Stress Management

By Carol Gooch, M.S., LPC, LCDC, LMFT Managing stress is about taking charge of your thoughts, your emotions, your schedule, your environment, and the way you deal with problems. The ultimate goal is a balanced life around personal and professional responsibilities. At times, some stress can be beneficial because it produces a boost that gives you energy to get through tough situations. But, an extreme amount of stress can be harmful to your health. As a mental health professional, I see people who are anxious, have insomnia, depression and suicidal thoughts due to stress related situations. My medical colleagues see people with muscle pain, high blood pressure, a weakened immune system and other major illnesses like heart disease and obesity all due to years of stress. Stress management starts with identifying the sources of stress in your life. To identify your sources of stress, look closely at your habits, attitude, and excuses. Explaining away stress can lead to problems because you are not dealing with the situation. Defining stress as just a part of your life or personality can lead to physical and emotional issues if not handled properly. Blaming your stress on other people or outside events will only prolong the stress in your life. You must take responsibility for the role you play in creating and maintaining your stress level or else it will continually remain outside your control. Writing down what caused your stress, how you felt, both physically and emotionally, how you reacted and how you made yourself feel better will help you identify stress patterns. Then you can start working on coping strategies. Certain...