Stress is all around us

In today's world, stress has become unavoidable. The more connected we become, the more productive we become, the more pressure builds on us to do more and multitask. A certain amount of stress is healthy, but there are ways to avoid letting an unhealthy amount of stress take over your life.

Stress, in its natural state, is a healthy sense of urgency. Sometimes it is necessary. Its your body's way of processing something that needs your attention. Whether it is a looming deadline or an impending danger, the physical reactions to stress are much the same. When stress goes beyond the initial alarm state that helps motivate you to solutions, and moves into a chronic state, it no longer serves its healthy purpose, and a constant state of stress in the body is not only detrimental to solving problems, but it can have severe negative effects on one's physical health. 

1. Identify the cause

Stress can be caused by nearly everything one encounters in life. Most identify stress with negative events; however, stress can also be brought on by positive events, especially if they cause drastic changes in one's life. 

When you begin to identify the signs of stress in your body, take a moment to identify exactly what the cause is. Many times, there will be more than one cause; often major stress is the result of mutliple minor issues causing a cumulative effect. Sometimes, one may be feeling stressed without knowing exactly why they are feeling that way. Times like this, it is best to take a break, even for just a few minutes, to sit quietly, without distractions, and just reflect on what is currently going on in your life. What has been on your mind a lot? What problems are you currently facing? What events are upcoming? When you identify the specific causes of your stressful feelings - and often it will be more than one cause - then you can work on resolving the issues.

2. What can you do about it right now?

A lot of day to day stress relates to things we have no control over. When feeling overwhelmed, it helps to list what is bothering us, and begin to think of solutions. What can be done now? Often, there is nothing that can be done right in this moment to resolve the issue, but if you begin to problem solve, even on paper, it can set your mind at ease. For example, if you are worried about an upcoming deadline that you are unprepared for, set up a list of what needs to be done for you to be successful. Worried about a bill that you aren't sure you can pay? Make a list of options, such as payment arrangements, odd jobs or borrowing to pay the bill. Are you stressed about family members not getting along? List how it affects you and what you can do to help resolve the issue. Brainstorming a game plan for dealing with problems can go a long way toward setting your mind at ease. You may not come up with a specific solution you seek, but the fact that you have set aside time to think about the problem, knowing that you have put effort into solving it, can soothe some worries. 

3. Relax your body

Stress can be a vicious cycle. Worries in the mind can cause tension in the body; tension in the body can make it more difficult to concentrate on problems that need to be solved. The more the mind is stressed, the more the body is stressed. The more the body is stressed, the less efficient your mind becomes. This is unhealthy for both the mind and the body. 

Taking time to relax your body is very important. There are many relaxation methods available for self care. Yoga is excellent for both mind and body, and there are yoga routines for every skill and fitness level. Tai Chi is also a good way to relax the mind while strengthening the body. Meditation and guided imagery are very helpful for stress relief, as well as many of the physical issues that may accompany stress, such as insomnia and headaches. Many of these things can be found online for free or very low cost. Massage can be a tremendous help in relaxing the body as well, but one must know how to maintain that relaxed feeling after the massage has loosened the muscles. 

4. Talk it out

Sometimes the best way to relieve stress is just to talk it out. Spend time with a friend or family member you trust. Talk it out. Bounce ideas off the other person and solicit their suggestions. Sometimes just talking to someone else can help your mind process the problems and find the solutions.  Even if you aren't able to come up with solutions, you may feel better just getting it off your chest. 

5. Get organized

One of the best ways to beat stress is to be prepared for it. Identify which areas of your life cause the most stress and prepare and plan accordingly. Set up routines and schedules, enlist help of family members. Organize your budget. Plan for problems before they happen and anticipate that there will always be unforseen circumstances. When encountering problems, try to look at them logically rather than emotionally. 

Stress is inevitable

There is no way to completely defeat stress, and, in fact, without any stress, we would not be effective as human beings. The important thing is to control the stress rather than the stress controlling you. Solve what you can solve and accept what you cannot change. Let go of worry whenever possible. And most of all, try to take time to relax every day, no matter what obstacles are facing your life.