Less Stress for Better Health

Fast food, fast cars, fast living. Today everyone has more work, more demands and less time in their lives for balance. The American Institute of Stress determined that stress-related illness costs the American economy $100 billion per year. As a result stress has passed the common cold as the most widespread health problem in the United States.

With too much to do, and so little time to do it, how can we manage to lessen the load and lessen the stress? This seems like an impossible task; yet, not taking the time to take care of ourselves can lead to stress overload and eventual burn out!

What is Stress?

Stress can be defined as what happens to the body when it is knocked out of its equilibrium. Yet, not all stress is negative. In fact, there are two types of stress — stress, which is positive and distress, which is negative. Positive stress may be associated with weddings, promotions, or taking a European vacation. Distress is usually related to our negative experiences or situations like work overload or a fight with a spouse.

Identifying the Signs of Stress

Distress can cause many physical and emotional reactions. Some of the symptoms can include: headaches, weight gain, dizzy spells, backaches, food cravings, lack of sexual interest and emotional outbursts. Pay attention to your body and how it reacts to stressful situations.

Reducing Your Stress

Now that you are aware of the distress in your life, what can you do to lessen it?

Avoid negative self-talk. Become aware of how you react to situations. For example, when you are up against a tight deadline do you say, �I�m never going to finish this project! What am I going to do?� Instead you can say, �I am a good problem solver, and I�ll do an excellent job with this project.� Saying something positive to yourself can make a world of difference.

Take control of your emotions. How many times do you say, �you hurt my feelings� or �you really made me mad� to someone? You probably use phrases like these often. Try a new perspective. People can�t “make” you feel bad, mad or angry. You react and tell yourself how to feel. Next time someone says something that bothers you, try saying, �Because of what you said, I have now made myself very upset.� You can�t always control the situation causing stress, but you can control the way you react to it.

Do away with lengthy task lists. Forgive yourself when you don�t accomplish everything on your list and don�t make a task list that is impossible to complete.

Toss the �shoulds.� Get rid of the unrealistic “shoulds� like, I should be happy, I should do everything perfectly, and people should treat me the way I treat them. This is pure punishment. If you have realistic �shoulds� that come from you, turn them into goals.

Stress Test: True or False

How much do you know about stress?

  1. There are two types of stress, positive and negative.
  2. The common cold is the most widespread health problem in the United States.
  3. Stress can lead to many physical reactions such as headaches, weight gain, or dizziness.
  4. It�s the large stressors that have the greatest impact on most people.
  5. You can control the way you react to a situation.

If you want to work toward a healthier lifestyle, you don’t have to do it alone. Simi Valley Hospital can help. Please call our us at (805) 955-6890 to find out about our free and low-cost health classes. We can also help you find a physician; just call Referral Services at (805) 955-6900.

Note: This is for information purposes only and not intended for use in place of the advice of a physician.

Brochure sources: Less Stress For Success by Sara Zeff Gerber and Attacking Anxiety by the Midwest Center For Stress and Anxiety.

Answers: 1. [T] 2. [F] 3. [T] 4. [F] 5. [T]