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2018-09 FTHC In-Service: Stress


What to do about Stress.

You can learn to recognize
and manage the stress in your life.


A word from the French, "estresse", which means narrowness. In medicine, stress is defined as 'the result produced when internal and external forces cause a disruption in our equilibrium (balance), or produce strain. In health care, it describes the physical and psychological forces that are experienced by individuals. These forces can include:

Fear, Anxiety, Crisis, Grief, Disease, Pain, and Joy

Stress is the body's reaction to feeling under pressure
Stress is any change you must adjust to

Interestingly, stress can be POSITIVE, such as the excitement following a promotion or pay raise, or an exciting family event.

Stress can be NEGATIVE, such as feeling overwhelmed by an increase in job responsibilities

It is obvious that we cannot avoid all the stresses that affect us as we live through many of life's experiences, but we CAN learn to develop some helpful coping mechanisms.

First, consider why it is important to recognize and manage some of the stresses that we may encounter. When stress occurs in quantities that the system cannot handle, the body may experience pathological changes. THIS MEANS THAT STRESS CAN MAKE US SICK. Consider the following Physical stressors:

  • Family and employment stressors
  • Emergencies (immediate threats)
  • Continuous stressors, such as bodily changes due to chronic disease, pregnancy, puberty)

PHYSICALLY, unmanaged stress can show up as problems with

  1. energy levels
  2. muscles
  3. the skin
  4. respiration
  5. digestion
  6. sleep

MENTALLY or EMOTIONALLY, stress may show up as

  1. Anxiety or Depression
  2. Anger
  3. Low self-esteem
  4. Poor concentration
  5. Forgetfulness
Stress can harm your physical and mental health, and bring difficulties within your personal and business relationships. It can affect the quality of your work, and create work-related tensions.

It is important to understand that humans can withstand some stress WITHOUT experiencing ill effects, but reactions vary considerably from individual to individual. One of the reasons for this is the ability of the individual to COPE with a given stressful situation. The good news is, WE CAN LEARN TO IMPROVE OUR ABILITY TO COPE WITH STRESSFUL SITUATIONS.

Let's discuss COPING MECHANISMS: This term means that "there is a conscious effort to manage anxiety, or a given stressful situation." Coping skills are characteristics or behavior patterns that assist us in adapting to face the situation and deal with it.

COPING SKILLS may be developed and enhanced through

  • a value or religious belief system
  • effective problem-solving skills Asocial skills
  • health and energy
  • a strong desire to follow-through to achieve results
THIS IS EASIER SAID THAN DONE! We are not born with these skills! However, it is very desirable to DEVELOP some of the skills that would be very helpful in times of despair or stress overload. We will then be better able to adapt to stressful situations and deal with them!

WHAT TO DO? It is important to IDENTIFY the life factors that are stressing us excessively. We need to ask ourselves: " Just what is bothering me?" Some of the common causes of stress overload include

  • Relationships
  • Financial Difficulties
  • Health Problems
  • Insufficient rest/relaxation/exercise
  • Low self-esteem
  • Guilt

NEXT: Examine your attitude your life problem(s). Attitude plays a significant role in our ability to help ourselves. A POSITIVE ATTITUDE empowers us. It enables us to PLAN TO ALTER the things in our lives that cause us to feel unhappy and anxious. This is really a form of the PLACEBO EFFECT. When we THINK things will get better, we gain some power. This means that your mind is a powerful tool always available for your use.


  1. PRIORITIZE: Put the majority of your energy into the things in your life that are most important to you.
  2. SHARE the Load: Ask for assistance, such as a close and trusted friend, or a trusted family member.
  3. Say NO to requests that tax your "free" or "relaxation" time. Take time for yourself. Do something healthy for you, such as Yoga, working out at the gym, walking, reading, music. Maybe just a nap.
  4. REALIZE that you may benefit from some assistance in completing household chores, for example. Don't try to do everything yourself!
  5. USE a good Relaxation Tape. Lie quietly in a semi-darkened room and let your body rest and your mind roam free.
  6. DECIDE what you want to do about a problem, and begin positive action.
  7. AVOID being alone during times of excessive stress.
  8. Try to DISTRACT yourself with something that is good for you, like physical exercise.
  9. CONSULT your primary care physician if you feel the need for therapy to help you through severe stress overload. Your physician can refer you for counseling help.
  10. Use your FAITH to empower you.
  11. AVOID people that cause turmoil in your life. Choose calmness. Create a calm atmosphere whenever and wherever possible.

IT IS IMPORTANT to remember that time will pass, you will face each day, and none of us knows what the future actually holds. Take each day as a gift (the 'present' IS a gift) and use it to enhance your life.

How you use your 24 hours is mostly up to you. Of course, the reality is that about eight of those hours will be devoted to earning a living, and hopefully your employment will not be excessively stressful. If your work is a heavy source of stress, you may want to develop some coping skills that will help you to manage your daily stress. Hopefully, this presentation has motivated you to think about the stress in your life, and to learn as much as possible about how to plan your own stress management strategies!

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