By Betty Ann Rudolph, L.C.S.W.
Beacon Behavioral Services
In the midst of these troubled times, we wanted to take a moment to talk to you
about stress. We are all familiar with the word "stress". Often, we associate
stress with imagined upcoming changes. We worry and brood about how our world is
changing, about how war and terrorism will impact our lives, about whether
strange illnesses will overcome us and those we love. We worry about things
large and small. Your body too experiences stress in response to anything that
threatens to or actually causes a change in your life.
What Causes Stress? Quite simply put, both good and bad changes in your daily
routine cause stress. Looked at another way, causes of stress can be classified
in two general groups: external and internal. External stressors can include
relatives getting sick or dying, jobs being lost, or people criticizing you or
becoming angry. However, most of the stress that we have is self-generated by
our thoughts, perceptions and internal reactions to the external stresses we
experience. Some examples of stress inducers are:
Death of a loved one
Divorce, marriage, or reconciliation
Menopause, puberty, pregnancy or PMS
Serious personal injury
Promotions, role changes at work, or retirement
Changes in social activities
Changes in health
Arguments with friends or loved ones
Chronic physical problems
Changes in living conditions or moving
Difficulties with intimacy
How Can You Relieve Stress? Since our response to external
stress is under our control we actually have a measure of choice in coping with
stress that at first might not always be apparent when outside forces act on us.
Here are a few stress reduction strategies.
Exercise: Regular exercise can help drain excess energy that builds up
Practice Relaxation/Meditation: We can learn to decrease our physical
response to stress.
Sleep: Try to develop healthy and regular sleep patterns.
Decrease Caffeine: Caffeine can actually be a stimulant which can
generate a stressful physical reaction.
Balance Work and Leisure Activities: Make sure you get enough time to
take care of yourself. Your leisure time is for you to refuel your emotional
Set Realistic Expectations: Give yourself permission to have reasonable
expectations of yourself and others. Dont set yourself up for disappointments.
Examine Your Belief Systems: Understand that your beliefs are not
"truths" but your personal opinions and lessons you have been taught. Make sure
your beliefs are indeed rationale and appropriate.
Stress is often thought of in a negative light. However, taking control of our
responses can help us channel the stress productively as we strive to stay
active and alert, prepared to face the challenges, obstacles, and changes ahead.