It seems as if it is next to impossible not to be stressed in today’s world. With the state of the economy, plummeting valuation of our investment portfolios and job loss, most of us do not have to think too hard for a reason to be stressed. Stress is simply a fact of nature—forces from the outside world affecting the individual. Although we normally associate stress with negative events, stress comes from both the negative and the positive things that happen to us.
Stress becomes a problem when we are not sure how to handle an event or a situation. Then worry sets in, and we feel "stressed." Our reaction to stress can affect our mental and physical health; so it is important for us to learn how to deal effectively with stress as it occurs. When we find an event stressful, our bodies undergoes a series of changes, called the stress response. There are three stages to this response. First our bodies’ releases adrenaline, which makes our hearts beat faster, and we start to breathe more quickly. Then our bodies’ begins to release stored sugars and fats from its resources. At this stage, you will feel driven, pressured and tired. As a result, the body's need for energy will become greater than its ability to produce it, and we will become chronically stressed.
As mentioned before, stress can be damaging to our physical and emotional health. When we are stressed we may experience insomnia, depression, errors in judgment, and personality changes. We may also develop a serious sickness, such as heart disease, ulcers, mental illness, gastrointestinal diseases, some cancers, and even the process of aging itself. Stress also seems to increase the frequency and severity of migraine headaches, episodes of asthma, and fluctuations of blood sugar in diabetics. Since the stress response prepares us to fight or flee, our bodies are primed for action. Unfortunately, however, we usually handle our stresses while sitting at our desk, standing at the water cooler, or behind the wheel stuck in traffic.
Exercise and proper nutrition are essential when it comes to managing stress. Exercise on a regular basis helps to turn down the production of stress hormones and neurochemicals. Thus, exercise can help avoid the damage to our health that prolonged stress can cause. In fact, studies have found that exercise is a potent antidepressant, anxiolytic (combats anxiety), and sleeping aid for many people. Thus, one or two 20-30 minute meditation sessions a day can have lasting beneficial effects on health. Elimination of drug use and no more than moderate alcohol use are important for the successful management of stress. Take a lunch break and don't talk about work. Take a walk instead of a coffee break. Use weekends to relax, and don't schedule so many events that Monday morning will seem like a relief. Learn your stress signals. Take regular vacations or even long weekends or mental-health days at intervals that you have learned are right for you. Lastly, if stress comes from your investment portfolio one of the coping mechanism that can be used is to consider the market from a historical perspective.
About the Author
Neil Lecky is a Life Insurance Advisor, Group Employee Benefit Specialist and an Investment Funds Advisor with Alliance Financial Group. He is also a Branch Manager and Investment Funds Advisor with Investia Financial Services Inc., a mutual fund dealer.