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Introduction to Stress Management

Stress can be a good thing. In small or moderate amounts, stress can energize and motivate you to be productive and get more done in a shorter period. But too much stress or chronic levels of stress, or an exaggerated response to lesser amounts of stress, can cause serious medical and emotional problems.

We all face stress in our lives, and it comes at us every day from multiple directions, including in our relationships, at work, from family, and from external events. What is extremely stressful to one person may not cause any stress in another. Some people develop a generalized anxiety condition that causes them to worry constantly about many things. Panic attacks can happen out of the blue, with sudden and inexplicable fear and symptoms of severe acute anxiety.

Anxiety often is a result of stress — it is a feeling of apprehension or fear, and it may not always be clear where the fear is coming from. But anxiety is usually a clear manifestation of stress, and the symptoms of stress are mostly those of the anxiety.

Examples of stress symptoms include twitching or trembling, headaches, sweating, dry mouth and difficulty swallowing, and abdominal pain. In the presence of more severe anxiety, dizziness, rapid or irregular heart beats, rapid breathing, diarrhea, irritability, loss of temper, difficulty sleeping, poor concentration, and impotence or loss of interest in sex may occur.

Some of the most common major life events that cause severe stress include:

  • Death, divorce, or reconciliation with your spouse
  • Marriage
  • Injury or Illness
  • Termination and unemployment
  • Retirement
  • Arrest and conviction
  • Death of a family member or close friend

Most of us do not have an anxiety-stress or panic disorder. Rather, we face stress in our lives that we can and should manage. By adopting a positive attitude, learning healthier ways to cope, and changing the way we deal with stress, we can reduce its hold on our lives.  /p>

Your ability to handle and bounce back from stress depends on many factors, including a:

  • Sense of control
  • Optimistic attitude
  • Strong support system
  • Healthy body
  • Ability to adapt to change

First steps in managing stress can be to identify the source and remove it or figure out how to adapt to it. Sometimes, just talking with a friend or loved one about your stress is enough to relieve it.

Read through the tips and tricks for more specific ideas on what you can do to identify, remove, alter, or adapt to the stresses in your life.