Are You Feeling STRESSED?
Do you see yourself as a good manager? How about a good manager of your stress? If you just laughed out loud or rolled your eyes, then you might have something to learn about effectively managing your stress. Stress is a normal part of our lives, but how we deal with stress affects our health and the quality of our lives.
Stress is normal
The stress response is part of being human. Actually, it’s played an important role in our survival as a species. This stress response was termed the “fight-or-flight response.” Consider this situation from ages ago. A man would be out hunting for food for the family when he spots a bear in the distance. His heart begins to race, his palms become sweaty, his vision becomes clearer, his reactions become quicker – he is experiencing the fight-or-flight response. It is the body’s reaction to a stressful encounter that enables us to either fight through the situation or run from it.
Fast-forward to today. We are no longer endangered by wild animals, but our bodies are still equipped with the same physiological reactions to stressful situations. Since we don’t release this stress by fighting or fleeing, the extra adrenaline is racing throughout our body without an appropriate physical response. Stress can occur immediately (acute stress) or it can occur over time (chronic stress). It is the chronic stress that can lead to significant health challenges and a decreased quality of life.
Effects of chronic stress
The symptoms of chronic stress can show up as physical and/or emotional symptoms. You might start to get frequent headaches, back pain, rapid heart rate, upset stomach, or tense muscles. Stress can also manifest itself as emotional symptoms such as an inability to concentrate, lost interest in activities you once enjoyed, being irritable, feeling constantly exhausted or worrying extensively. If a person allows chronic stress to accumulate without taking any steps to control it, they might be more prone to heart disease, high blood pressure, digestive disorders and weight gain.
Recognize causes of stress
One of the first tactics to control your stress is recognizing its cause. Be mindful of your daily activities to help you pinpoint any trends in your daily stress level. Find out what situations cause you stress and note how you handle (or don’t handle) the stressful situation. Evaluate your relationships, as they may be a cause of stress, and consider seeking professional counseling. If money problems are a source of stress, consider consulting with the U-Haul Human Resources Retirement Benefits Division or a financial planner to develop goals in managing your bills and finances.
Manage your stress level
Once you recognize your life’s stressors, you can effectively manage your stress level. Here are some ideas for coping with stress.
- Find a healthy physical release for your stress, such as taking a 10-minute walk, shooting some hoops, dancing, etc.
- Keep a journal of your feelings.
- Get outside and enjoy nature.
- Meet with a friend.
- Listen to calming music.
- Pray or meditate.
- Take up a relaxing hobby, such as gardening, knitting, creative writing or photography.
You can also proactively avoid stress by practicing good time-management skills.
- Learn to say “no” if you are overworked.
- Avoid procrastination.
- Create a daily to-do list to prioritize and manage your personal and business activities throughout the day and help you feel successful when the tasks are completed.
Make it your goal to learn to recognize your stressors, manage your stress symptoms, decrease or prevent stressful encounters in the future and get a move on good health!
For Questions, Comments, Feedback regarding stress:
Contact your benefits counselor in the Health and Life Benefits Department
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