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Typical Stress Reactions

Physical Reactions:

  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia (which may turn into hypersomnia)
  • Exhaustion
  • Health problems (such as change in appetite, headaches, digestive problems)   

Behavioral Reactions:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Difficulty with concentration
  • Inability to attach importance to anything other than this incident
  • Flashbacks
  • Under-activity
  • Nightmares
  • Startle reactions
  • Memory disturbances

Psychological Reactions:

  • Fear
  • Guilt
  • Emotional numbing
  • Anger-which may manifest by:
    • Scapegoating, Irritability,
    • Frustration with bureaucracy,
    • Violent fantasies.
    • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Feelings of helplessness
  • Amnesia for the event

You experience stress from 3 basic sources:

  1. Your environment
  2. Your body
  3. Your thoughts

What Is Stress?

Hans Selye, M.D. was considered the world's leading authority on stress, and he defined it as, "the nonspecific response of the body to any demand made upon it". In other words stress is.....

A Bodily Response
Stress is a bodily response, not something that happens to us. That means you can do something about it; you are not merely a helpless victim of circumstance! No matter what or how big the stressors in your life, you can learn to respond in a less destructive, more positive way. YOU CAN BE IN CONTROL!

Any Change
Stress results from any change in normal routine, anything that forces us to cope with a new situation. The more changes in a short period of time, the greater the response. As we adapt to change, energy demands are made on the body.

Any Threat
Stress results from any threat, physical or psychological. Even if the mind merely imagines a problem, the body responds as if the threat were real. Determine how to make life happier and more rewarding by taking a healthy attitude toward stress.

Stress is an everyday fact of life. It is any change that you must adjust to. We usually think of stress as being negative events (illness, injury, death of a loved one), but stress can also be positive (getting a new job, moving, travel, a new baby). Falling in love can, for some people, be as stressful as falling out of love!

A Few Strategies and Practical Tips for Stress Management 

  • Within the first 24-48 hours, periods of strenuous physical exercise alternated with relaxation will alleviate some of the physical reactions.
  • Structure your time – keep busy.
  • You are normal and having reactions – don’t label yourself crazy.
  • Talk to people – talk is the most healing medicine.
  • Be aware of numbing the pain with overuse of drugs or alcohol; you don’t need to complicate this with a substance abuse problem.
  • Reach out – people do care.
  • Keep your life as normal as possible.
  • Spend time with others.
  • Help your co-workers as much as possible by sharing feelings and checking out how they are doing.
  • Give yourself permission to feel rotten and share your feelings with others.
  • Keep a journal; write your way through those sleepless hours.
  • Do things that feel good to you.
  • Realize those around you are under stress.
  • The Nutrition Almanac recommends supplementing your diet with Vitamin C, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B6, Calcium and Magnesium.
  • Don’t make any big life changes.
  • Do make as many daily decisions as possible which will give you a feeling of control over your life.  (i.e., if someone asks you what you want to eat, answer them even if your not sure.)
  • Hide duplicate keys (keys to the car, house, etc.) in secure areas.
  • Prepare yourself for work the night before (e.g., choose your clothes, pack your briefcase).
  • Drink more water and decrease caffeine.  Americans tend to be dehydrated which can impact our physical and mental performance.
  • When appropriate, say “no” to requests that place additional demands on your life.  Examine the consequences (e.g., did your worst fears materialize?).
  • Examine your concerns or worries that preoccupy your mind.  Ask yourself some of these questions:  Will I still be worrying about this concern in one month?  When I’m lying on my deathbed, will I still be thinking about this concern?
  • Simplify, under-schedule, stretch, meditate, and help others.

Choosing a Release 

If stress registers mainly in your body, you’ll need a remedy that will break up the physical tension pattern.  This may be a vigorous body workout, but a slow-paced, even lazy, relaxation of muscles may be equally effective.  Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  • Aerobics
  • Rowing
  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Progressive relaxation
  • Yoga
  • Massage
  • Biking
  • Soaking in a hot tub or sauna (be aware too long or too hot exposure can increase your blood pressure)