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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

To Stress Or Not To Stress!

Stress. It's that six-letter word that manages to track us down and leave us with either a pounding headache or a glazed look in our eyes as we stare with absent abandon at the television screen. Stress can strike all age groups at the most unexpected times. Some people thrive on stress and others crumple at the smallest obstacle in their path. There's a happy medium to be found and ways of dealing with stress are as varied as the types of stress out there. You're certainly familiar with work stress. That's probably the most common reason for stress in the first place. But did you know that there is also relationship stress and child rearing stress?

Stress affects our body in many different ways. Just because you don't work on Wall Street doesn't mean you can't also suffer from stress in the home. Many mothers suffer from the daily stress of raising children and making sure that their kids stay on track. Does that make their stress any different from that experienced by a stockbroker? What about the stress caused by the need to pay bills with money you don't have? Stress is stress, no two ways about it. But stress caused by different factors can affect the body in different ways. Stress from a high pace job may result in ulcers while stress caused by daily child rearing activities can result in a pounding headache.

A certain amount of stress is actually good for us. It keeps us adaptable and on our toes, and prepares us to cope with unexpected events. Successfully dealing with stress can improve our health and self esteem. Stress is our body's way of reacting to pressures or responsibilities that may seem overwhelming. A first day on the job may be a huge stress for many people, while others thrive in the new experience and challenge. Stress is often capable of laying us low or causing depression if not addressed in a timely fashion. For some, stress is a part of daily living. At its most basic level, stress is our ancestral way of dealing with danger. We react to stress in a 'fight or flight' response, and for the most part, it's merely dealing with new situations in a calm, rational manner. For some, stress initiates an accelerated heartbeat, sweaty palms and trembling hands. Those symptoms are caused by adrenaline being pumped into your bloodstream. Even if the situation isn't dangerous, glucose and fatty acids are also increased, in order to provide our body with adequate levels of energy just in case we need to make a quick escape.

Most stressful situations, at least those encountered on a daily basis, won't require a dash to escape, even though you may want to. Finding ways to deal with stress in your own way, one that works for you, is the key to managing stress before symptoms start to affect your health. Too much stress is bad for you, so it's up to you to determine how best to relieve your stress so you can enjoy your life.

The next time you encounter stress, stop. Find a place where you can be alone (whether it's your cubicle, the water cooler, in your car or in the bathroom). Just find a place, shut your eyes and breathe in deeply. Listen to your body. Feel the physical sensations as your breath moves in and out. Focus your attention inward. Try to relax. Every breath you take in can relax another muscle, another joint, another cell membrane. Spend a few moments in stillness. When you open your eyes, you will be surprised at how refreshed you will feel.

Linda Woods - About the Author:
Linda Woods is a freelance writer and radio talk show host with a focus on healing, self-help and empowerment. Get all the latest information about stress at Be sure to check out our stress pages

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