Stress in small doses isn't a bad thing. Stress can challenge you to do your best. But too much stress can affect both your emotional and physical health. Learning what brings on stress in your life is the first step toward managing it. This assessment will help you identify your life "stressors."
In each category, check all the items that currently apply to your life.
You selected the following items:
You have indicated that there are no major risk factors in your current lifestyle and circumstances that would put you at risk for developing stress.
Being laid off
Boredom with job
Dislike of job
Working harder, accomplishing less
High responsibility, low control
Problem employee, supervisor or co-worker
Having a child
Death in the family
Making a new friend
Taking a vacation
Children leaving home
Quit smoking, drinking or using drugs
Losing a good friend
Skipping a vacation
Difficulty finding good child care
The items you checked are examples of your possible stressors--the situations that may cause you stress. Any kind of change in your life--whether good or bad--may trigger stress. Certain life events may be very stressful. These include getting divorced (or getting married), having a baby, losing a loved one or retiring from work. Each person's reaction to stress may be different. Some events that you may find stressful may not be stressful to someone else.
Once you are aware of what triggers your stress and recognize the symptoms of stress, you can start using stress management strategies. In fact, many experts believe that the way in which people deal with stress may be more important than the number or type of stressful situations they face.
Although a little stress isn't harmful, persistent, long-term stress can raise your risk for illnesses, including obesity, heart disease and certain cancers. Long-term stress can cause digestive problems and weaken your immune system.
Symptoms of stress include feelings of anxiety, back pain, headaches, sleep problems, unplanned weight gain or loss, upset stomach, and constipation or diarrhea.
Here are some tips for dealing with common stressful situations.
- Be realistic. Don’t take on more responsibility than you can or should handle. If you feel overwhelmed, say NO to any activity that is not absolutely necessary. Ask yourself, “What really needs to be done?” How much can I do?
- Don’t try for perfection. No one is perfect, so don’t expect perfection from yourself or others. Ask for help if you need it.
- Take one thing at a time. Tension or stress can make an ordinary workload seem unbearable. One way to cope with the feeling of being overwhelmed is to take just one task at a time. Pick the most urgent one and work on it. Once you accomplish it, choose the next one.
- Take time out for yourself. Meditation, regular exercise, good nutrition, and sharing your feelings with friends can help you cope with stressful situations.
- Realize that you can't control everything. What you can't control, don't worry about.
- Plan ahead for stressful events. If you need to give a speech, for instance, give yourself time to prepare for it.
- Approach changes in your life as challenges or opportunities instead of threats.
- Exercise most days of the week. Aim for at least 30 to 40 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each day.
- Get enough sleep.
- Follow a healthy diet.
- Get involved in hobbies or social events that are pleasurable.
- Seek counseling if it feels like your stress level is spiraling out of control. Check your employee benefits for employee assistance programs (EAPs). These programs provide confidential support services and can be very helpful.