2019 Learn to Cope With Stress

By Dr Cita Maloon-Gibson, EmpowermentDOC™
Stress is a part of life and it can be categorized as good or bad. It is neither positive nor negative and can be internal or external. The Stressors of life may be beyond our control as stressors are a part of life. There are various stages of stress that triggers the body and various causes of stress. Stress can become distress and effects the way we process stress mentally and physically—is it all in your head? You can learn to cope with stress is my resolve.
Stress is defined according to the American Institute of Stress:
“Stress is not a useful term for scientists because it is such a highly subjective phenomenon that it defies definition. And if you can't define stress, how can you possibly measure it? The term "stress", as it is currently used was coined by Hans Selye in 1936, who defined it as "the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change". Selye had noted in numerous experiments that laboratory animals subjected to acute but different noxious physical and emotional stimuli (blaring light, deafening noise, extremes of heat or cold, perpetual frustration) all exhibited the same pathologic changes of stomach ulcerations, shrinkage of lymphoid tissue and enlargement of the adrenals. He later demonstrated that persistent stress could cause these animals to develop various diseases similar to those seen in humans, such as heart attacks, stroke, kidney disease and rheumatoid arthritis. At the time, it was believed that most diseases were caused by specific but different pathogens. Tuberculosis was due to the tubercle bacillus, anthrax by the anthrax bacillus, syphilis by a spirochete, etc. What Selye proposed was just the opposite, namely that many different insults could cause the same disease, not only in animals, but in humans as well. “(Retrieved from http://www.stress.org/topic-definition-stress.htm).
“Sometimes after experiencing a traumatic event that is especially frightening—including personal or environmental disasters, or being threatened with an assault—people have a strong and lingering reaction to stress. Getting the right care and support can put problems in perspective and help stressful feelings and symptoms subside. Stress is an inevitable part of life that everyone - adults, teens, and even children - experiences at times.” (Life Skills Education - 2008)
Stress can be beneficial by helping people develop the skills they need to cope with and adapt to new and potentially threatening situations throughout life. Strong emotions, jitters, and sadness or depression may all be part of this normal and temporary reaction to the stress of an overwhelming event. But when the symptoms of stress are intense or last too long, it can cause people to feel overwhelmed and have an effect on their ability to cope.” Common reactions to a stressful event can include:
• Disbelief and shock
• Fear and anxiety about the future
• Difficulty making decisions
• Apathy and emotional numbing
• Loss of appetite
• Nightmares and reoccurring thoughts about the event
• Anger
• Increased use of alcohol and drugs
• Sadness and depression
• Feeling powerless
• Crying
• Sleep difficulties
• Headaches, back pains, and stomach problems
• Difficulty concentrating
Feeling emotional and nervous or having trouble sleeping and eating can all be normal reactions to stress. Getting the right care and support can put problems in perspective and help stressful feelings and symptoms subside in a few days or weeks. (Retrieved February 28, 2010 from http://www.cdc.gov/Features/HandlingStress/)

Most individuals associate stress with the causative factors of stress. Most times with something traumatic as the death of a loved, which is something I recently experienced with the lost of my Mother. Also, stress is associated by others with difficulties in the family unit and other personal issues in relationships; such as loss of employment, or even the acquisition of a new position as many people are experiencing today in the unstable economy. For this reason I chose to focus this research paper on the Effect of Traumatic Stress. Recently, the world has been face with “traumatic stress” that is the effects of the natural disasters, senseless killings and " terrorist attacks." If you watch the news, that alone can mentally and emotionally inflict traumatic stress. In previous years, disgruntled employees and anti-government individuals acted out their form of stress by crashing a plane in a federal building and crazily shooting at the nation’s Pentagon building. Most people that went to work didn’t know that at the end of the day they would be another statistic of experiencing traumatic stress. Not only that, but the idea that they would have to be counseled for Stress associated with Workforce Violence. It tells me that becoming a Mental Health Professional is something that is greatly needed in our society. So, my focus is on Traumatic Stress and how to identify it and coping with it in today’s turmoil society. If it hasn’t happen to you, just keep on living it’s coming your way and it does not discriminate. As my mother often quote, it rains on the just and the unjust, so get out your umbrella and be ready for when it comes your way.

