Stress is one of the greatest causes of illness in our society today. It is possible that as much as 70% of all trips to the doctor can be attributed to stress. Stress is the great pretender, mimicking or contributing to nearly every ailment imaginable. In the interest of your own personal development, you need to be able to identify your sources of stress so you can control them.
In order to get control over your stress, something in your life must change. We all live with a certain degree of stress in our lives, but there is a point at which it becomes unmanageable, causing physical and mental illness.
Causes of stress can be broken down into internal and external stressors. External stressors are those things which we have no control over. Physical stressors can include a noisy environment, being overly hot or too cold, or feeling confined.
Major changes in your life can also cause stress, such as a lost job, the birth of a child, or a death in the family. Even that promotion you have been wanting will cause stress. Daily inconveniences create stress in our lives: rudeness of others, unreasonable rules at work or inefficient business practices, commuting, and deadlines.
Finally, you also have personally imposed stressors, such as a negative attitude, perfectionism, setting unrealistic expectations, self-criticism. As you can see, stress is hitting you from all angles.
Stress manifests itself in various ways, but there are three main categories where stress will begin to appear.
- Physical Manifestations: You may find that you are uncomfortable much of the time, suffering from headache, fatigue, sweating, or trembling. You may suffer from stomach cramps or nausea, or find you are always sick. The most serious physical effects include chest pains and heart palpitations, often mimicking the symptoms of a heart attack.
- Mental or Emotional Manifestations: Depression is probably the most common mental symptom of stress. More and more, people are seeking out treatment for depression when a few lifestyle changes might take care of the problem.
Other emotional or mental signs of stress include anxiety, frustration, irritability, indecisiveness, confusion, loss of humor, short temper, worry, nervousness, or a loss in concentration or memory.
- Behavioral: Any sudden change in behavior should be a signal that something is wrong. Some of the behaviors that may appear as a result of stress include crying, yelling, throwing things, smoking, drinking, eating, pacing, or other nervous behaviors such as nail biting.
- One of the simplest yet most effective ways to reduce stress is to eliminate caffeine from your diet.
- Elevated stress may cause weight gain so ensure you are eating a balanced diet and receiving plenty of exercise.
- The act of exercising greatly reduces the effects of stress on your body.
- Get enough sleep. Most adults do not get nearly enough sleep for the body to rejuvenate.
- Allow yourself leisure time to enjoy your hobbies like reading, sewing, or music.
- Try meditating or deep-breathing exercises.
- Allow yourself to have leisure time. Completely remove yourself from your environment, either for a few hours or for a real vacation.
Once you realize what is causing stress in your life, you can implement measures to control it. Controlling stress is not only important for your overall happiness and well-being, but for your health as well. Many serious diseases such as cancer are being linked more closely with stress, and scientists are finding new ways every day that stress impacts our lives. Do not let stress get in the way of your own personal development.
The most important thing to keep in mind, though, is that stress is mostly self inflicted. This means you have the means within yourself, and in your life, to counteract the effects of stress or to remove it altogether.