Wednesday, August 30, 2006

stress management : STRESS MANAGEMENT 1

Stress is the accumulation of tension that you begin to feel, both physically and emotionally, as you try to adapt to all the changes and demands in your environment. There are many stressful life events that we all experience at one time or another, such as death of a loved one or the loss of an important relationship. While these events would be stressful to anyone, it is not so much what happens out there, as what you do with it for yourself. In addition, stress can build up on a daily basis due to school and financial pressures and can be just as damaging as major life events if you do not learn how to release it. How you manage the stressful events in your life will determine whether you feel temporary anxiety or long-term anxiety, relatively short-term sadness and grief, or chronic depression. This is true for physical problems as well. If you find ways to manage your stress you might have only mild stomach or intestinal distress from time to time rather than developing ulcers or colitis. That is to say, if you do not manage the stress in your life on a daily basis, it can have long-term consequences.

People experience stress in different ways. A stressful event for one person might be relatively minor for another person. Also, stress is not necessarily bad. A small or manageable amount of stress might motivate one to achieve and could help them give their best performance. Even anticipated and happy events such as graduation or marriage can be stressful. Again, how you cope emotionally and physically depends on how you perceive the stressful event and what interventions you use on a daily basis.

Our stress reaction is triggered when we perceive danger: whether it is physical danger or emotional danger or both. Our bodies have what is known as a "fight or flight" response which helps you respond quickly if you are suddenly faced with danger. This reponse was helpful to the caveman who had to fight on a regular basis to obtain food and protect his shelter. Unfortunately, our bodies have the same physiological response when we hear a frightening noise or fail to achieve something that is important to us. Anything that we perceive as a threat stimulates our body to respond: the heart rate increases; blood pressure rises; hormones pour into the blood that send sugar to the muscles and brain to mobilize energy; digestive processes are turned off so energy is available elsewhere, and so on. These changes were designed to help us react physically but we rarely need to respond in that way anymore. Therefore our bodies begin to experience wear and tear when these processes are stimulated over and over again with no outlet.

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