Why Stress Management is Important
Estimated watch time: 5 mins 03 secs
Learning stress management strategies is important for your mental and also physical health. Stress management lets you learn to neutralize the effects of inevitable daily stress. Stress management can also help prevent the effects of chronic stress. This guide features steps to a good starting point: identifying your usual stress patterns to see where you need to make changes.
- Who Is at Risk For Stress?
- How Common Is Stress?
- 9 Common Myths About Stress
- Physical Effects of Stress
- 10 Stress Management Techniques
Stress Management Part 1
Welcome to this series on stress management, in this lesson we will be going over why stress management is important.
Stress is any change or demand in your environment that causes you to have a negative reaction. That reaction can be physical, mental, emotional, or all three.
By definition, stress is normal, since your environment constantly shifts and changes. You are constantly reacting to those shifts and changes.
As you experience those environmental changes, your body and mind react. Your body and mind alert you to the possibility of threat.
Stress management is a way of neutralizing the effects of all the stress that comes at you daily. It’s a set of tools you can use to combat the potentially negative effects of too much stress.
How do you know you’re stressed?
Become aware of symptoms and signs that let you know you are under too much stress.
Those symptoms and signs are warnings that stress is starting to take a toll on you. Use your awareness of the signs to prompt you to look at your stress management plan and make some revisions.
The symptoms and signals of stress are different for everyone but can include:
- Physical reactions like: appetite and sleep problems, headaches and stomach aches, fatigue, sweating, grinding your teeth, tension in your body, back pain, skin irritations and chest pain.
- Psychological reactions like: panic attacks, feeling overwhelmed, irritability, anger, withdrawing from others, memory issues, tearfulness, and compulsive behaviors like drinking, smoking or eating too much.
Knowing the particular way you respond to stress is a good first step to stress management.
Is it stress or anxiety?
Stress and anxiety are experienced in similar ways. There are a few differences.
Stress tends to be relatively short-term. Once you have a little distance from the environmental trigger or you’ve figured out how to manage it, your stress reactions are likely to go away.
Anxiety tends to be more long-term. It may not appear related to a specific trigger. If there is a trigger, the negative effects tend to linger after the trigger is behind you.
Why it is important to have stress management tools:
Left unmanaged, in addition to the signs and symptoms already mentioned, stress can have chronic effects because your body remains on high alert. Chronic stress reactions can include:
- Effects on the body: cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, a compromised immune system, skin problems, respiratory issues and obesity
- Emotional effects: anxiety disorders, depression, mood swings and sexual dysfunction
- Compulsive behaviors: eating disorders and addictions to nicotine, alcohol and drugs
The types of situations, or stressors, that can trigger a stress reaction include:
- Daily hassles. These are the little things that bother you, but may not seem overly problematic. Things like an unpleasant encounter with a coworker, a long wait at the doctor’s office or accidentally overdrawing your bank account.
- Positive stressful situations. Even positive events can cause what is called eustress. You may not experience getting married, starting your dream job or renovating your home as a negative event, but these events have the same kind of effects on the body and mind as negative stressors.
- Negative stressful situations. These are the most readily identified stressors because they clearly cause distress. These are things like losing your job, a relationship breaking up or a death.
You may not experience a negative stressor very often, but even daily hassles and eustress can combine to cause problematic stress reactions. There is a cumulative effect across all of these types of stress.
Identifying your typical patterns is a good start for stress management.
- How are you dealing with the stress now? Do you talk to a friend, go for a walk or ignore it and try to muscle through?
- How have you dealt with stress in the past? Are there things you have done in the past that were helpful? Can you start doing them now?
- What have you tried that has worked? Maybe talking to a friend or walking has helped.
- What have you tried that has not worked? Ignoring the problem or muscling your way through probably do not work. They may work in the short-term, but probably not long-term.
Examining your patterns helps you decide what to do more of, and what to do less of.
When you’re under stress, it is difficult to make time for the things that reduce your stress. Of course, that’s the most important time to make space for those things.
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