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Stress Management

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We only have today. Let us begin.” – St. Teresa of Calcutta

Do people ever say to you things like, “Just calm down”, “Get a grip on yourself”, “You’re stressing me out too!” Well, it probably means you really are stressing out too much. But simply “calming down” or “getting a grip” isn’t easy either.

Stress is a normal part of life than can often get out of control. Learning to cope with stress can help you learn to enjoy life even when stressful situations occur. But when stress is prolonged and a person never has relief then it can have many negative affects. Some physical symptoms include headaches, an upset stomach, heart problems and high blood pressure. Negative affects on the emotional life include depression or anxiety. Furthermore, some people will end up using drugs and alcohol to self-medicate and relax. This leads to additional problems including risky behaviors.

We often use the term “stress” to describe negative situations. This leads many people to believe that all stress is bad for you, which is not true. Stress is simply the body’s response to changes that create taxing demands. There are two main types of stress, eustress and distress.



Positive Stress Negative Stress
Motivates, focuses energy Causes anxiety or concern
Is short-term Can be short- or long-term
Is perceived as within our coping abilities Is perceived as outside of our coping abilities
Feels exciting Feels unpleasant
Improves performance Decreases performance
  Can lead to mental and physical problems

It is important to understand how to differentiate between eustress and distress so that you can identity when the stress in your life stops being helpful. Only when you recognize that the stress in your life is outside of your current coping abilities can you choose to do something about it. Counseling can assist in teaching you how to recognize the types of stress in your life and teach you the coping skills needed to bring your stress down to a more manageable level.

Like stress, stressors are broken down into two main categories: life events and daily hassles. Life events are the major events in our lives and can be associated with eustress or distress. Some examples of life events are: getting married, moving, losing a job, experiencing a divorce, and having a child. Daily hassles include the day-to-day stressors that constantly occur. Some examples of daily hassles include: getting stuck in traffic, family disputes, working long hours, health issues, and even the cry of a new baby.

Did You Know?

  • Stress can either help us learn and grow or can cause us significant problems.
  • Stress releases powerful neurochemicals and hormones that prepare us for action (to fight or flee).
  • If we don’t act, the stress response can create or worsen health problems
  • Prolonged, uninterrupted, unexpected, and unmanageable stressors are the most damaging

Common symptoms include: Low energy, headaches, upset stomach, nausea, aches and pains, chest pain, rapid heartbeat, frequent colds and infections, loss of sexual desire and/or ability, and insomnia.

Recommended Resources:

A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook by Bob Stahl and Elisha Goldstein – In this book, you’ll learn how to replace stress-promoting habits with mindful ones—a skill that will last a lifetime.

How We Can Help:

If you are overwhelmed with negative stress then it’s important to learn how to manage it. In counseling, we can help you:

  • Work through the issues you are experiencing with stress and help you develop coping skills to manage distress effectively;
  • Think about life differently and keep things in perspective, so that you worry less and live more;
  • Assist you in identifying stress from life events and daily stressors;
  • Growing spiritually as another way to give your concerns to God and receive His peace;
  • Teach you stress management techniques such as triangular breathing, progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) and Guided Imagery; and
  • Help you learn how to process stressful situations

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” – William James

Feeling stressed? Just calm down already, we can help.