The Effect of Traumatic Stress
What is Traumatic Stress Reaction?
People who experience or witness horrible events such as school shootings, combat, rape, torture, natural disasters, accidents or other things in which their physical safety and life -- or the safety and life of others -- was in danger have experienced a traumatic stress. People who are repeatedly exposed to life or death situations, such as EMT and rescue squad workers, police officers, fire fighters and medical personnel on burn wards or trauma units where stress levels and mortality rates are high also witness trauma. Anyone who has experienced these things has experienced a shock and, even if all ultimately escape danger, the people who lived through the event may feel like life "just isn't the same anymore." People may experience a variety of reactions, many of which are understandable in the context of experiencing or witnessing traumatic events such as the hurricanes. Experiencing physical or emotional symptoms in response to a traumatic event is normal and is called a traumatic stress reaction.

Physical Symptoms of Traumatic Stress
Anyone affected by the hurricanes or other traumatic stress may experience:
• Fatigue
• Being easily startled
• Headaches
• Sweating
• Gastro-intestinal problems
Emotional Symptoms of Traumatic Stress
Those affected by traumatic stress may feel:
• Fear
• Anger
• Guilt
• Reduced awareness
• Feeling like you are numb or not part of the world
• Helplessness
• Hopelessness

What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD stands for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This is similar to a stress reaction and, in fact, many people who have experienced a traumatic event do develop PTSD. Those with PTSD may experience many of the same emotional and physical symptoms as those with a traumatic stress reaction. Those with PTSD, however, experience trauma along with intense fear, helplessness or horror and then develop intrusive symptoms (such as flashbacks or nightmares). Their symptoms will last more than a month and get in the way of normal life.
Analysis and Findings: Traumatic stress is not uncommon. In fact:
• About 70 % of U.S. adults have experienced a severe traumatic event at least once in their life and one out of five go on to develop symptoms of PTSD
• Approximately 8% of all adults have suffered from PTSD at any one time
• If you include children and teens, an estimated 5% of all Americans will develop PTSD during their lifetime or more than 13 million people
• About one in 10 women will develop PTSD symptoms during their lifetime or double the rate for men because they are much more likely to be victims of domestic violence, rape or abuse.
• Almost 17% of men and 13% of women have experienced more than three traumatic events during their life.
The Mind-Body Connection
Suffering traumatic stress can affect your emotions as well as your body and the two are so connected that it can be hard to tell the difference. For instance, traumatic stress can cause you to lose concentration, forget things, or have trouble sleeping. It may be difficult to determine on your own whether these symptoms are because you do not feel well physically or because you are still upset. Traumatic stress also can lead you to eat in unhealthy ways or to eat foods that are not healthy, and those eating patterns can affect how you sleep or how your stomach feels. Stress can cause headaches, but the pain from the headaches can also make your stress worsen. Because the body and the mind work in concert, traumatic stress can cause a cycle that makes it seem like the body and mind are working against one another, worsening symptoms like pain and fatigue.
Coping with traumatic Stress
There are things you can do to help yourself if you have suffered traumatic stress as a result of an event such as a school shooting.
• Give yourself time to heal. Anticipate that this will be a difficult time in your life. Allow yourself to mourn the losses you have experienced. Try to be patient with changes in your emotional state.
• Ask for support from people who care about you and who will listen and empathize with your situation. But keep in mind that your typical support system may be weakened if those who are close to you also have experienced or witnessed the trauma.
• Communicate your experience in whatever ways feel comfortable to you - such as by talking with family or close friends, or keeping a diary.
• Find out about local support groups that often are available such as for those who have suffered from natural disasters. These can be especially helpful for people with limited personal support systems.
• Try to find groups led by appropriately trained and experienced professionals such as psychologists. Group discussion can help people realize that other individuals in the same circumstances often have similar reactions and emotions.
• Engage in healthy behaviors to enhance your ability to cope with excessive stress. Eat well-balanced meals and get plenty of rest. If you experience ongoing difficulties with sleep, you may be able to find some relief through relaxation techniques. Avoid alcohol and drugs.
• Establish or reestablish routines such as eating meals at regular times and following an exercise program. This can be especially important when the normal routines of daily life are disrupted. Even if you are in a shelter and unable to return home, establish routines that can bring comfort. Take some time off from the demands of daily life by pursuing hobbies or other enjoyable activities.
• Help those you can. Helping others, even during your own time of distress, can give you a sense of control and can make you feel better about yourself.
• Avoid major life decisions such as switching careers or jobs if possible because these activities tend to be highly stressful.
When Should I Seek Professional Help?
As we know people can only be help if they acknowledge that they have a problem and then and only then can they begin the healing process. I know this for myself as I have experience various forms of stressors recently and throughout my twenty-nine years of military service to the nation. Many people are able to cope effectively with the emotional and physical demands brought about by a natural disaster by using their own support systems. It is not unusual, however, to find that serious problems persist and continue to interfere with daily living. For example, some may feel overwhelming nervousness or lingering sadness that adversely affects job performance and interpersonal relationships.
Individuals with prolonged reactions that disrupt their daily functioning should consult with a trained and experienced mental health professional. Psychologists and other appropriate mental health providers help educate people about common responses to extreme stress. These professionals work with individuals affected by trauma to help them find constructive ways of dealing with the emotional impact.
With children, continual and aggressive emotional outbursts, serious problems at school, preoccupation with the traumatic event, continued and extreme withdrawal, and other signs of intense anxiety or emotional difficulties all point to the need for professional assistance. A qualified mental health professional such as a psychologist can help such children and their parents understand and deal with thoughts, feelings and behaviors that result from trauma. (Paul J. Rosch, M.D. President, The American Institute of Stress, the American Psychological Association)
Summary and Conclusion:
Stress is a part of life and it can be categorized as good or bad. It is neither positive nor negative and can be internal or external. The Stressors of life may be beyond our control as stressors are a part of life. There are various stages of stress that triggers the body and various causes of stress. Stress can become distress and effects the way we process stress mentally and physically—is it all in your head? You can learn to cope with stress is my resolve. I believe that I proved my point in this brief synopsis of a very complex condition that is associated with many, many, stressors of life especial in today’s society that is perplex with changes and stressor in our world and environment today. It is a condition at will be associated to many mental health issues in the treatment of clients

