How to manage Stress: What are effective ways to manage stress before it manages you?

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Answered by: Nicole, An Expert in the Stress Management - General Category
Stress refers to any unusual pressure that an individual may experience on a day to day basis. A pressure can include something as simple as oversleeping and having to rush to get ready for school or work, thereby starting the day off with stress. It can be a lot more extreme, such as losing a job or relocating. It can also be absolutely traumatic, as in when someone loses a loved one to death or a failed relationship. Each of these factors cause stress and it is very important that individuals possess the skills and techniques necessary to cope and learn how to manage stress in their lives.

It is all to often that people do not possess these skills and end up dealing with their stresses in negative ways, ultimately causing more stress in the end! A positive way of dealing with stress can include exercise, engaging in a hobby, talking with a trusted friend or family member, or even counseling. Negative ways of dealing with stress include turning to alcohol, drugs, or dangerous activities that people often see as an "escape" from the stress. What we must remember is that the stress will still be there the next day, the next week, only usually with multiplied problems if dealt with in a negative manner.

For example, let us say someone has a fight with a spouse and decides to go to the local bar to have a few drinks and ends up getting a DUI. The immediate stress of the fight might go away for a few hours while the person is drinking and "escaping" the fight, however, the next morning when he or she sobers up the problems have magnified. The next month when he or she has to go to court, the stress has escalated.

Stress is one of the main causes of health problems in people of all ages. It can raise blood pressure, increase the chance of heart problems, stomach problems, fertility problems, etc. This in turn usually results in medications being prescribed which cost money and sometimes further health problems. For example, an individual who becomes so stressed out that it is unmanageable may consult a doctor and be prescribed strong antidepressants. This is not always the answer because the individual can sometimes end up depending on those medications to cope with life.

The best thing one can do is try to eliminate and avoid stressful triggers in life. As we all know, it is impossible to avoid all stress at all times. It is possible, however, to avoid triggers that result in stressful situations. For example, if an individual knows that hosting a large dinner party causes him or her a lot of stress, that particular situation should try to be avoided. It would be smart to suggest holding the dinner party at a local restaurant rather than their home, for example.

It is often stated that stress is a killer and this is true because of how stress affects our bodies emotionally, physically, and chemically. Learning how to manage stress, cope, and prevent stressful situations are key.

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