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Dealing with stress.

Stress is an emotional and physical response to pressures from the outside world. Some studies have shown 75 - 95% of all visits to primary care physicians are due to stress related issues. Nearly all of us are coping with a great deal of stress and need to learn how to recognize the symptoms and how to relieve stress.

Here is a shortened list of symptoms of stress. Keep in mind that while these are indeed symptoms of stress, they are also symptoms of other conditions.

* Anxious

* Anxiety

* Fatigue

* Anger issues

* Sleep issues

* High blood

* Problems concentrating

* Easily irritated

* Focusing on negative thoughts

* Avoiding people and responsibilities

* Digestive problems

* Muscle tension pressure and pain

Once the symptoms are identified, the next step in alleviating stress is to identify the cause. Each of us is stressed but to a different degree under different situations. For example, you (like me) might suffer road rage. It is wasted energy and time. In the case of road rage, it is easily identified. Many sources of stress are easily identified and can be reduced or completely removed. Others are not so easily spotted and thus are harder to deal with. When you encounter the symptoms, take a step back; have a bottle of soda pop or a cup of coffee or tea and ask yourself why you feel stressed. If you can pinpoint it, you can focus on ways to ameliorate it. If you cannot see the reason, maybe you should "phone a friend" and get some feedback. I have a couple of friends who approach life more black-white than I do. They are always willing to show me the way. Once you have found the source, then it's time to go to work to reduce it, beginning with stress from outside you such as deadlines, other drivers, co-workers, etc.

There is no lack of advice and tools on how to deal with stress. As with a diet, find a set of stress relievers that work for you and use them. You may find that some relievers work well in some situations but not in others. You can listen to soothing music in the car but you cannot color with your new Crayons nor cry while driving your car.

There is a nifty little book titled Blow a Bubble, Not a Gasket that has 101 ways to reduce stress. Here are a few of these to give you some ideas to use when you are feeling stressed:

* Practice random acts of kindness

* Gaze at the stars

* Do the unexpected

* Bake some cookies and give them away (after you check them)

* Think happy thoughts; remember the good old days

* Telephone someone you like; chat a while

* Find chocolate

* Watch a funny movie

* Listen to soothing music

* Turn off the TV

* Close your eyes and try traveling to a favorite place or time

You may find that certain yoga exercises and positions help. There are a number of them that you can use at work without usually attracting attention to yourself. One helpful book on this is simply Office Yoga. is also a small, short book full of relaxing exercises. To give you an idea of them, here are a couple:

* For the keyboard, squeeze your fists tight; stretch your fingers wide; interlace your fingers and rotate your hands, invent your own exercises.


* Email meditation: Remember to breathe slowly and focus your attention on your breath. Make your outbreath twice as long as the in-breath.

* Have a time each day to relax and rejuvenate. Put this time in your daily planner. let it be replaced by another to-do item.

* Give yourself a massage by placing both hands on your shoulders and neck. Squeeze your fingers and palms. Rub vigorously keeping your shoulders relaxed.

You yourself can be a source of stress. Here are some sources of self-stress:

* Feeling a constant pressure to achieve. Or worse, to be perfect.

* Do you criticize yourself when you fail to achieve?

* Is it necessary for you to be in control all the time? Do you feel that you fail if you are not always in control? Are you uncomfortable when you need to delegate?

* Does your self-esteem depend on what others think of you?

* Do you sometimes avoid doing something for fear you will get it wrong?

These are not easy sources of stress to overcome. There are ways to reduce the stress from them:

* Make your to-do list realistic. You are doomed to failure if you make it impossible to finish all the tasks.

* Discuss deadlines and projects with your supervisor to ensure that you are both in agreement on what exactly you are to do and when it is due.

* For those things you don't want to do, pick a time of day when you are most alert. If you are a morning person, do it in the morning. It's OK to ask for help. You might find out things about yourself and the person you ask.

* Remind yourself that no one else is perfect.

One last thought. Leave work at work. When you get home, do something for you that's far from work. Play an instrument, paint, read a novel--do something that takes your mind off work and lets your brain work in a different gear.

It's been said that it takes more muscles to frown than to smile. I wonder if it takes more psychic energy (not to mention caloric energy) to be stressed than not to be stressed. We certainly know that stress has no useful facets. We know or can ways to diminish stress. This is a good time to be aware of the signs and symptoms and to find ways to combat them in a positive way.

Selected References

Bodger, C., Smart Guide to Relieving Stress, John Wiley, NY, 1999.

Eshref, H, Easy Exercises to Relieve Stress. Adams Media, Holbrook, MA, 1999.

McEwen, B., The End of Stress as We Know it, John Henry Press, Washington, D.C., 2002.

Walters, J. Blow a Bubble, Not a Gasket, Quail Ridge Books, Brandon, MS, 2002

Zeer, D. Office Yoga, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 2005.

Web sites (This is the Franklin Institute web site. The institute is largely devoted to sharing science.)
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Author:Plaut, David
Publication:AMT Events
Article Type:Geographic overview
Date:Sep 1, 2011
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