Stress—Controlling It Before It Controls You, Part 1
The Better Life Experts | September 23, 2008

Stress – what is stress?
We think of stress in basically two ways — the pressure we experience from external sources, and the internal experience that we feel when pressure is placed upon us. For our purposes in this series, we will be referring to stress as the way we experience pressure and how we respond to it.

Stress, as we experience it, is a common physiological reaction to pressure, strain, anxiety, constant worry and tension. Everyone experiences stress – it is part of our biology. The human nervous system is complex and many factors affect the ways in which the parasympathetic (relaxation) and sympathetic (fight or flight) structures interact. We can quite literally make ourselves sick from stress, especially if it remains uncontrolled and untreated. Your body cannot force you to deal with stress in the most obvious sense, but it can make you aware of “system errors” through varied means.

Stress in the workplace and stress at home. . . . It is important to recognize and acknowledge your stress before you lose your job or personal relationships due to major health issues or inappropriate behavioral responses.

What are some physiological reactions to stress?
Headaches
Fatigue
High Blood Pressure
Weakened immune system (increase in colds, flu, etc)
Heart attacks
Strokes
Blood sugar fluctuations
What are some common behavioral responses to stress?
Throughout this series on stress, we will “lump” behavior into three categories and discuss some characteristics that are commonly found in each behavioral category. We will examine coping strategies and find ways to modify and improve responses through the use of lifestyle change.

The Aggressor, the Denier, the Withdrawer – which one are you?

Characteristics of the Aggressor:
Tends to take stress/anger out on others
Can be physical – throwing things, hitting objects (or people/animals), slamming doors
Verbally attacks self and others; finds fault and blames others
Extreme irritability
Shows poor judgment under stress
Characteristics of the Denier:
Fails to acknowledge there is stress
Experiences increased energy, activity and restlessness
Has racing thoughts, jumps from one idea to another and talks fast
Denies that anything is wrong; only sees the positive side to a situation
Uses poor judgment
Engages in thrill seeking behavior
Intrusive behavior (doesn’t respect other people’s boundaries)
Keeps a tight lid on feelings; reactions are often not in line with what other people reveal or admit to feeling
Characteristics of the Withdrawer:
Attempts to reduce or remove stressful feelings through escapism
Tends to feel depressed
Shuts down and retreats from people, activities or relationships
Retreats as a means of control and establishing a safety net
Assumes passive role
Becomes sedentary and secretive
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