That being said, I do want to acknowledge that many research papers suggest some stress is actually good for us. But I do prefer, where possible, to keep my stress level to a minimum.
While there are many definitions for stress, I picked the one on Wikipedia which states, “Stress typically describes a negative condition that can have an impact on one’s mental and physical well-being, but it is unclear what exactly defines stress and whether or not stress is a cause, an effect, or the process connecting the two.” Considering that all of us at some point experience stress beyond the amount which might help us, we then need to consider how best to cope with the negative stress.
We aren’t talking about the coping using those quick negative fixes such as binging on sweets, other foods or other quick pleasure items since those can bring their own problems. We do know when learning how to cope with stress it’s best to identify what is stressing you, consider why it’s stressing you, consider what your normal reaction to this stress has been and then learn to use better, healthier ways to lessen its effects on you.
Some of the most common coping techniques can be found in the Extension bulletin “I’m Not Stressed! Effective Stress Coping Techniques” on our USU Extension website. They start with deep breathing and visualization of a calm or happy place. Two others, both of which I find to be quite helpful, include exercise such as walking, and writing about what is stressing you and your reactions to it.
My friend, Marion Holyoak, used to tell me when I was stressed about something, usually someone, to write out my thoughts and let it sit for 24 hours. I have found this to be a great technique since I get to de-stress myself while writing out my thoughts and then 24 hours later I find it’s not an issue anymore. Other techniques include taking up a hobby, pampering yourself by doing something nice for yourself such as getting a massage, taking time out to go to a non-stressful movie or read a book, playing golf or bowling or any sport that doesn’t stress you, or just going and having fun in whichever way you find best.
Finally, de-stressing sometimes requires saying no to people and realizing you can’t do everything for everyone. Saying no can even apply to yourself when you think you have to do so many things when you should take a break.
Since stress can come from different places or reasons, it’s not likely we could ever be entirely free of it. Learning how to recognize stress and discovering the ways that are healthiest for you to manage it will help tremendously.
So take time for yourself, and know we can only do what we can do and it’s important we each take care of ourselves.
Thought for the day: “Adopting the right attitude can convert a negative stress into a positive one. —Hans Selye.
For more information about these topics you can check out this brochure on the Extension website at http://extension.usu.edu/files/publications/publication/FC_Marriage_2012-03pr.pdf, or the many other good websites with information about coping with stress. For information about the USU Extension program, call the Utah State University Extension Grand County office at 259-7558 or email Mike Johnson at email@example.com.