What is Stress?
Stress is the burst of energy that helps you meet demands, like rushing to a meeting. But too much stress can become distress. Over time, this can lead to health problems, such as high blood pressure. Learning to manage stress may help you feel more in control.
When Stress Becomes Distress
Common signs of distress include:
Feeling tired or depressed
Being irritable more often
Sleeping more or less than usual
Losing your appetite, or overeating
Smoking more, or abusing alcohol or drugs
Having trouble concentrating
Getting sick more often, or having changes in your menstrual cycle
One Woman, Many Roles
As a woman, you may play several roles both at home and at work. Many people may depend on you and expect you to be available to them. These demands create the type of stress that can easily lead to distress. Instead of losing control, make it a priority to manage your stress.
Steps to Managing Stress
When stress threatens to become distress, it's time to regain your balance. Try these tips:
Give yourself permission to manage your stress. Remember that it's smart, not selfish, to do so.
Visit people and places you enjoy. Relax with your family.
Rethink old habits. Ask yourself: Must this task be done so often? Is there a better way to do it? Who else can do it? Can we take turns?
Keep up your relationships. Work with people close to you to resolve any problems. Counselling may help.
Manage your money wisely. Design a budget you can live with. Ask an expert for advice.
Create free time. Take your lunch breaks, or trade babysitting services with other mothers.
Learn to say "No" to unreasonable requests, such as being asked to plan your family reunion every year.
Techniques to Soothe You
Let go of stress by learning to relax. With practise, you can relax anywhere, anytime you feel tense. These techniques may help:
Deep breathing: Inhale through your nose. Feel as if you are breathing into your stomach. Slowly exhale through your mouth. Do this at least 4 times.
Relaxation: Hold a pleasant word, picture or thought in your mind for a few minutes. If other thoughts enter, let them pass by like clouds overhead. Gently open your eyes when you are done.
Sit so you feel at ease during deep breathing and relaxation.
Reaching a Healthy Balance
There is no way to avoid stress. It's a fact of life. But learning to manage your stress will allow you to meet many challenges and still enjoy the things in life that you find special.