Thursday, November 01, 2007

Health & Wellness: Stress Management

From the Grace Church Health and Wellness Committee, November 2007

Your doctor and/or mental health practitioner is the best source of information about how stress may be affecting your health.

Stressful Life Events: As September’s discussion of different forms of exercise revealed, some forms of stress can actually be beneficial to our health. Just as some levels or intensities of physical exercise can be excessively stressful to some of us and not stressful enough for others of us, so too are the effects of the same life events a matter of individual differences in their effects on our mental and physical health. With the exception of pain and disease, the majority of life events that we face are only stressful to us as a consequence of how we interpret or categorize them. For some of us promotions at work, birth of a child, purchasing a new home or relocating to a new city may be seen as positive stressors and adding anticipation and excitement to life. To others the same life events may be viewed with dread and anxiety because these same life events cause us to adopt new behaviors, systems, habits and approaches to life and are thus associated with confrontation, frustration and sorrow.

Our goal here is not to eliminate stress but to learn how to manage it and how to use it to help us. Not having enough stress can leave us feeling bored. Conversely, excessive and unrelieved stress may leave us feeling overwhelmed, sleeping poorly and may even predispose us to having a heart attack. Our challenge is to find the optimal level of stress which will individually motivate but not overwhelm each of us.

Stress: Its many sources and some management strategies - Life events and our associations to them come in an infinite variety. Effective management of our exposure to and interpretation of these live events is essential if we are to avoid the harmful psychological and physical effects of excessive and unrelieved stress. However, all effective stress management strategies require work toward change: changing the source of stress and/or changing our reaction to it.

  • · Become aware of your personal stressful life events and your emotional and physical reactions to them.
  • · Pray early and often (e.g., "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.")
  • · Learn and practice moderating your emotional and physical reactions to stress.
  • · Exercise regularly, eat in moderation and maintain your ideal weight.
  • · Limit the responsibilities you take on particularly during holiday seasons that are already overloaded with your own expectations and the expectations of others.
  • · Develop and maintain mutually supportive friendships.

Should you have concerns or want additional information about the material presented above, please contact your local health care provider, public health department, mental health center or someone on the Grace Church Health and Wellness Ministry Committee. This Committee is chaired by Mrs. Florence Poyer, R.N.

Prepared by: Walter S. Handy, Ph.D.. Member, Grace Church Health and Wellness Ministry Committee

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