Feel Well

Find transformation on the journey toward well-being

Recognizing Stress

Key Points in Identifying Stress

  • Stress is a physical and emotional response to a situation. The situation may be positive, like a new baby or a job promotion. Or it can be negative, like a traffic jam or a fight with your teenager. Your body actually doesn't know the difference, it just knows that something is happening and it should get ready to respond.
  • When the body perceives stress, it responds by sending out a flood of hormones. These hormones prepare the body to do what is required to adapt and survive.
  • Acute stress that comes from brief situations like being stuck in a traffic jam.
  • Chronic stress comes from situations that do not have a quick resolution and may last months or years. Examples of chronic stress are unemployment or caregiving for a disabled loved one.
  • When the body experiences too much stress or it lasts too long without time to rest and restore, our health may suffer. Health affects linked to stress include risk of insomnia, digestive complaints, depression, heart disease and other conditions.
  • We each respond to stress differently. Some may clench their teeth, others will yell and others may withdraw. It's important to recognize how you respond so you can identify when you're stressed as early as possible.
  • We can't avoid stress, and others can't manage our stress for us. We have to make the choice to learn and practice stress solutions that enable us to LiVe Well regardless of the situations that come our way.

Your Stress Toolbox

  • Recognize your personal signs of stress as early as possible:
  • Identify the sources of your stress. These may be from acute or chronic situations or a combination of both.
  • Create a Toolbox of Stress Solutions. Just like a well-stocked toolbox that can take care of any problem, our stress solution toolbox should contain a variety of tools that we can pull out and use with stressful situations.

What a good toolbox should include:

  1. Self-awareness. A valuable tool is to be self-aware of how you are currently managing stress. Ask yourself: What I do well today to cope? What don't I do so well? What do I need to learn to do better? You can also ask others close to you to give you feedback.
  2. Self-Care. There are basic daily activities that prepare us to cope well with daily stress. These include eating regular, healthy meals, exercising, getting enough sleep, having time to think and relax, and learning positive self-talk. You may have other activities that are crucial to your self-care like spirituality and hobbies.
  3. Skills. There are basic life skills that we can learn and practice that can significantly improve our ability to deal with stress. Examples of these skills include managing money to not be in debit, managing time to meet your highest priorities, dealing with conflict at home and at work so that you can have positive, healthy relationships and having a sense of humor.
  4. Social Support. Essential in the stress solution toolbox are friends that you can rely on and who inspire you to be your best self. You can count on them to be there when you are having a difficult time and they will listen to you as you sort out life's challenges.
  5. Know when to get help. There are times when we need to seek out professional help such as a physician or a counselor. This isn't a sign of weakness, but rather an acceptance that we need to learn new things when confronted with unfamiliar circumstances.