Everyone has stress. It’s a natural part of life and happens everyday. There’s no escaping it. What you can escape, however, are the harmful side effects of prolonged, extreme, and/or chronic stress.

First, let’s take a look at stress, what it is, how it impacts you, how to recognize it and then we’ll dive into ways to manage and alleviate it.

What is stress?
Wikipedia gives us a definition that points to the biology of stress:

“Stress is a person’s response to a stressor such as an environmental condition or a stimulus. Stress is a body’s way to react to a challenge. According to the stressful event, the body’s way to respond to stress is by sympathetic nervous system activation which results in the fight-or-flight response. Stress typically describes a negative condition or a positive condition that can have an impact on a person’s mental and physical well-being.”¹

While Psychology Today gives us a look at the psychological side of stress:

“Stress is simply a reaction to a stimulus that disturbs our physical or mental equilibrium. In other words, it’s an omnipresent part of life. A stressful event can trigger the “fight-or-flight” response, causing hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol to surge through the body. A little bit of stress, known as “acute stress,” can be exciting—it keeps us active and alert. But long-term, or “chronic stress,” can have detrimental effects on health. You may not be able to control the stressors in your world, but you can alter your reaction to them.”²

You might not need to look too far in your life to see where you have stressors, both physical and mental. If you’re like most people, they’re scattered throughout your life in every area. In fact, you’ve probably become so accustomed to some forms of stress that you’re not even aware of them any more.

This can be a bit dangerous if you’re seriously over-stressed and unaware because you won’t be able to take the steps you need to take to alleviate the symptoms.

What are the symptoms of stress?
How do you know if you’re not coping well with stress? Here are some signs courtesy of the Mayo Clinic³

… On your body
- Headache
- Muscle tension or pain
- Chest pain
- Fatigue
- Change in sex drive
- Stomach upset
- Sleep problems

… On your mood
- Anxiety
- Restlessness
- Lack of motivation or focus
- Irritability or anger
- Sadness or depression

… On your behavior
- Overeating or undereating
- Angry outbursts
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Tobacco use
- Social withdrawal

How do you relieve stress?

When you know you have a lot on your plate and you’re feeling it in your body and mind, or seeing it impact your behavior and mood, here are some steps you can take to help yourself alleviate the symptoms:

1. Meditate. This is one of the best ways to relax and its use is spreading. (Last week I released “The Inner Peace Workout” to help you do just that.)

2. Pamper and nurture yourself, whether it’s taking a warm bath, getting a massage, having a spa day or simply taking a nap.

3. Physical activity such as weight training, sports, walking, dance, and etc. Planned, conscious physical exertion and activity can release endorphins and other chemicals in your brain that make you feel better.

4. Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, conscious relaxation, and more.

5. Other physical movement such as Yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi and Qigong also help alleviate stress much the same way regular exercise does. These techniques add in mental and energy aspects that are like a moving meditation.

6. Work to change the things that bring you the most stress. There are some things you can change, like how many things you say “yes” to, and things you can’t, like rush-hour traffic. Learn to identify which stressors you can change in your life and which you can’t.

7. Adapt to stress by changing the way you react to the stressors. Part of this is realizing that you really only have control over yourself, your emotions and the way you deal with things. If you can’t control the traffic, then make a conscious choice to sit back and relax, take some deep breaths and listen to something you enjoy on the radio or a good book on CD.

8. Give yourself a break. Cut yourself some slack. Stop criticizing. Yes, it sounds simplistic but you’re not superhuman so take some of the pressure off. Treat yourself like you are your own best friend.

“Adopting the right attitude can turn a negative stress into a positive one.” – Hans Selye, considered by some to be the first to demonstrate the existence of biological stress.

In the end, it’s really up to you to take the steps you need to take to manage the stress in your life. When you understand that there’s always going to be stress, it’s easier to find ways to help yourself manage it. Do some more research, try different techniques, find out what your friends are doing to help themselves, form a group and do something together.

Above all, take some action, take charge of your stress and learn how to manage it today. You’ll thank yourself for it, your family and friends will also thank you. They love you and want to keep you around for a long time so don’t wait, don’t hesitate – do it!

What are you doing to manage your stress? To comment or download the new "Inner Peace Workout" go to my website listed below

1. Wikipedia: Stress (Biology) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stress_(biology)

2. Psychology Today: Stress – http://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/stress

3. The Mayo Clinic, Stress symptoms: Effects on your body, feelings and behavior – http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stress-symptoms/SR00008_D

Author's Bio: 

Peaceful Places by Gia Cilento
Gia is an intuitive coach and counselor, Reiki Master and Speaker. She uses her gifts and learning to help guide people through today’s fast-paced world, achieve true inner peace and regain appreciation and a zest for life.
She believes that peace begins within and will help guide you to create your own Peaceful Place with her coaching programs, meditations, inspirational writings, speaking and healing work.
Click here to schedule your Free Coaching call today.