How often do you experience a pounding headache, muscle tension or pain, or upset stomach? Have you noticed you have trouble sleeping at night even though you feel fatigued? Does your mind seem cloudy, foggy, or overwhelmed? Do you have an increased heart rate whenever you think or talk about a certain area of your life? Have you experienced a change in your sex drive?
What about your mood? Do you find yourself irritable or feeling unmotivated? Restless or anxious?
If even just a few of these describe you, it’s time to deal with your stress. Left unchecked, the stress in your life could put you on the path to destructive behaviors like over or under eating, angry outbursts, drug or alcohol abuse, tobacco use, withdrawing socially, or putting off exercise.
The first step to reducing or eliminating the stress in your life is to discover the relationship between the symptoms of stress and the sources of stress.
When we know the sources of stress, we can solve the problem and eliminate the stress source.
But how can you pinpoint the cause of your stress?
A stress diary is one way. First, take a moment to list the physical or mental symptoms of your stress. Ask your family and friends how they can tell when you are stressed.
Next, write down external stressors. Has anything unpredictable happened? Have you had a major life change either positive or negative? Any stress in the workplace or in social situations?
Thirdly, jot down some internal stressors. Do you have any fears? Is there anything in your life that feels out of your control? What kinds of expectations do you put on yourself?
Writing down our observations in a stress diary helps us gather information. It takes our stress out of the intangible realm and places it on paper so that we can look and reflect on our specific, personal stress.
Once the stressors are identified, then you can make an intentional plan to manage each stressor.
Identifying symptoms of stress and the stressors that cause it can be difficult to find on your own. It is helpful to have someone walk beside you so that you can overcome living with stress. This can be a friend or family member who is a good listener, speaks truth, and is observant about your life. But not everyone has this type of person in their life.
Or you may want a fresh perspective on your life from someone who has helped many others manage stress.
If so, we invite you to join the Stress Management Workshop through Wonder Health and Wellness.
The Stress Not Included Workshop is available both online and in person.
In addition to complete instructions for use of a stress diary, the workshop will look at:
Don’t live another day with unmanaged stress! Contact Dr. Mehriban Ulas, MD, CHC. She is passionate about helping you to live stress-free. With over 20 years of medical experience, Dr. Ulas has combined her previous experiences with health coaching techniques to empower her clients to be healthy, energetic, and productive. You can overcome the stress in your life. Dr. Ulas is here to help.
Work stress! Home stress! Career stress! Traffic stress! You name it. Stress is everywhere. Is it even possible to find a stress-free zone in your life? My answer is both “yes” and “no.” It is completely up to you and no one else! Let me explain:
Stress is a well-known entity. Sometimes we ignore it, and sometimes we carry it like a badge of honor. But are we really understanding stress? Its basic definition is “to be in a situation that you can’t handle.” Scientifically speaking, it is “your body’s response to demands placed on it.”
When facing a stressful situation, realize the implications it has on our soul, body, and mind. Our response toward stress is either fight or flight. During a fight response, we stand our ground, defend our position, and attack! On the other hand, in a flight response, we surrender, remove ourselves from the situation, and move on. Person to person, we can have differing responses to the same stressful situation.
Within a short period of time, we can tolerate a certain degree of stress. However, chronic stress, persisting over hours, days, or months, greatly impacts our body, mental health, and relationships in the long run.
Under stress, our muscles tense, mouth dries up, heart beats faster, pupils dilate, digestion slows down, and blood glucose increases and so on. Mentally, our mind becomes foggy, causing lack of concentration and productivity. Socially, we lose track of our interactions with others, resulting in relationship problems.
Can we defeat stress by covering up its symptoms? Or would it be better to get to the root of our stress and learn to manage or eliminate our stressors?
In the next series of blogs, I will dive into stress further, and share with you the practical tips on stress management. Let’s explore these stress-free zones together.
Mehriban Ulas, MD, CHC