How harmful is stress?


Stress isn’t just a catchall complaint; it’s being linked to heart disease, immune deficiency and memory loss. We’re learning that men and women process stress differently and that childhood stress can lead to adult health problems. The worst part is, we inflict it on ourselves.

Granted, stress can be deadly and none of us escapes it, but that doesn’t mean we’re all doomed. Living a stress-free life is not a reasonable goal. A more realistic goal is to deal with it proactively and effectively. Though that’s easier for some people than others, studies suggest that anyone can learn to cope better. When stress occurs, it is important to recognize and deal with it directly. 

The best strategy for avoiding stress is actually learning how to effectively relax. Unfortunately, many people try to relax at the same pace that they lead the rest of their lives. For a while, tune out your worries about time, productivity, and “always doing it right.” You will find satisfaction in “just being”, without striving. Reengage with activities that have given you pleasure in the past or challenge yourself to try some totally new experiences that are good for your mental and physical well-being. Forget about always winning. Focus on relaxation, enjoyment, health, and your connection to others. If the stress in your life continues to seem insurmountable, you may find it beneficial to see a psychotherapist for help in developing a comprehensive strategy for your specific situation

Are you feeling unable to cope with everyday stressors and challenges?

A technique known as “Positive Self Talk” is one of the ways that you can make a difference. Positive self talk is a way of countering the insulting, demeaning, paranoid or hateful things we tell ourselves about ourselves. Positive self talk is complementing ourselves when we've done our best, using our own personal progress as the yardstick by which to measure our success (not someone else's). It is also a “serendipity” technique; that is, for each negative message you aim at yourself, (such as “I'm worthless, I never do anything right”), remind yourself of things you do pretty well. For example, this might be your talent for doing crosswords, and your ability to hold up your end of a conversation, your organizational skills, or even your punctually. Whatever your abilities, use realistic positive self talk to remind yourself daily that you are a worthwhile person.

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