Michele FriedAdoption STAR’s Founder & CEO Michele Fried discusses ways to deal with and minimize stress.

“Wow. I have been feeling really stressed out lately!”
Have you heard that before? Are you saying that? A partner? Friend? Coworker?

Stress can surprisingly be good. It may energize or motivate you. The human stress response prepares us for physical activities and allows us heightened sensitivity and being more alert.

Good stressors are situations or events that we think of as positive, but which still trigger the stress response. This can include preparing to become a parent, getting married, going on vacation, getting a new job, etc. These may be good things but are stressful because they involve changes. Change is simply stressful whether or not it is positive or negative change.

Besides change, it is also the loss of control. Many of these circumstances, no matter how much we plan for them, have components that we cannot control. Sometimes it is an unknown timeline, the weather that may affect something, relying on others involved in the situation, the fear of the unknown, focusing on worst-case scenario, etc.

It is important to do our best to reflect on the positives and embracing the philosophy that the “glass is half-full rather than half-empty”.

You may have heard this from us before but …
Being Hopeful
Being Exhilarated
Being “Up for the Challenge”
are important stress-busters for the rest of your life!

When we are stressed the following happens:

  • Blood pressure rises
  • Breathing becomes more rapid
  • Digestive system slows down
  • Heart rate /pulse rises
  • Immune system goes down
  • Muscles become tense
  • We do not sleep (heightened state of alertness)
  • Our relationships become strained

How to deal with stress

Isn’t it odd how sometimes in the least stressful times, we can go for a run or go to the gym or do what we do everyday, but when something happens to cause good or bad stress, we sometimes freeze and forget to take care of us. Below are some methods to help you deal with stress.
Exercise – I am typing this while sitting on the coach, I rather think of myself as a potato chip rather than a coach potato, okay an inside joke but you and I both know that exercise has been proven to have a beneficial to us emotionally and physically.

Delegate and Divide Work and Home Responsibilities – If at all possible try to delegate some responsibilities, or share them. Taking everything on by yourself may make you feel indispensible or in control but will only add to your stress.

Practice Saying No – You don’t have to be mean, just assertive. You don’t have to say yes to everything. If you can’t do something well or just not right now, share that information with others – you may be pleasantly surprised at the response.

Remove Alcohol and Drugs – The bottom line is that alcohol and drugs will not help you manage your stress better. Either stop consuming them completely, or cut down.

Cut Down on the Caffeine – Are those palpitations from my stress or my morning coffee? If you consume coffee, tea or other drinks contain caffeine, cut down. Remember that chocolate too!

Eat Healthy – Be conscious of good nutrition practices such as eating plenty of fruit and vegetables. Over-eating or under-eating is a symptom of stress.

Find Time – It is possible to find some time every day for yourself. It is easier said then done but by making a schedule and keeping to it even if it is 15 or 30 minutes to do something that you enjoy.

Remember to Breathe! – Breathing deeply through the nose can help you relax. There are many effective breathing techniques that you can research that can slow down your system and help you relax.

Talking is Good Medicine – Talk to you family, friends, co-workers and your supervisor.

Know When to Seek Professional Support – If your stress is affecting the way you function every day; go and see a specialist. Increased stress for prolonged periods is unhealthy.

Learn Relaxation Techniques – Yoga, mediation, massage, reflexology and aromatherapy, are all known to decrease stress.

If you are committed to decreasing or at least managing your stress you need to alter your view of a stressful event. You need to learn alternative ways of coping with stress. Whether it be reading self-help books or attending a stress management course or by seeking help with a counselor or other specialist, you need to deal with it.

Physicians will usually not prescribe medicate to cope with stress unless you have another diagnosis such as anxiety or depression. In that case, the doctor is actually treating a mental health issue and possibly an anti-depressant may be recommended. Be aware that medications themselves may actually cause stress.

Okay, now I am logging off to begin to follow some of these important suggestions. I hope you do the same!