Stress is a natural reaction or response, both physical and emotional, to external threats or stimuli whether actual or imagined. A certain level of stress is required by the human body to ensure the nervous system responds to challenges, stays focused and remains alert. It is a way for the body to protect itself against external threats.
Excessive stress, however can be detrimental, and could result in the following health issues or symptoms:
- increased blood pressure;
- suppressed immune system;
- increased risk of heart attack and stroke; and
- accelerated aging.
Chronic or long-term stress can also impact on your mind by making you more vulnerable to depression and anxiety.
The following strategy will help to manage stress successfully:
- Allocate time for yourself. Spend some time each day relaxing or doing something that you really enjoy.
- Make time for other people in your life. Invest time with your close relationships by talking to them and listening to what they have to say.
- Start the day with a relaxation activity. Spend at least 15 to 30 minutes every morning exercising, thinking or undertaking a relaxation exercise, such as creative visualization.
- Allow enough time for travel. Avoid rushing to meetings and appointments by allowing enough time for travel so that you arrive in plenty of time stress-free.
- Get organized. Avoid clutter and chaos by spending time proactively to organize your time, your files and your information systems.
- Be assertive. Be assertive but avoid aggressive behaviour which could result in stress. Furthermore being proactive will avoid stress in the future.
- Start a hobby. Find a hobby that is relaxing and non-stressful, such as reading or taking walks in the park.
- Avoid stressful situations. Avoid situations which could be stressful for you.
- Make lists and plans. You will be able to think more clearly by writing down your list of actions and plans.
- Relax before you go to bed. Before going to bed spend some time relaxing through reflection, creative visualization and relaxation activities, or simply reading a book.
Worry is another behaviour that can create excessive stress. Most of the things we worry about do not even come true. This is well illustrated by a quote from William R. Inge, “Worry is interest paid on trouble before it is due.“ Therefore, the best way to avoid or manage worry is to check whether worry can be justified by asking the following questions:
- What is the worst thing that can happen when confronted with a situation?
- How would I deal with the situation?
You will find that virtually any problem or challenge that is confronted can be solved in some way thereby avoiding the need to worry. Taking immediate action to solve the problem or challenge will ensure that the issues do not become unmanageable.
To your success!
Dr John Kapeleris