being worried about what could happen in the future. Common relaxation techniques include meditation, mindfulness, tai chi and yoga. For a more active approach, walking outdoors or participating in a sporting sports activity can be relaxing.
It doesn't matter which relaxation technique you choose. What matters is that you select a technique that works for you and that you practice achieving relaxation regularly.