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Stress is something that every person encounters in life; relationships, weddings, jobs, births, finances, vacations, deaths, etc. all create stress.  Some events might be happy, positive events, like having a baby, but they still can be stressful.  According to the Mayo Clinic, stress effects our bodies physically, mentally and behaviorally.

Common effects of stress on your body:road sign - one pointing right with the word stress and one point left with the word relax

  • Headache
  • Muscle tension or pain
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Change in sex drive
  • Stomach upset
  • Sleep problems

Common effects of stress on mood:

  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Lack of motivation or focus
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Irritability or anger
  • Sadness or depression

Common effects of stress on your behavior:

  • Overeating or underrating
  • Angry outbursts
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Tobacco use
  • Social withdrawal
  • Exercising less often

If stress isn’t managed properly it can wreak havoc on your body.  Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Southern California, Kim Goodman says “Chronic stress can lead to depression, anxiety, low tolerance levels and interpersonal relationship challenges.”    Our ability to effectively cope with stress is determined by how we respond to it.  Jack Canfield developed a formula to explain this concept E (event) +R (response) = O (outcome).  He states “every outcome you experience in life is the result of how you have responded to an earlier event in your life.  Likewise, if you want to change the results you get in the future, you must change how you respond to events in your life…starting today”.   Here is an example of putting this formula into practice:  you’re stuck in traffic (E) + you cuss, beep your horn and yell out the window (R) = your angry, anxious, experience muscle tension and your blood pressure increases (O).  Now let’s use the same scenerio but change our response and see if the outcome is different.  You’re stuck in traffic (E) + you turn on some music, maybe return phone calls or spend the time contacting a friend you haven’t had time to connect with (R) = you remain calm and relaxed and your productive.   It really isn’t about the event/situation, rather it’s about YOUR response to it that determines what the outcome will be and whether stress controls you or you control your stress. 

So what are some self-care practices that will help improve the way we respond to different events/situations?

  • Exercise daily
  • Eat well
  • Get enough sleep
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs
  • Practice relaxation exercises
  • Take time for yourself

Remember, you have a choice in how you respond to stress and the toll it will take on your physical, mental and behavior health.  So choose wisely!

Resources:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-symptoms/art-20050987

https://dworakpeck.usc.edu/news/why-stress-management-important-self-care-tips-anyone-can-put-practice

https://www.jackcanfield.com/blog/the-formula-that-puts-you-in-control-of-success/

https://www.nami.org/Find-Support/Family-Members-and-Caregivers/Taking-Care-of-Yourself

Written by: Lorrissa Dunfee, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Belmont County

Reviewed by: Alisha Barton, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Miami County

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