Definition for stress
Stress is one of those words that has become so commonly used that it is used to cover a whole spectrum of emotions and feelings. We all assume that everyone else means the same as we do.
It's The Little Things That Get You Every Time
More than a half a century of living has taught me that I can survive the big problems in life. To me, this makes sense, because for most people events like marriage, divorce, birth and death, job changes, etc. don't happen all that often. So, the stress that they cause is usually short lived, fading as soon as the changes they bring become a normal part of your life.
On the other hand, it is the little chronic stressful things that I find the hardest to deal with. You know, the small things that you live with and tolerate everyday. The main problem with small annoying things is they tend to add up. The type of days I am talking about are those days when the car won't start and you get a ticket on the way to work, run out of gas, or spend the entire day dealing with other peoples' problems?
The small stresses are part of life and can become a problem when you allow them to get the best of you. When this happens they can rob you of the energy you need to handle the bigger, more important issues in your life. Sometimes, they can become the final straw. For example, I clearly remember the annoying broken front door lock that would stick and not let me in the house. I finally had it fixed when I found myself yelling at the lock and kicking the door after a crisis filled day at work. One thing about the small annoying things, most of them can be changed.
Here are some suggestions that may help you cope with the small stresses in your life:
• Take one thing at a time: If you are feeling overwhelmed, prioritize your tasks and do them one at a time. Make a point of letting go of work that others could do as well.
• Be realistic about your goals and your timelines. Do not be afraid to adjust goals and timelines when they become unrealistic.
• Make the time to catch up. When little things pile up, plan a day to take care of them. Mark the day on your calendar and make a list of what you hope to accomplish. Once-in-a-while plan a day with nothing to do but relax.
• Try not to put things off. If something is broken, make plans for fixing it. If you call 'the something' a four letter word twice you have waited too long.
• Most important: learn to accept what you cannot change, make a point of changing what you can and learn to tell the difference between the two.
Effects of stress
Common symptoms of stress include:
• Rapid heartbeat.
• Stiff neck and/or tight shoulders.
• Rapid breathing.
• Sweating and sweaty palms.
• Upset stomach, nausea, or diarrhea.
You also may notice signs of stress in your thinking, behavior, or mood. You may:
• Become irritable and intolerant of even minor disturbances.
• Feel irritated or frustrated, lose your temper more often, and yell at others for no reason.
• Feel jumpy or exhausted all the time.
• Find it hard to concentrate or focus on tasks.
• Worry too much about insignificant things.
• Doubt your ability to do things.
• Imagine negative, worrisome, or terrifying scenes.
• Feel you are missing opportunities because you cannot act quickly.
Kinds of stress
Stress management can be complicated and confusing because there are different types of stress--acute stress, episodic acute stress, and chronic stress -- each with its own characteristics, symptoms, duration, and treatment approaches. Let's look at each one.
Acute stress is the most common form of stress. It comes from demands and pressures of the recent past and anticipated demands and pressures of the near future. Acute stress is thrilling and exciting in small doses, but too much is exhausting. A fast run down a challenging ski slope, for example, is exhilarating early in the day. That same ski run late in the day is taxing and wearing. Skiing beyond your limits can lead to falls and broken bones. By the same token, overdoing on short-term stress can lead to psychological distress, tension headaches, upset stomach, and other symptoms.
Fortunately, acute stress symptoms are recognized by most people. It's a laundry list of what has gone awry in their lives: the auto accident that crumpled the car fender, the loss of an important contract, a deadline they're rushing to meet, their child's occasional problems at school, and so on.
Because it is short term, acute stress doesn't have enough time to do the extensive damage associated with long-term stress. The most common symptoms are:
• emotional distress--some combination of anger or irritability, anxiety, and depression, the three stress emotions;
• muscular problems including tension headache, back pain, jaw pain, and the muscular tensions that lead to pulled muscles
• stomach, gut and bowel problems such as heartburn, acid stomach, flatulence, diarrhea, constipation, and irritable bowel syndrome;
• elevation in blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, sweaty palms, heart palpitations, dizziness, migraine headaches, cold hands or feet, shortness of breath, and chest pain.
Advice for stress
Crowded bustling malls, repeated trips to the airport to fetch long-lost relatives, and the constant shuffling of ******s and turkey out of your oven can translate into one reaction -- stress. Christmas may be the season of love and celebration, but sometimes holiday festivities can become overwhelming.
According to Dr. Gail Saltz, a psychiatrist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell, some families feel stress from trying to keep up with the Joneses. For others, family conflicts arise from stress borne out of togetherness. Additionally, mothers often do a tremendous amount of preparation during the holiday season. This excess work and struggle to please everyone can leave them feeling isolated.
"During the holidays, our lives become even more stressful as we try to juggle our usual responsibilities with extra holiday preparation and complicated family dynamics," says Dr. Saltz. "This year, try to keep your holiday stress to a minimum by prioritizing what is important to you and then planning how you will get it done."
Don't wait for the last minute to make plans. If you have family difficulties, try to plan some time with friends.
Don't be a perfectionist about the holidays. Prioritize the events that matter the most to you and your family. Understand that you can't do everything, so choose the things that you can accomplish and enjoy.
For gift shopping, remember that it's the thought that counts. Don't let competitiveness and perfectionism send you on too many shopping trips.
Simplify. Don't bake 20 different types of ******s unless you enjoy it. You and your family may enjoy fewer ******s but more time together.
Remember that family time can be both wonderful and anxiety-provoking. Sometimes, expectations for reunions are too high, resulting in disappointment and frustration. Try to be realistic.
Plan your time so that you take care of several errands on one trip. You will have more time to spend doing the things that you really want to do.
Take some time to think about what the holiday really means to you and your family. Time together, religious observance, reflection on your life and future goals -- let these aspects of the holidays keep things in perspective.
These tips can help you to reduce stress and make the holidays a pleasure. Doing less may help you to enjoy the season more and that is really the best stress reliever of all.