As the holidays approach, Cimorge Counseling & Consultation, Inc., shares the article “Eliminating Stress”. With the many roles and responsibilities of life, we may become overwhelmed. Should this happen, I provide the following article as a resource for you. – Dr. Cindy M. George, Director, Cimorge Counseling & Consultation, Inc.
Stress can be described as the pressure or demand placed on one’s self to adapt or adjust to a situation or condition. Pressures can be internal or external, forcing a person to speed up, intensify their efforts, or change the direction of goal-oriented behavior.
The actual cause of stress is called a stressor. Stressors can be psychological or physical. A psychological stressor would be our experience of examinations in school, problems with relationships, life changes such as the death of a loved one, divorce, or the loss of a job, whereas examples of physical stressors are exposure to extreme temperatures or noise levels.
There are numerous causes of stress, but the most usual sources are frustrations and conflicts. Frustrations occur when our movement toward a specific goal is blocked, and conflicts arise when there is the simultaneous occurrence of two or more incompatible needs or motives. For example, wanting to take a trip or vacation, but financially unable to afford to do so. It is the presence of one that prevents the satisfaction of the other(s). If stress is prolonged and intense, it can overtax our coping ability and lead to emotional distress such as anxiety and depression, or physical complaints such as headaches and fatigue. In some instances, however, stress may be necessary to keep us active and alert.
It should be noted that stress is a very natural response to life challenges. The key, however, to coping with stress is how we respond or react to stress. One may respond in a way that may be maladaptive or bring forth negative consequences. This may include isolation and substance use.
To better cope with the stress in our lives we should recognize that we are stressed by paying close attention to our bodies, that is, increased heart rate, tension in our muscles, and lack of focus and concentration. Once we recognize that we are stressed, simply admitting that we are, and we are only human if we are, we can then begin to cope with it, and potentially eliminate the stress. A few key pointers to help with coping with stress include but are not limited to being optimistic. Research has actually found a positive correlation between optimism and good health.
Effective problem solving skills have also been found to be positively correlated with reducing anxiety and depression. Also, exercise in its many forms that are comfortable and convenient for the individual such as breathing exercises, swimming, walking, and stretching, are all useful ways to reduce stress. Additionally, the support of family and friends, as well as a spiritual support system are helpful in reducing stress. Further, it is important not to set unrealistic and non-attainable goals as is usually done for “New Year’s Resolutions.”
The reason being, when the goal is not met, one will become frustrated which leads to stress and also to depression. Moreover, one’s success should not be attached to another person, because if the other person does not fulfill our expectations, we become disappointed, which may also lead to frustration, stress, and depression.
More specifically, for parents and caregivers in reducing stress for children, the most important thing to keep in mind is that consistency and stability are essential to helping children live stress free lives; such as with discipline and daily activities. Consistency creates a sense of security and reduces feelings of confusion and vulnerability. If children do not feel secure and stable, this may be expressed in outward behaviors such as fighting and noncompliance to rules.
We are unique individuals with our own inner strengths, we can shape our lives and, therefore, have the ability to cope with and minimize the stressors of our lives. Acknowledging and accepting the existence of stress is the first step to being able to cope with it effectively. Utilizing strategies that best fit our personality, our ability, and current life situations will allow for better coping and ultimately the reduction and elimination of stress.