Stress is a fact of life, wherever you are and whatever you are doing.
You cannot avoid stress, but you can learn to manage it so it doesn’t manage you.
Changes in our lives—such as going to college, getting married, changing jobs,
or illness—are frequent sources of stress. Keep in mind that changes that cause stress
can also benefit you. Moving away from home to attend college, for example, creates
personal-development opportunities—new challenges, friends, and living
arrangements. That is why it’s important to know yourself and carefully consider the
causes of stress. Learning to do this takes time, and although you cannot avoid stress,
the good news is that you can minimize the harmful effects of stress, such as
depression or hypertension
Definition Of Stress
Stress is the way human beings react both physically and mentally to changes, events, and
situations in their lives. People experience stress in different ways and for different reasons.
The reaction is based on your perception of an event or situation. If you view a situation
negatively, you will likely feel distressed—overwhelmed, oppressed, or out of control.
Distress is the more familiar form of stress. The other form, stress, results from a
“positive” view of an event or situation, which is why it is also called “good stress.”
Causes of Stress
The most frequent reasons for “stressing out” fall into three main categories:
1. The unsettling effects of change
2. The feeling that an outside force is challenging or threatening you
3. The feeling that you have lost personal control.
Life events such as marriage, changing jobs, divorce, or the death of a relative or friend
are the most common causes of stress. Although life-threatening events are less common,
they can be the most physiologically and psychologically acute. They are usually associated
with public service career fields in which people experience intense stress levels because
of imminent danger and a high degree of uncertainty
Symptoms of stress fall into three general, but interrelated, categories—physical, mental,
and emotional. Review this list carefully. If you find yourself frequently experiencing
these symptoms, you are likely feeling distressed:
• Gastrointestinal problems
• Hypertension (high blood pressure)
• Heart problems, such as palpitations
• Inability to focus/lack of concentration
• Sleep disturbances, whether it’s sleeping too much or an inability to sleep
• Sweating palms/shaking hands
• Sexual problems.
Even when you don’t realize it, stress can cause or contribute to serious physical
disorders. It increases hormones such as adrenaline and corticosterone, which affect your
metabolism, immune reactions, and other stress responses. That can lead to increases in
your heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, and physical demands on your internal organs.
Behavioral changes are also expressions of stress.
They can include:
• Disruptive eating patterns (overeating or under eating)
• Harsh treatment of others
• Increased smoking or alcohol consumption
Management of Stress
The first step is understanding
Yourself better—how you react in different situations, what causes you stress, and how you
behave when you feel stressed. Once you’ve done that, take the following steps:
Set priorities. Use the time-management tips you learned in Section 1. Make a To-Do
list. Decide what is really important to get done today, and what can wait. This helps
you to know that you are working on your most immediate priorities, and you don’t
have the stress of trying to remember what you should be doing.
Practice facing stressful moments. Think about the event or situation you expect to
face and rehearse your reactions. Find ways to practice dealing with the challenge.
Examine your expectations. Try to set realistic goals. It’s good to push yourself
to achieve,but make sure your expectations are realistic. Watch out for perfectionism.
Be satisfied with doing the best you can. Nobody’s perfect—not you, not your fellow
Cadet, nobody.Allow people the liberty to make mistakes, and remember that mistakes
can be a good teacher.
Live a healthy lifestyle. Get plenty of exercise. Eat healthy foods. Allow time
for rest and relaxation. Find a relaxation technique that works for you—prayer, yoga,
meditation, or breathing exercises. Look for the humor in life, and enjoy yourself.
Learn to accept change as a part of life. Nothing stays the same. Develop a support
system of friends and relatives you can talk to when needed. Believe in yourself and your
potential. Remember that many people from disadvantaged backgrounds have gone
on to enjoy great success in life.
At the same time, avoid those activities that promise release from stress while actually
adding to it. Drinking alcohol , drinking caffeine, smoking, and overeating all add to the
body’s stress in addition to their other harmful effects.
Here are some other strategies for dealing with stress:
• Schedule time for vacation, breaks in your routine, hobbies, and fun activities.
• Try to arrange for uninterrupted time to accomplish tasks that need your concentration.
Arrange some leisure time during which you can do things that you really enjoy.
• Avoid scheduling too many appointments, meetings, and classes back-to-back.
Allow breaks to catch your breath. Take a few slow, deep breaths whenever you
feel stressed. Breathe from the abdomen and, as you exhale, silently say to yourself,
“I feel calm.”
• Become an expert at managing your time. Read books, view videos, and attend
seminars on time management. Once you cut down on time wasters, you’ll find
more time to recharge yourself.
• Learn to say “no.” Setting limits can minimize stress. Spend time on your main
responsibilities and priorities rather than allowing other people’s priorities or needs
to dictate how you spend your time.
• Exercise regularly to reduce muscle tension and promote a sense of well-being.
• Tap into your support network. Family, friends, and social groups can help when
dealing with stressful events.