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5 ways to deal with stress
Posted: October 7, 2009
Last Updated: October 7, 2009

Every day life can be easy when broken down into its simplest form: sleep, wake up, eat, sleep again, but fill in all the little details like soccer practice, work, cooking, cleaning, family gatherings, bills, and parenting…and life gets much more complex. The end result of our hectic lifestyles is stress. Stress is difficult to define because it means different things to different people; however it’s clear that most stress is negative in nature than positive.


You may feel physical stress, which is the result of too much to do, not enough sleep, a poor diet or the effects of an illness. Stress can also be mental: when you worry about money, a loved one’s illness, retirement, or experience an emotionally devastating event, such as the death of a spouse or being fired from work.


Though much of our stress comes from less dramatic everyday events, obligations and pressures that are both physical and mental are not always obvious to us. Your body automatically increases blood pressure, heart rate, respiration, metabolism, and blood flow to your muscles in response to this daily stress. This response is intended to help your body react quickly and effectively to a high-pressure situation: the flight or fight response which sadly doesn’t cope with modern life very effectively.


However, when you are constantly reacting to stressful situations with the flight or fight response without making adjustments to counter the effects, you will feel stress that can threaten your health and well-being.


It is essential to understand that external events, no matter how you perceive those events, may cause stress. Stress often accompanies the feeling of “being out of control.”


This ‘out of control’ feeling can affect people differently, too. Some people actually seek out situations that may appear stressful to others like parachuting or bungee jumping. A major life decision, such as changing careers or buying a house, might be overwhelming for some people, while others may welcome the change. Some find sitting in traffic too much to tolerate, while others take it in stride. The key is determining your personal tolerance levels for stressful situations. Too much stress can cause relatively minor illnesses like insomnia, backaches, or headaches, and it can contribute to potentially life-threatening diseases like high blood pressure and heart disease.


When you feel out-of-control step back and evaluate what about the situation is the cause of the stress. These five tips might remedy the stressful situation:


Be realistic. If you feel overwhelmed by some activities (yours and/or your family’s), learn to say “NO.” It is difficult to say, but it can instantly eliminate overwhelming stress. Only take on activities that are absolutely necessary. If you meet resistance at your declaration, give reasons why you’re making the changes. Be willing to listen to other’s suggestions and be ready to compromise.


Shed the “superman/superwoman” urge. No one is perfect, so don’t expect perfection from yourself or others. Ask yourself: What really needs to be done? How much can I do? Is the deadline realistic? What adjustments can I make? Don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need it.


Take one thing at a time.  For people under stress, an ordinary workload can seem unbearable. The best way to cope with this feeling of being overwhelmed is to take one task at a time. Pick one urgent task and work on it one step at a time. Once you accomplish that task, choose the next one. The positive feeling of “checking off” tasks is very satisfying. It will motivate you to keep going.


Give in occasionally. If you find you’re meeting constant opposition in either your personal or professional life, rethink your position or strategy. Arguing only intensifies stressful feelings. Make allowances for other’s opinions and be prepared to compromise. If you are willing to give in, others may meet you halfway. Not only will you reduce your stress, you may find better solutions to your problems and a partner to share the burdens of the task.


Go easy with criticism. You may expect too much of yourself and others. Try not to feel frustrated, let down, disappointed or even “trapped” when another person does not measure up. The “other person” may be anyone (a wife, a husband, co-worker, friend or child). Remember, everyone is unique, and has his or her own virtues, shortcomings, and right to develop as an individual.


If you need more help dealing with stress call Border Area Mental Health Services. To reach Border Area Mental Health Services in Grant and Hidalgo Counties, call 388-4412; in Catron County, call 533-6649 for referral; in Luna County, call 546-2174.  For CRISIS, call 538-3488 or outside Silver City, call 1-800-426-0997.


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© 2008 by Border Area Mental Health Services and Putting the Web to Work. Front-page photo copyright by Bob Pelham, Pinos Altos Cabins, and used by permission. All rights reserved. For the privacy and comfort of our clients and staff, the photographs used in this site are representative and do not show specific individuals associated with BAMHS.