Stress management: Evaluating stress

Feeling the effects of stress is a normal part of life, especially when you are facing major challenges. But each person responds to stress differently. What causes a lot of stress for one person may not cause stress for someone else. That’s because a large part of stress is a matter of perception-how you view a situation determines how much stress it causes you. Therefore, only you can best evaluate the amount of stress in your life and learn better ways to cope with it.

Ask yourself the following questions to learn what is causing you stress and how you respond:

What job, family, or personal stress do I have?

Chronic stress can be caused by an ongoing stressful situation such as:

  • Family or relationship problems.
  • Caring for a family member who is elderly, has chronic health problems, or is disabled. Care giving is a major source of stress. For more information, see the topic Caregiver Tips.
  • Job stress.
  • A family member who is under stress.

Do I have recent major changes in my life?

Stress is an unavoidable part of life and can be good or bad. We routinely experience both types of stress when we go through life changes such as getting married, having a baby, or having a child move away from home.

How am I coping with stress?

Some behaviors and lifestyle choices can interfere with the ways your body seeks relief from stress. For example, as you sleep, your body recovers from the stresses of the day. If you are not getting enough sleep or your sleep is frequently interrupted, you are losing a chance to recover from stress. Your actions and behavior can be a sign of stress. Some people who face a lot of stress respond by smoking, drinking alcohol, or eating poorly. The health risks posed by these behaviors are made even worse by stress. Your body experiences stress-related wear and tear from two sources: the stress itself and the unhealthy habits you’ve developed to respond to stress.

Do my beliefs cause me stress?

Some people feel stressed because their beliefs conflict with the way they are living their life. Examine your beliefs to see if conflict between what you believe and what your life is like causes you stress. If you are not sure that you are stressed or are not sure what is making you feel the way you do, you need to discover what is causing stress. One way to do this is to keep a stress journal, a written record that can help you identify stressors so you can find better ways to cope with them.

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