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Most people are familiar with the word stress. Did you know that in small doses stress can be good? Stress is not just being worried about passing a test, getting fired from a job, or making the one you love happy for the next 30 years. Many people associate the word stress with worry, so it is no wonder that when we worry too much we refer to it as being stressed out. If you are used to associating stress with something that causes you to worry, you have been thinking about stress the wrong way. Stress takes on many forms. It exists in that which makes us sad, happy, allergic, and confused; therefore, the best definition of stress is change. Anything that causes a change in your daily life is considered stress. Your body does not differentiate between a good change and a bad one--they are both considered stress. For example, you find a car you want to buy--this is considered stress. The same is true if upon taking your new car out for a drive you get into an accident. Bad or good, if it is a change in your life, then it is stress to your body. Stress is not only limited to the tangible; imaginary changes are also considered stress. If you are concerned about a date you have on Friday, what to wear or how to dress, this is also considered stress to your body. Stress management starts by identifying the sources of stress in your life. The goal of stress management is to center the mind, body, and soul to achieve a perfect balance. If you are living with high levels of stress in your life, you are putting your entire well-being at risk. The true source of your stress will not always be known to you, for stress blurs your ability to think lucidly, operate regularly, and love honestly. Fostering a positive attitude and learning healthy ways to stress reduction release the strangle hold that stress has on your life, your thoughts, and your emotions. Ultimately, helping you to take back your life. For many, simply committing their worries to paper is all the catharsis they need. Keeping a journal is a perfect way to clarify reoccurring behaviors and obstacles in your life. The idea is to write, read, and release. Once you become aware of your patterns, reducing the stress in your life becomes a matter of formulating the right plan to move through the stress. Unhealthy Ways Of Dealing With Stress Procrastination Alcohol Smoking Taking tranquilizers or sleeping pills to relax Overeating/starving Drugs If your approach to stress management does not aid your physical and emotional well-being, it is time to find a new way that will help you deal with those stressors. The following are steps which

will aid in stress management. 1. Unneeded Stress Not all stress is avoidable, so you have to know your limits. Whether it is your personal or professional life, if you take on more than you can handle, it will end badly. Take a good look at your daily tasks and obligations. Make a list distinguishing between what is necessary and what is not needed in your life. Drop the less important tasks to the bottom or take them off the list completely. As far as the people in your life that stress you out are concerned, limit your time with them or end the relationship entirely. You need to take control of your environment. 2. Defusing The Bomb If a stressful situation cannot be avoided, learn from it so you can change it in the future. Most often, stress reduction involves changing the way you communicate with others. Let your feelings out instead of allowing them to be bottled up. If you do not express the resentment you feel surrounding a particular event, it may escalate before a resolution can be reached. When your stress involves someone else, and you want them to change their behavior, you must be willing to do the same. 3. Acceptance There are many aspects of life that cannot be controlled: losing a job, sudden illness, or the death of a loved one. The best way to deal with the stress anxiety that arises from the unavoidable is to accept the fact that you cannot control the uncontrollable. Apart from that, you must learn to forgive. Forgiveness and acceptance are the backbone to stress management without them your stress will never be released. Once you realize people make mistakes--we live in a fractured world--then you can let go of the negative, freeing yourself from the stress. 4. Change Of Heart We cannot control the way other people react; all we can control is ourselves. Therefore, stress reduction becomes a matter of changing your perception. If you evaluate how important any given situation is against the affect it will have on your life, you can discover what makes you upset. For example, if you have just gotten off a long days work and upon stopping at the grocery store, you discover a long line at the checkout counter. Changing your perception will bring a different result. Instead of allowing the exhaustion from a long days work to weigh in against the long lineup and slow customers, you could take the time to enjoy being off work and realize that soon you will be at home and relaxed. 5. Imperfection Is Perfection Nothing feels better than accomplishing something masterfully, however, setting yourself up for failure by never allowing yourself to make mistakes can be a major source of stress. Set realistic goals and celebrate your accomplishments. When you are starting to feel a little stressed out--take a minute to appreciate the positive aspects of your life. Remember, every time you say something negative about yourself--your subconscious mind hears too. Try this, next time you are in the bathroom look into the mirror and say something positive aloud to yourself. Do it once everyday! Stress anxiety is a feeling of doubt or dismay; its uneasiness is not always recognizable nor are the causes. Stress anxiety may accompany such physical symptoms as sweating, headaches, abdominal pain, or muscle twitching. Other symptoms that may be associated with stress anxiety are:

Lack of concentration Dizziness Insomnia Irregular heart rate Fatigue Irritability Some recreational and medicinal drugs cause symptoms of stress anxiety as a side effect or withdrawal from the drug. The drugs you need to be aware of are: cocaine, amphetamines, diet pills, cold remedies, decongestants, nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol. As well, an unhealthy diet with low levels of vitamin B12 will also have a factor in stress anxiety. Beyond the take charge approach to a positive lifestyle, you can reduce stress anxiety by taking care of yourself. In other words, start with finding someone you can trust like a neighbor, friend, or loved one and open up. Start a dialogue. This will help you release the worries. Remember, a healthy mind goes hand-in-hand with a healthy body, so you need to make regular time for rest and relaxation. If you do not nurture yourself, who will. Being physically active 3 times a week for at least 30 minutes a day will reduce and help prevent the effects of stress. A positive compliment to an exercise program is a healthy diet. Nourished bodies are better equipped to manage stress. The following activities are a great way to stay active while reducing stress. Learn yoga Take a walk Spend time in nature Gardening Sports Working out Playing with a pet Since we all respond differently to stress, there is not a one-size-fits-all method to stress management. Focus on that which makes you feel calm and in control. Operating on a daily red alert comes with a high price tag: your stamina, your health, and your peace of mind. While it may seem that stress is inevitable--there will always be bad drivers, there will never be any more hours in a day, and your marriage will always take work. Fortunately, there is good news; you have more control over your life and stress reduction then you think. Simply recognizing that you are the master of your own destiny is the basis of stress management. Don't sweat the small stuff until next time.

Ian Lawrence Campbell is a college student in the Miami area. He is currently pursuing a degree in psychology.

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