Stress don’t let it pull you down

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- You might think of stress as something that attacks you, like a bee or a virus, but stress really is your body's reaction to difficult situations or events.

Every day carries all kinds of potential stress triggers and these may vary from person to person.

Common sources of stress include: work, personal finances, household responsibilities, school and social obligations. Life-changing events also frequently result in stress, some examples are: pregnancy, retirement, marriage or divorce, death of a loved one, child leaving for college or a new romance.

Stress doesn't have to be bad for you. It all depends on how you react to it. For example, when faced with a tight work deadline, you may react by creating a to-do-list and diving right in, or you may become confused, suffer headaches or become irritable. Good Stress results in positive reactions like finding a creative solution. Bad Stress, distress, results in negative reaction.

People respond to stress in any number of ways. The symptoms of bad stress can be grouped into three categories and include physical, psychological and behavioral. Examples of physical symptoms are high blood pressure, chest pain, skin rash, rapid heartbeat, musical tightness in back or neck, weakened immune system, ulcers, trembling, headaches or migraines. Psychological symptoms include depression, anxiety attacks, disturbing thoughts or images, inability to concentrate and mood swings. Behavioral symptoms include weight loss or gain, crying, short temper, insomnia, social isolation, substance abuse, nail biting, sexual dysfunctions, rejections or responsibility.
You have more control over stress than you think. Because stress is all about your reactions to the world, you can take steps to minimize it. Think about things you find stressful and how you could react to them. Why are they stressful? Are there other ways you could react? Do you have an "all or nothing" attitude about your stress triggers? Do you seek out help or look for ways to minimize stress?

Now that you're thinking about your stress, here are some things you can do to help minimize your stress. Get a good night's sleep. It's recommended that we get at least eight hours of good sleep if that's not possible, try to take 10-15 minute naps on your days off or on weekends. Avoid caffeine, alcohol and tobacco, particularly close to bed time.

Make sure your nutrition is well balanced with whole grain, fruits, vegetables, lean meats and reduce your fatty and salty in take. Exercise for 30-60 minutes several days per week. Physical exercise increases health, boosts the immune system and makes you feel good about yourself.

Find time for the things you enjoy like music, your pet or a hobby. Laughter increases your tolerance to pain, reduces adrenaline and can help lower blood pressure.

Spend time with friends and family making time for the important people in your life. Your loved ones can help lift your spirits when you are feeling down.

Finally, learn some stress relief techniques. One good technique includes deep breathing; this exercise gets more oxygen into your lungs and helps your muscle relax. Another exercise is the muscle tightening and relaxing technique. You can do this by clenching your fists as hard as you can and hold them clenched for 5-10 seconds, and then relax your fists. In addition, meditation can be done, and it can help clear and focus the mind and relax the body.

If many different things cause stress for you, choose one to deal with first. Once you have a handle on it, move on to the next one. Your goal is to deal with stress in a positive and healthy way so you can control stress and not let it control you.

For more information contact Mental Health at 452-8285 or the Health and Wellness Center at 452-7385.