What type of stresses do you typically encounter & how do you handle them?

stress and effectsHow many of you have ever noticed that during times of increased stress in your life, you tend to try to manage it yourself? Most of the time we are successful but when noting long-term behaviors and emotions such as, over-eating, drinking, smoking, apathy, anxiety and fatigue to name a few, we need to realize that stress is winning. Per the American Psychological Assoc., stress is any uncomfortable “emotional experience accompanied by predictable biochemical, physiological and behavioral changes.”

The American Psychological Association’s article, “Understanding Chronic Stress 2011,” goes on to say that “an extreme amount of stress can take a severe emotional toll. While most people can overcome minor episodes of stress by tapping into their body’s natural defenses to adapt to changing situations, excessive chronic stress, which is constant and persists over an extended period of time, can be psychologically and physically debilitating.”

Psychology Today posts that a “stressful event can trigger the ‘fight-or-flight’ response, causing hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol to surge through the body. A little bit of stress, known as “acute stress,” can be exciting—it keeps us active and alert. But long-term, or ‘chronic stress,’ can have detrimental effects on health. You may not be able to control the stressors in your world, but you can alter your reaction to them.”

Mind Tools featured blog on Dr Karl Albrecht PhD, (a management consultant and conference speaker based in California- a pioneer in the development of stress-reduction training for businesspeople) describes “4 common types of stress; 1)Time stress 2)Anticipatory stress 3)Situational stress and 4)Encounter stress.

Time stress, like it sounds, is stress related to worrying about deadlines and/or being late for example. Dr. Albrecht recommends using To-Do Lists, developing time management skills, learning to prioritize as well as re-structuring of your day to be more efficient.

Anticipatory Stress, as described by Dr. Albrecht, describes “stress that you experience concerning the future.” He states that Anticipatory stress can be “focused on a specific event such as an upcoming presentation or can be a vague and undefined, such as an overall sense of dread about the future.” Meditation and positive visualization techniques” are but a few of the ideas he recommends in dealing with this type of stress.

Situational Stress is stress generated by an event/situation you have no control over. Dr. Albrecht states this stress “commonly involves conflict, loss of status or acceptance in eyes of your group.” He gives examples of this, such as, “an emergency, being laid off or making a major mistake in front of a group.” He listed such solutions as “learning conflict resolution skills, learn how to think on your feet as well as learn how to manage your emotions/conflicts when under stress.”

Lastly, Dr. Albrecht describes Encounter stress, which commonly “occurs when one interacts with a certain person or group of people; ones you might not care for or that they’re unpredictable.” He also notes that t his type of stress also occurs from “contact overload:” when you feel overwhelmed or drained from interacting with too many people. He used the example of physicians and social workers as groups that are more typical of experiencing this. Dr. Albrecht recommended working on people skills, developing greater emotional intelligence, practicing deep breathing exercises as well as further developing one’s empathy skills.

The American Psychological Association’s “Understanding Chronic Stress 2011″ article noted a correlation between chronic stress and insomnia. They recommended going to bed at a regular time each night, striving for at least 7 to 8 hrs of sleep and eliminating distractions such as television, computers, phones from the bedroom. Chronic stress also contributes to anxiety and depression; both  contributors to the risk for heart disease. Additionally, they noted that people exposed to chronic stress are at a heightened risk of developing a drug addition. Untreated chronic stress can result in health conditions including anxiety, insomnia, muscle pain, high blood pressure and a weakened immune system. Research also shows that stress can contribute to the development of major illnesses or conditions such as heart disease, depression and obesity.”

For most people, stress is an ongoing part of their daily lives. The first step in managing one’s stress is to recognize it and attempt changing the precipitators/behaviors. We all have times in our lives where we feel run down and note that it takes all the energy we can muster, just to get through each day. Recognizing that we aren’t managing our stresses and which are impacting our daily routines, its time to seek out help. The APA recommends “reaching out to a trusted person to help work through your stressors, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and getting recommended sleep. In addition, they recommended possibly  contacting a health professional, such as a psychologist, who can help you identify your stressors or situations causing your stress, as well as help you in making necessary lifestyle changes.”

LINK to Psychology Today and information on stress




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