Stress Management

Stress is the physical and mental tension you feel when you are faced with change. It tells you that you are under pressure. Your body has evolved a system that warns and prepares you for change and danger. This is called the fight or flight system. When under stress, the system causes you to be more alert, and it makes the heart beat faster. Your muscles tense; you sweat, but your mouth goes dry. Your stomach or bowels might feel upset; you might have a change in appetite or develop a tension headache or hand tremor. Stress cannot be eliminated but it can be productive if you learn how to handle it effectively.

Signs of Stress

Stress causes anxiety, which, in small doses, is healthy, because it motivates you to get things done. Stress is both additive and cumulative. It adds up over time until a state of crisis is reached and symptoms appear. A series of little things which make you anxious and nervous, can, over a period of time, be harmful. Stress can make you susceptible to colds, respiratory disorders, and even tooth decay. It can also increase your risk for developing heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, ulcers, colitis, and cancer. Untreated, these symptoms may lead to physical illness and sometimes death.

  • Normal emotions that are displayed to an extreme degree or for a prolonged period of time (e.g., tearfulness, nervousness, immobilizing fear)
  • Marked changes in personality or mood
  • Listlessness, lack of energy
  • Inability to make decisions or to concentrate on classes or other activities
  • High levels of irritability, including unruly, aggressive, violent or abrasive behavior
  • Use of alcohol or other drugs that leads to recklessness, impairment, loss of control or if it represents a change in use
  • Thought or desire to take drastic action or make impulse decisions (e.g., dropping out of school in response to a fear that a test may not go well)
  • Withdrawal, excessive sleeping, and procrastination
  • Decreased sexual desire or decreased desire for previous levels of intimacy
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Muscle tension, headaches, low back pain, insomnia and high blood pressure

Stress Busters

  • Be realistic in what you can and cannot do. Overambitious goals are a frequent cause of stress
  • Get adequate sleep. Try to establish a regular hour for bedtime.
  • Avoid hurrying and worry.
  • Control your emotions. Decide if the circumstances are worth getting stressed over. Don't let petty problems get the best of you.
  • Learn to love people more than things. Seek out and spend time with people whose company you enjoy.
  • Don't rely on alcohol or drugs to cope with a problem.
  • Don't keep feelings to yourself. Identify fears and talk them over with others. Stick to saying what you feel. Avoid focusing on what the other person is doing. Think "I feel angry", rather than "You make me angry".
  • Make decisions even though they may turn out to be wrong. Compromise as often as possible as this will give you some control over the situation.
  • Try to follow routines. Avoid disorganization and disruption.
  • Develop a sense of humor, especially when there is tension. This will help to prevent you from taking things too seriously.
  • Physical exercise without overdoing it works wonders in helping reduce stress.