Managing our stress is an essential key to Mastering Our Health!

by Dr. Gloria Walters

What is Stress?

Stress in our lives is inevitable. It can be defined as the way our bodies and minds react to something which upsets our normal way of living. There are both positive and negative sources of stress. The key to how stress affects us is how we interpret what we experience. Our interpretation of the stress experience then informs our response to it.

When stress is excessive and/or inadequately managed, it can lead to a number of negative effects including emotional distress and physical illness. It has been estimated that 50-80% of all physical illnesses, including headaches, hypertension, heart disease, stomach and bowel problems, dermatitis, asthma, and insomnia, can be linked to excessive or poorly managed stress. Some signs and symptoms associated with excessive stress include sleep and appetite disturbance, fatigue, irritability, sadness, excessive worry, and weight fluctuation.

Ineffective coping strategies include social withdrawal; self-deprecation; aggression; procrastination and avoidance; shifting responsibility or blaming others; over-extending one’s self; and misusing or abusing drugs, alcohol or food.


Coping with Stress

Our ability to manage or cope with stress is directly connected to our cognitive appraisal of the stressful events we experience. Positive coping strategies include seeking social and emotional support; using positive internal dialogue to encourage one’s self during times of excessive stress; prioritizing our time and setting limits; taking care of or bodies by getting ample rest, eating regular balanced meals, drinking plenty of water, maintaining a regular aerobic exercise program and avoiding chemical stress ‘mimics’, like caffeine, nicotine, and other stimulants.

 

Useful Stress Management Techniques

Relaxation Exercises

Deep Breathing

Visual Imagery

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Massage Therapy

Prayer/Meditation

Aerobic Exercises

Counseling/Psychotherapy

Journaling

Cognitive Restructuring   redirecting your thoughts toward more realistic

and positive appraisals of life events


Gloria Walters, Ph.D. is a Cognitive Behavioralist in Los Angeles, California and Mental Health Expert for DMMD.