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The Great Feat of Managing Stress

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Essay title: The Great Feat of Managing Stress

The Great Feat of Managing Stress

Stress is a commonplace in every human’s life. It is inevitable that people encounter stress; the question lies in how they will cope with it. This paper offers information and self-help strategies concerning the stress response.

The Great Feat of Managing Stress

What Is Stress?

Stress. For some, just reading the word makes their muscles tense. What exactly is it that makes brains tell bodies to react this way? This reaction (which, in itself, is a stress response) is caused by some type of nerve-racking experience in the past. This experience likely resembled the following definition:

The stress response of the body is somewhat like an airplane readying for take-off. Virtually all systems (eg, the heart and blood vessels, the immune system, the lungs, the digestive system, the sensory organs, and brain) are modified to meet the perceived danger (Peckham, 2001, para. 1).

This bodily response to a threat can be long-term, and it can be short-term. To adequately label these two types of stress would be: “acute stress” and “chronic stress” (Peckham, 2001, para. #). These two types of stress are best defined by this article by Dumke, L., Hutman, S., Jaffe, J., and Segal, R.:

“Acute stress results from demands and pressures of the recent past and anticipated demands and pressures of the near future... The grinding stress that wears people down day after day and year after year is chronic stress” (2005, para. 13,15).

What Causes Stress?

Stress can be caused by outside factors such as work, school, or family; however, it can also be caused by internal factors such as worry, depression, or disease. The outside forces are termed “external stressors”, while the inside forces are termed “internal stressors” (Peckham, 2001, para. 2,3). Some people will have more contact with one type of stress over the other, depending on how their lives play out.

According to Peckham, work can be defined as an external stressor. Most Americans agree. In a nationwide survey by Northwestern National Life Insurance Company, 46% of American workers reported their jobs were somewhat to very stressful. 27% reported that their jobs were the single greatest source of stress in their lives. Overall, nearly 72% said that they have frequent stress-related physical and mental conditions. In fact, stress-related disabilities have gone from 6% to 13% over the past 9 years (United States Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventative Medicine [USACHPPM], 2005, para. 6).

The workplace acts as an external stressor that causes internal stressors to form. For example, if an employer were to unreasonably require a large amount of paperwork, the employee would likely experience chronic headaches, feelings of intense worry, and sleeplessness. In order for the workplace to be a healthy environment for the employee, the following techniques should be used: expectations should be made clear; he/she should have authority to carry out assigned tasks; honest, constructive feedback should be given on performance; and, self-care should be encouraged (Bernstein, 1999).

What are Some Techniques to Combat Stress?

In order for one to combat stress, a variety of techniques should be used. Bernstein offers some very effective techniques to aid in this effort. Each technique is effective in itself, but works best when used as part of a more complex plan. Three main techniques to use in combating stress are: leading a healthy lifestyle, strengthening/establishing a support network, and using cognitive-behavioral methods (Bernstein, 1999).

The better one takes care of his/her body, the better he/she will feel (Bernstein, 1999). The body is more adequately able to handle stressful situations when healthy and fit(Bernstein, 1999). Bernstein recommends eating at least three meals a day, exercising regularly, making regular doctor visits, and learning to relax (1999). In making changes to ones habits of maintaining health and fitness, Bernstein recommends some guidelines to follow:

· Start small

· Set clear, specific goals

· Start from where you are not from where you want to be

· Make changes one at a time

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