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Coping Strategies for Stress: The Consequences of Stress and How to Overcome Stress

I’d like you to imagine an adorable two year old. Now imagine that two year old poking your arm because she wants a cookie. Think to yourself, ‘it’s not so bad, she’ll stop soon,’ or something like that. The poking goes on and on for days. Then weeks. Then years.

Ridiculous, isn’t it? Most of us would manage the little darling’s behavior right away. Whether she got a cookie or a time out, I bet you wouldn’t just allow her to keep poking you!

Stress, like the terrible twos, can’t just be ignored. When you don’t take an active role in managing your stress, the hormones secreted in conjunction with the stress reaction never really subside. While the exact link between stress and illness isn’t always clear, we can say with confidence that stress is a factor in many common illnesses.

What are the consequences of stress and its impact on a body? The first things you might notice are the physical symptoms. You experience stomach aches, your shoulders are tight, or you have more migraine headaches. Perhaps you’re tired all the time, you have trouble sleeping, your appetite changes, or you’re just not as active as you used to be. You might even have unexplained pain.

Whether you are ‘marrying someone or burying someone’ your body interprets any change as stress. The goal is not to eliminate stress, but rather to develop coping strategies for stress manage and cope with the stress that is an inevitable part of life, and avoid stressors like toxic relationships and work environments. If you are having trouble with how to overcome stress or how to eliminate stress from your life, and you are already noticing the physical and emotional changes, it may be time to ask for help.

Some good resources are the Mayo Clinic’s guide to coping with work stress http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/coping-with-stress/SR00030 and the Centers for Disease Control’s guide to coping with stress due to violence and injury http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pub/coping_with_stress_tips.html.

Dr. Kate Walker Ph.D. is owner and CEO of achievebalance.org found in The Woodlands TX. 

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