All people experience stress at some point in their lives: for some it is rare, and for others it is a daily occurrence. Our bodies automatically deal with stress by releasing hormones to help deal with stressful situations. This is called the “fight or flight response.” Once stress is reduced, your body goes back to its normal state. But with chronic stress, the body is not able to return to a normal, relaxed state. Chronic stress or poor management of stress can affect your body, your thoughts and feelings, and your behavior. Eventually, untreated stress can contribute to health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and insomnia. Emotional problems, such as depression, anger, and anxiety can also be a result of chronic stress. Finally, unmanaged stress can result in overeating, angry outbursts, substance abuse, and social isolation.
The first step to reducing your stress is to identify your stress triggers. Some stressors, such as relationship problems, health issues, or financial difficulties, may seem obvious. However, daily stressors such as commuting in rush hour traffic, being over-committed at work, or juggling your children’s hectic schedules can also increase your stress level. Even positive events such as, planning a wedding, moving to a new home, or traveling on vacation can cause temporary stress.
Once your triggers for stress are identified, we can develop strategies to reduce these triggers. Some stressors can’t be avoided, but the reaction to them can be reduced. You will see a positive change in your mood and behavior when you use proper stress management techniques. Stress will not completely disappear from your life, but with practice, these techniques can greatly reduce your level of stress and increase your ability to cope with life’s challenges.