Stress is a fact of life. Most people have to cope with the day-to-day hassles of traffic jams, busy schedules, sick children and so on. People also have to deal with major stress-causing events from time to time. Job lay-offs, serious illnesses and other life-affecting events can send stress levels soaring. Even happy occasions such as weddings or vacations can contribute to stress.
Stress can be unhealthy for anyone because it releases a number of stress hormones or chemicals into the body. These triggers can raise your blood pressure, increase your heart rate, alter your blood glucose, and can affect your immune system, which could reduce your ability to ward off illness.
There are many strategies for handling stress. If you can, step away from a stressful situation for a few minutes, before it grows worse. A mental "time out" can frequently dampen the intensity. Physical activity is excellent for reducing stress levels. So are disciplines like yoga, tai chi and meditation. The support of family members and friends can also be a huge help when you are coping with stress. Don't be embarrassed to tell them when you are feeling stressed, and to ask for their assistance.
Above all, try to put stressful situations into context by considering the "big picture". Ask yourself whether the things you are stressing about will still matter in a week, or a month, or a year from now. You might realize that whatever is causing you anxiety, is actually pretty minor in the whole scheme of things.
If your stressful situation is likely to be long lasting, you may want to consider joining a local support group. Many people find it easier to cope with stress when they can discuss their problems and frustrations with people who share the same concerns. Talk to your healthcare provider to find support in your area. Help is available.
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