Friday, February 23, 2018

Although we use the word stress regularly, many of us do not have an understanding of this important issue.

Managing Stress

By Dr. Vendryes - Sept. 15, 2009 - The Gleaner - Jamaica

Although we use the word stress regularly, many of us do not have an understanding of this important issue.

What is stress?

Stress is a reaction, our inner response to those things that psychologists call 'stressors'. Recognising this difference between stress and stressor is critical to effective stress management.

Researchers have identified the 10 most powerful stressors in people's lives:

1. Major illness of a family member;

2. Serious concern about a relative (not illness);

3. Death of a family member;

4. Divorce or separation;

5. Forced to move home;

6. Forced change of job;

7. Being made redundant;

8. Insecurity at work;

9. Serious financial problems, and;

10. Legal prosecution.

We cannot avoid stressors. Our stress reaction, called the fight or flight response, is the body's built-in mechanism designed to help us deal with short-term danger. Short-term stress can be good and even make us stronger. Long-term stress, however, creates many problems.

How does stress affect us?

Our reaction to stressors (stress) activates the adrenal glands that sit on top of our kidneys. They produce adrenaline and cortisol. Cortisol is the major hormone of chronic stress. Many health problems are caused by or aggravated by chronic stress associated with abnormal levels of cortisol in the bloodstream.

Shortlist of stress-related problems:

Pain of any kind such as headache and back pain, heart problems like palpitations, blood pressure disorders, blood sugar imbalance, digestive problems like acid reflux, ulcers and colitis, sleep problems, depression, obesity, immune disorders such as infections, allergies, asthma and cancer.

All kinds of inflammation, auto-immune diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Skin conditions such as eczema, hormonal imbalance like period problems and many forms of sexual dysfunction.

How can we manage stress?

Change your awareness of stress. Learn to watch your reactions to the stressors in your life.

Take one step at a time. Much of our stress is in reaction to the past or the future. Both exist only in our thoughts and are out of our control, so practice to be in the present moment.

Focus your energy on solutions and less on problems.