Read Stress Cause and Effects

We are constantly bombarded with tips and advice on how to manage stress in order to live a stress free life. They range from exercise, diet, yoga, meditation to sleep and the list is endless. Whilst these may help to alleviate the symptoms they do not get to the root cause of stress.Understanding the cause of your stress is vital if you want to be able to manage it effectively.When you understand the cause you can then take action to either avoid, reduce or change the way you deal with what causes you to feel stressed. Then by incorporating a healthy lifestyle or any of the above it will compliment your management of stress.

Understanding the cause of stress can often take time especially if it is not too obvious. The causes can be external, internal or a mix of both. To understand your stress you need to be able to identify the causes and the triggers before you can decide what you need to do about it. The first thing you need to do is to start a journal. In it you need to record all the events that caused you to feel stressed, if you are not too sure just guess. Next you need to record how you felt emotionally and physically. Emotional could include  wanting to scream, cry, explode with anger etc, physical could be palpitations or a pounding heart, your body tensing up, perspiring, dry mouth etc. Remember that your body feels the emotion before your thinking process kicks in so it is important to spend time getting to know how your body reacts.Once the situation starts to ease notice how you calmed or soothed yourself and how long did it take. Then after reviewing each situation ask yourself could you have done something differently that would have changed the outcome. By spending time with this exercise you will start to understand your stress and to see if the factors are external or internal.

If the stress is coming from an external source is it possible for you to isolate the cause. If you can, the next thing to ask yourself is can you avoid, stop, or reduce your contact with it. An example would be listening to the news or current affairs programme which 'makes your blood boil' every time you listen to it.
If it is a situation that you cannot avoid such as rush hour traffic, then you need to ask yourself some of the following questions; do you want to constantly feel like this, is it benefiting your health, in the bigger scheme of things is the level of
stress that you put yourself through worth it, if you have children what are you teaching them. With this example you could try and listen to some music or chat show that you enjoy or start do some breathing exercises, focusing on your breath and experiencing letting go of tension.

If it is a situation such as dealing with certain people ask yourself is there something that you can do in this situation. Are you assertive enough, do you need to voice your opinion, do you go along with the other person just for an easy life. With the situations that you cannot avoid or change, over a prolonged period of time they can trigger negative thoughts and feelings and these can play havoc with your emotional well-being. To counteract or balance this take time to look at your life, all the things that you appreciate,that feed your soul, the goodness and positives that fill your life.

If your stress is internal then you need to ask yourself the following:                                                                         
Do you always take too much on ?
Do you expect a lot from yourself ?
Do you always have a list and you never get to the end of your list without having another one on the go ?
Do you find it difficult to say no to others. Is it specific people or in general ?
Do you expect only 100% from yourself ?

By becoming aware of the pressure that you put yourself under you can then start to ask yourself what do  you want to do about it. Also sometimes it may be difficult to deal with the external causes because the source is internal.This may not be as easy as it seems and it can be helpful to work through some of this with a professional. 

Making time for fun and relaxation in your life is equally as important as trying to work out and understand what triggers your stress. As well as nurturing it also helps unwind and recharge the batteries. There are so many ways that you can do this from walking in nature, listening to music, reading, drawing, writing, long soak in a bath, massage. Again this list is endless. Do something that you really enjoy and you will feel the benefits.

And finally a healthy lifestyle, everything in moderation, diet, sleep, alcohol consumption and exercise all help to reduce your stress. 

© Copyright 2012 Anne-Marie Hearne