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Are you stressed?
May 4, 2018

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As parents, our life is so full of hassles, extra-curricular practices, frustrations and demands. For many of us, stress is so commonplace that it has become a way of life. Stress isn't always bad. In small doses, it can help you perform under pressure and motivate you to do your best. But when you're constantly running in emergency mode, your mind and body pay the price. I'm going to share some myths, signs and symptoms and some positive ways to manage your stress.

Myth 1: Stress is the same for everybody. Stress is different for each of us. What is stressful for one person may or may not be stressful for another; each of us responds to stress in an entirely different way. You may notice a negative attitude, irritable, a headache or you can't concentrate as a result of stress.

Myth 2: Stress is always bad for you. Stress is to the human condition what tension is to the violin string. Too little and the music is dull and raspy; too much and the music is shrill and the string snaps. Stress can be the kiss of death or the spice of life. The issue is really: how to handle it.

Myth 3: Stress is everywhere, so you can't do anything about it. Not so. You can plan your life so that stress doesn't overwhelm you. Effective planning involves prioritizing.

Myth 4: The most popular techniques for reducing stress always work the best. No universally effective stress reduction techniques exist. We are all different, only a comprehensive program tailored to the individual works.

Myth 5: No symptoms, no stress. Absence of symptoms does not mean absence of stress. In fact, camouflaging symptoms with medication may deprive you of signals to reduce physical stress or stress brought on by worrying or thinking about situations you may or may not have control over.

Myth 6: Only major symptoms of stress require attention. This myth implies that the "minor" symptoms, such as headaches or eyes twitching, may be safely ignored. Minor symptoms of stress are the early warning signs that your life is getting out of hand and you need to make changes to control stress!

One in three Americans are living with extreme stress. 48 percent of Americans believe that their stress has increased over the last 5 years. In order to manage stress, you must be able to recognize where it is coming from. Can you identify some of these stressors in your life? How do you know you're under stress? What does your body tell you? Here are some signs and symptoms:Headache, Back pain, Chest pain, Heart Disease, Stomach upset, Sleep problems, Anxiety, Restlessness, Worrying, Irritability, Depression, Anger, Lack of Focus, Forgetfulness, Alcohol abuse, Over or Under-eating, Outbursts, Social Withdrawal, Crying, Relationship conflicts.

Many Americans engage in unhealthy behaviors such as comfort eating, poor diet choices, smoking and inactivity to help deal with stress. Try using positive behavior instead.

Seek out a trusted friend or family member for help and support. Get some exercise. Exercise is not only good for your physical health but it also releases endorphins in your body that make your mood lighter. Write your thoughts in a journal.

Use positive self talk (I am feeling calm; I can do anything that I set out to do; It could be worse). Remember, it is okay to say "no" sometimes. Some other ways to manage your stress would be to:

Use positive behavior to overcome stress

Take time for yourself

Don't take on more than you can handle

Listen to calming music

Practice meditation

Whole body tensing

Guided Meditation

Eat healthy, well-balanced meals

Exercise on a regular basis

Get plenty of sleep

Give yourself a break if you are starting to feel stressed

What changes are you going to make to better handle your stress?

Amanda Bohlen is the new family and consumer science educator for The Ohio State University Extension in Washington County. She received her bachelor's in family and consumer science education from Ohio University and her master's in curriculum and instruction from Ohio Valley University. For the last seven years she has been in the classroom teaching high school students' financial education, child development, nutrition and culinary skills.

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