Life is full of difficult decisions, nerve wracking deadlines, traffic jams, and bills, all of which often carry stress along with them. Despite the uncomfortable feeling, stress is a normal reaction to the ever present demands of life. Stress in controlled levels is often healthy and essential to success. However, as with many things, stress in high levels can cause a variety of problems from weight gain to high blood pressure.

Stress is a reaction to something that makes you feel threatened or upsets your natural balance in some way. A stressful event can trigger the “fight-or-flight” response, causing hormones such as adrenaline to surge through the body. Stress is your body’s way of naturally protecting you by helping you stay focused and energetic. In emergency situations, stress can even save your life, such as by causing a gut reaction to slam on the brakes to avoid an accident. However, it is important to control your stress to prevent it from damaging your health, mood, or relationships.

Stress can be controlled through effective management. It is important to know what causes your stress by looking closely at your habits, attitudes, and excuses. After identifying what causes your stress, take a look at how you currently cope with it. Unhealthy coping methods often involve smoking, overeating, withdrawing from relationships, or lashing out. By identifying these unhealthy habits, you can replace them with better reactions such as exercise or relaxation techniques.

If possible, you can avoid the stress factor entirely or change the situation by addressing it directly. Alternatively you can learn to accept the stressful situation or accept the things that you are unable to change. Every situation you encounter requires a unique approach, so step back and look at the situation as a whole to decide the best technique.

Unnecessary stress can often be avoided simply by making time for fun and relaxation. Take time to do something you love. Listen to music, call a close friend, or go for a walk. Taking time to step back will help you revitalize your senses and approach stressful situations with a fresh perspective. Additionally, encouraging healthy habits, such as proper diet and exercise, have been proven to effectively increase happiness and reduce stress. Especially with the beautiful weather we’ve been having this Spring, now is the perfect time to get outside and relax.

Don’t let stress control your life. Just have fun and take everything a day at a time!

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