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Wellness and You!

Are you stressed? Feeling like you don't have 5 minutes to read this article? Stop. Take a deep breath and read on.....Learn how to deal with your stress, identify effective things you can do to reduce stress and change the way you respond to stressful situations. When you finish reading the article; stop, take another deep breath and identify at least one thing you can do to eliminate stress in your life.

What is Stress?

Stress is the feeling you get when you try to balance the ever-growing demands of work with the never-ending needs of family. Stress is preparing for the holidays, a visit from the in-laws or a trip to the dentist for a root canal. Stress is balancing the checkbook when the house needs repairs and the kids need new clothes while you work two jobs. Stress is stewing in traffic at 8:50 a.m. when you must meet your new boss at 9 a.m. Stress, in short, is everywhere you turn.

Stress occurs when you perceive outside demands as being greater than your emotional resources. When you are stressed, you have both physical and mental reactions that can last minutes or years. The source of stress may be in the past or the present or you may anticipate that they'll occur in the future. They may be situations everyone considers stressful, such as losing a job or a loved one, or they may be situations that you consider stressful but your neighbor would look forward to, such as acting in a play or flying in a plane.

So what can you do? You can learn how to handle your reactions to the stresses in your life.

Coping with Stress

Stress is a part of life. From being stuck in traffic to falling behind on paying bills, too much stress can wreak havoc on our bodies. Research on how stress causes medical illness is still in its early phases. We do know though that stress can cause physical symptoms, and may increase the rate of progression of a disease. Here are some ways to reduce your stress.

Adjust your attitude. According to researchers, you can better cope with stress by focusing on three ideas: challenge, control and commitment. Try to interpret stressful situations as challenges, not as threats.

  • Determine what you can control; sometimes the only thing you will be able to control in a stressful situation is the way you respond, but that's a start.
  • Make a commitment to be good to yourself by eating healthfully, thinking positively and maintaining relationships with people you care about.

Learn to problem solve. The key, say experts, is to think through difficult situations systematically. Break problems into smaller pieces to make them less overwhelming.

  • Focus on problems that really need your attention; leave the rest
  • Know your limits
  • Learn to be flexible
  • Be realistic about your choices

Communicate. Keeping your troubles inside only adds to stress. Find someone safe to talk to about your worries; it will reduce stress and help you deal with practical problems. If you have a chronic medical condition, participate in a support group.

Exercise. Regular exercise reduces stress. It helps protect the cardiovascular and immune systems from the consequences of stressful events. Whether it's swimming, walking or another form of exercise, find time to do the activity on a regular basis.

Take control of your diet and your sleep. It's hard to do, but if you eat a well-balanced, nutritious diet and get a good night's sleep, you'll have more energy to cope with stress.

Do something for others. Volunteering for a worthy cause can be a great experience. It also can help you forget about your own problems and increase your self-esteem.


Reference AETNA website, Living Well

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