24 June 2009

On Stress - An Article

Stress is beneficial.

That's right, and necessary too. Without some sort of tension, you wouldn't feel compelled to get up and report to work everyday. If there were no consequences, you would have gotten your hand stuck in the cookie jar long ago.

Stress begins at a young age, usually with school, or even with a parent's first attempts at discipline. Once you realize what stress is and how it can play a vital part in building a successful you, you can then put that 'motivation' to work for you.

Signs of Stress:

  • Fatigue – One of the most common signs of too much stress is your body's request for rest. Shallow, rapid breathing pave the way for sore, undernourished muscles in the way of oxygen.
  • Over/underconsolation – You know just how satisfying a cold beer can be at the end of the workweek with buddies. Or a satisfying cigarette during breaktime. Or a whole pint of chocolate-chip-cookie dough ice cream in front of the tv. During stressful situations, we either tend to withhold or overindulge in comfort. Eating can become a solace of sorts, with the foods ranging from the unique to the extreme (whole gallon of cookie-dough ice cream). Drinking can accelerate into alcoholism. Smoking can lead to a much more dangerous (and expensive) several packs a day habit.
  • Withdrawl – In this state, you are more likely to escape by withdrawing into an activity, whether sedentary or active, becoming unresponsive to others. Gaming. Television. I hesitate to say reading, but I do remember diving into book after book to escape my reality of my nasty previous marriage.
  • Irritability – I think we're all familiar with the snappy sort of way people act when under pressure. The fight-or-flight instinct kicks in, overtaxing the system, leaving muscles tired and sore, the brain depleted of oxygen and a wicked temper. Drivers on the road may infuriate you for little or no reason. Children may become victims of physical/verbal abuse. Your spouse may be left to deal with your unexpected reactions on their own. This serves to intensify the cycle.
  • Insomnia/oversleeping – I think that this is self-defined.

What sort of signs might you be seeing in your own life to signify undue amounts of stress?


  • Comfort/consolation – The same applied here from the list above. Television, socialization, an alcoholic beverage, gaming, hobby/activity (knitting, drawing, writing, crafting to name a few). Take a hot bath. Take a nap. Go for a walk with the family. Watch a movie with a friend.
  • Relaxation techniques – These include many different methods from deep breathing exercises to Yoga classes. Stretching. Guided Imagery narratives are also highly effective, and may earn you more of that sleep you might be craving/needing.
  • Sleep – The magic number, experts say, is seven-and-a-half hours a nights. Studies seem to show that four-to-six hours actually harms the body, and has a cumulative effect on the system besides.
  • Eat healthy – Instead of that entire half-gallon of ice cream, try an apple, grapes or a banana. Make a healthy sandwich. Cook dinner with fresh vegetables. Skipping meals only serves to aggravate an already delicate condition if you're overstressed. Turning to vices such as caffeine, nicotine, or alcohol also work against you, because now your body has to process these toxins in addition to managing your stress level.

The key question to ask yourself on any comfort/indulgence:

Does what I'm doing rejuvenate or deplete me?

Even usually-rejuvenating activities may deplete you. You have to be willing to shift priorities and activities to maintain a healthy balance. For instance: Television for an hour before bed, rather than the entire evening from the moment you set foot inside your door. Or, maybe that does work for you. You've had that hellish week, and only wish to vegetate in front of a game or the television.

Ask yourself the question above in bold and there you will have your answer on whether it is right for you.

Inform others of how you are feeling. Instead of coming home to yell at the kids and retreat into your room with a closed door, let your significant other/older children know you've had a rough day and that fifteen minutes should get you in a better mood if only slightly. This relies on valuable and very necessary communication skills already in place with your family/friends/housemates, etc.

The key points to this entire article are: What works to serve your needs? Is it compatible with others? What can you do to maintain a healthy stress level?

Take care of yourself and your body, for better chances to avoid nastier health risks down the road.

Thank you for reading.


ditty said...

Ah, stress. Can't live with it; can't live without it. It seems the key is to manage stressors without becoming stressed (connotatively speaking, anyway). Your article does a nice job laying out some guidelines. Thanks for sharing! :-)

Anonymous said...

I need to print this out and post it pretty much EVERYWHERE. Very good piece, thanks for sharing it! Now, to get a new ream of paper and another ink cartrige... wonder if my boss will take offense if I plaster the register with this...

Pavitra said...

hey very nice write-up...! Yeah i do agree with you...Stress is required and not required at the same time...

Heather said...

I'm going to do my best to take your advice there.

Chris 'Frog Queen' Davis said...

Very useful. Just what I needed to read right now. I agree with stina8753 - I think I am going to print it out and post it everywhere.