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Managing Your Stress (Part Two)

Can you pinpoint exactly what causes you stress?  It could be one major thing, or it could be a combination of several things. Many of us would say our current state of affairs is causing us stress. The country is slowly beginning to open back up now, but for a while, we were all feeling disconnected from our families and communities.

People perceive stressors differently and people respond to stressors differently. People often pinpoint work, finances, health concerns, and family responsibilities as being major sources of stress.  Those are the major reasons people stress but let us peel away the layers and examine why these things are stressful.

Uncertainty. This is what was (and is) causing so much stress during our time of quarantining and isolation. We did not really know much. When was it going to end? How was it going to end? What would life look like when it ended? One question would always lead to another and the not knowing was extremely stressful. Suspense and foreboding are great when it comes to a movie or a novel, but not when it comes to our lives. COVID-19 has caused many people to lose their jobs or have their hours cut.  This could lead to a lot of uncertainty. An uncertain health report could lead to stress because of all the uncertainty. Stress due to uncertainty is related to us being uncomfortable with not having control over every aspect of our lives.

Being Overwhelmed. Many of us have a lot going on with work, children, our hobbies, etc. It is easy to become overwhelmed especially when it seems like there is always something to be done and something that needs attention. Becoming overwhelmed can happen in a multitude of settings. A sudden job loss, the death of a loved one, or even a positive life event like a marriage can be overwhelming. The feeling of being overwhelmed can become so intense that it will literally take your breath away.

Unrealistic expectations. Sometimes we become stressed mainly because of the stress that we put on ourselves. We sometimes hold ourselves to such high expectations that disappointment and frustration is the only outcome. When we overcommit ourselves or have unrealistic expectations for ourselves, stress is inevitable. A great example of this would be a parent who is trying to balance work life and family life. The expectation that you can give 100% both at work and at home is not inconceivable but can be a heavy burden to put on yourself.

Comment below some of the things that cause you stress.

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Managing Your Stress (Part One)

What causes you stress? Money? Your job? Family responsibilities?

And what physically happens to you when you begin to stress? Sweaty palms? Headaches? Chest pain?

Stress is defined as a state of mental or emotional strain or tension that results from adverse or very demanding circumstances. We all perceive stress differently but the reality is that stress can be very harmful to health if you do not manage it properly. Let me first dispel a few myths about stress.

  1. Only major symptoms need to be addressed.  Most of us are aware of the more prominent symptoms of stress such as high blood pressure and headaches, but there are other lesser-known symptoms that should alert us that something is not right. Stress can also cause you to have muscle spasms, skin itchiness/rashes, and a weakened immune system. All of these things are symptoms that should not be overlooked but often are due to us not being aware that they are indicators that our bodies are operating under a heightened level of stress.
  2. Stress is everywhere and cannot be avoided.  I used to believe this myth because my life was so stressful that it felt as if the stress could not be avoided. What I learned is that even if you feel that stress cannot be avoided, it can definitely be managed. The idea that stress is everywhere and just a part of life can lead to dangerous health consequences.
  3. No symptoms, no stress.  Some of us live in a constant state of stress. And just because we do not have the classic symptoms of stress, does not mean we are not stressed. Thinking that you are not stressed just because you do not have the classic symptoms of stress can be detrimental.

Many of us are aware of the more common ways that your body reacts to stress: tension headaches, back pain, chest pain, stomach issues, etc. But let’s talk about some of the lesser-known ways that stress can impact you.

  1. Hair loss/graying and skin issues. Stress can be a contributing factor to hair loss and premature graying. Skin issues such as eczema, psoriasis, and acne can be more severe if you are stressed.
  2. Immune health.  Stress causes your immune system to lose its effectiveness in fighting off antigens which could make you more likely to get sick.
  3. Excessive sleeping or insomnia.  When your body is under a high level of stress, it often tries to control that stress through rest. This could lead to you noticing that you are sleeping a lot. Or your stress can be so overwhelming that you may not be able to sleep, which could lead to insomnia.
  4. Memory loss.  When you are stressed and your mind is occupied by the thoughts that are stressing you out, you have a tendency not to remember things. Difficulty focusing can make you forget details and make it hard to concentrate.
  5. Racing thoughts.  If you are stressing about a particular issue that is causing you to worry, the stress can make your thoughts go down a rabbit hole. When this happens, your thoughts begin to run wild with each thought being more worrisome and stressful than the one before it.

Comment if you know of or have experienced any other lesser known symptoms of stress. Please join me tomorrow as I talk about the common causes of stress.

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The Serenity Room is now on Instagram!  Visit us at www.instagram.com/theserenityroom20