Thursday, October 15, 2009

Signs of Stress and How to Cope

I don't think that people really understand what's going on when they get so stressed that they feel they can't stand it any longer. Work related stress is very serious and can be very detrimental to your health.

My Dad was under a lot of stress about three years ago; I don't think he even realized how big of a tole it was taking on his body. In fact, it got so bad that he ended up checking himself into a hospital which ended in him being flown by helicopter to a larger hospital. We were told to prepare for the worst. My heart sunk; I couldn't lose him, I simply couldn't. The doctor came out later to inform us that my Dad had a heart attack when he first got to the hospital and that they were doing everything they could for him. He also told us later that his heart attack had been caused by stress.

“Stress?” The thought didn't just come to me, it hit me like a load of bricks. “Could stress really be so powerful that it could take away my Dad?” From that moment on, I realized what a powerful enemy stress can be. My Dad survived and is still working for the same company but he is a lot more careful about managing his stress levels now.

Here are some things that could have helped my Dad that could very likely help you before it's too late.

Know when you've reached your limit

There's only so much stress that one person can handle. You need to pay attention so you know the warning signs your body gives you before you reach the limit. Stress comes to all of us in different ways. It could come as anxiety, shortness of breath, slurred speech, drowsiness, and fatigue, among many other signs of stress.

If you experience these symptoms for a prolonged period of time it has been suggested that you seek medical help. In some communities there are free stress management courses.

Stop stressing over things you have no control over

The human body has enough things to stress over without you having to give it more. My sister used to recite a poem to me every time I would get stressed out over something trivial that I really couldn't change. I'm not sure where it originated but she got it from a co-worker of hers many years ago. It reads:

For every worry under the sun,
there is a remedy or there is none.
If there is one, hurry and find it
if there is none, never mind it.

If you're stressing over things that aren't your responsibility or anything you don't have direct control over then STOP! You don't deserve to have to stress over everyone else's jobs and lives.

Time management, organize your work according to priorities

Organization and time management are often key to stress relief. There have been some days when I have made a list and then numbered the items according to priority. I then get to work taking on the tasks one by one until they are all crossed out and defeated.

Exercise Your Way Out of Stress

Have you ever had that urge to run and not stop for miles. For some people, running, playing sports or any other kind of physical exercise is a natural stress reliever. If you're in a condition to exercise I would suggest trying this. Even going for a walk in a safe neighborhood can help release stress.

Serve Someone Else

Look around you and find someone who has circumstances worse than your own or who is having a bad day (there's always going to be someone) and do something nice for them. Serving others has been proven to reduce personal stress levels. I have also read about people volunteering once a month with their family at a soup kitchen or something similar. There are always people around you who need to be served. All you have to do is look around.

I remember one particular day when I was over-stressed; I was reaching my limit and I could tell I was about to come to my wits end. Off to the side of the road was an older woman trying desperately to clean up some sticks and bark before the rain came. I'm not sure why I stopped, but I did. I started helping her and, as we raked, we began to talk. She managed to reduce my stress by helping me solve my problems. My stress seemed to be raked away with the rest of the debris which had accumulated in Beth's yard.

Try some of these techniques, they may save your life one day.

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