References Cited:
American Institute of Stress, Stress, Definition of Stress, Stressor, What is Stress? Eustress? 124 Park Avenue, Yonkers, NY 10703
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Coping with Stress. 1600 Clifton Rd. Atlanta, GA 30333, USA.
American Psychological Association (2010), 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC: Author, Rosch, Paul J., MD, President, The American Institute of Stress.
Life Skills Education, (2008) An Introduction to Stress Prepared for McConnell, AFB Family Support Center, and 314 Washington Street Northfield, MN.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Amicitia (Cita) Maloon-Gibson is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of ATIC MG Center for Excellence, a non-profit organization, dedicated and committed to improving the quality of education, community services and resources to at-risk-youth and their family unit. The organization provides community development services to disenfranchised populations in the areas of academics, mentoring, scholarships, leadership development, and life skills. The for profit entity is MGAA Professional Development Institute providing workshops, seminars, keynotes and products for growing and empowering future leaders.

She is a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel, with honorable and distinguished service to the nation. She served during Desert Storm/Desert Shield, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom as Regimental Affiliation with Engineers. She is a Drury University and Webster University Alumni, Army Management Staff College Alumni, and holds a professional HR Certificate from Cornell University. Doctorate in Social Psychology and Honorary Doctorate in Ministry.

She is a published Author; with her most recent best seller release of “Stepping Stones to Success”, co- authored with other platinum authors and speakers. Also, "Growing and Empowering Future Leaders Now." She serves as Advisory Board Member for Orlando Florida Diversity Council and Professional Woman Network and Professional Woman Network and International Consulting and Coaching Organization. She is the Past Vice-President of General Daniel “Chappie” James Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen Inc, FL., to name a few. She is a Florida Supreme Court County Mediator. She is a National Speakers Association Member & American Buisness Woman Association Active Member.

She is actively engaged in community leadership and church activities growing and empowering future leaders to become successful. She is a Professional Speaker and seminar presenter for corporate and ministry events. She is married and has two children. For additional information visit
http://EmpowermentDoc.com and www.inspireleadgrow.com