Stress is a natural part of everyday life. Left unchecked, however, stress can cause physical, emotional and behavioral disorders that can affect your health, vitality and peace-of-mind, and personal and professional relationships.

Everyone handles stress differently, some better than others. If you think you have too much stress in your life, it may be hopeful to talk with a doctor, member of the clergy or other caring professional. Because reactions to stress can be a factor in depression, anxiety and other mental and emotional disorders, they may suggest that you consult with a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker or other qualified counselor.

Here is a checklist of negative reactions to stress and tension:
• Do minor problems and disappointments upset you excessively?
• Do small pleasures of life fail to satisfy you?
• Are you unable to stop worrying?
• Do you feel inadequate or suffer from self doubt?
• Are you constantly tired?
• Do you experience flashes of anger over minor problems?
• Have you noticed a change in sleeping or eating patterns?
• Do you suffer from chronic pain, headaches or backaches?

If you answered "yes" to most of these questions, consider the following suggestions for reading or controlling stress:
• Be Realistic. If you feel overwhelmed by some activities, learn to say NO!
• Shed the "superman/women" urge. No one is perfect, so don't expect perfection from yourself or others.
• Meditate for 10 to 20 minutes.
• Visualize how you can manage a stressful situation more successfully.
• Take one thing at a time. Prioritize your tasks from your worries.
• Live a healthy lifestyle with good nutrition, adequate rest, regular exercize, limited caffeine and alcohol, and balanced work and play
• Share your feelings with family and friends. Don't try to cope alone.
• Give in occasionally. Be flexible.
• Go easy with criticism. You may be expecting too much.

Copyright © 2007 Suzanne Leitner LCSW, CAP
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