Utah Families: Use stress to your advantage

Story by Chloe Merrill
(Standard-Examiner)
Mon, Feb 11, 2013
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Everyone has to deal with stress. It is part of our biological makeup.

In ancient times, it was used as a survival mechanism. Today, stress is such a concern that it is hard to open a magazine or newspaper or go to your doctor without the topic coming up.

Not all stress is bad. Stress can be the spice of life if it is handled well. And since stress cannot be escaped, it seems logical to learn how to use it to your best advantage. If not, it can lead to the development of illness and disease.

There are many causes of stress, but the four primary ones include:

• Physically induced stress, which is a direct disturbance to your body such as bacterial or viral infections, drugs, injuries, extreme heat or cold.

• Developmental changes in your life requiring adaptation, such as entering adulthood, parenthood and aging.

• Situational changes requiring adaptation, such as vacations and holidays, marriage, a new job or going away to college.

• Emotionally induced stress caused by your thought processes, being around other people, facing deadlines or unpleasant situations and anticipatory stress (worry).

Life is all about growth and change. Change causes stress. By keeping things in perspective and realizing just what sort of stress you are under, you can use coping skills to reduce the negative effects of stress. This will help you live longer, happier and healthier.

What is important is to find ways to channel stress. Whether it takes a good cry, a loud scream, a fast run or a quiet time, you will need to find your own method for relieving anxiety and stress in your life.

Keeping your life in balance requires time and energy. It means knowing where your time is spent and making an effort to maintain a balance.

There are many things that you can do to keep your life in balance.

Some ways to reduce stress:

• Learn to say “No.” It’s the best prevention tool you can have.

• Reduce the number of unnecessary things you do.

• Don’t try to think of more than one thing at a time.

• Develop the skills to effectively resolve conflict.

• Develop good decision-making patterns.

• Slow down! You do not have to do everything.

• Do not procrastinate. Take action as soon as possible to dramatically reduce stress.

• Accomplish one task at a time. Schedule the most difficult tasks before the easier ones. It is easy to allow minor tasks to distract us from more difficult ones.

• Do not worry about the things you cannot control.

• Balance work with play.

Stress is an opportunity to improve your life. A certain amount of stress is necessary for a vital, exhilarating and creative life.

If all else fails, remember that STRESSED is DESSERTS spelled backward.

Chloe D. Merrill is on the faculty of the Weber State University department of child and family studies. The opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect those of WSU.

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