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Self-Invest to Manage Stress

snowflakes

 

People can be like snowflakes; each one unique.  Two of the ways people differ from each other is in their perception of things that create stress, and in their ways of reacting to those stressors.  Something that creates an enormous amount of stress for one person may create very little stress for another person, or be considered an exciting challenge for a third person.  Personality type, resilience, life experiences, health status, and our mental and emotional resources all have a bearing on our perceptions of stressors and our ability to deal with them.

Stress that is short-term and provides inspiration or motivation can be positive.  Stress that comes from situations that are non-stopping or perceived as being non-stopping can be chronic, negative, harmful, “distressing,” and health-threatening.  Integrating healthy habits into our lifestyle is a proactive approach for coping with stress. 

A healthy lifestyle is one that puts us “at the top of our game.”  It means we have the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to protect and take care of ourselves to prevent illness, minimize stress, and engage in optimal functioning.  The lifestyle behaviors that help us cope with stress include nutrition, physical exercise, sleep, limiting smoking and alcohol use, and financial management.

Nutrition matters because food influences our physical, intellectual, emotional, and social functioning, including how we respond to stress.  Caffeine, monosodium glutamate (MSG), sugar, and saturated fats are stress-inducing foods.  The foods we identify as being “comfort foods” deserve careful consideration because they can add pounds and stress to our life.  We do ourselves a favor when we consume a healthy low-fat diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy products.

We do ourselves another favor when we incorporate physical activity into our daily life.  Exercise actually creates brain changes that promote emotional well-being, which is very beneficial for successfully coping with stressors in our lives.

Getting the recommended 7-9 hours of good quality sleep is another healthy lifestyle habit that bolsters our ability to cope with stress.

Using stimulants, including smoking and alcohol, may lead to addictions, causing the stress to get worse.  When a person is stressed, tobacco smoking will worsen the condition by increasing adrenaline production, which increases blood pressure, constricts blood vessels, and raises your heart rate.    

Knowing and using financial management strategies can help reduce stress and prevent stress-induced problems with sleep, appetite, addictions, self-destructive behaviors, and relationship conflicts.

As the saying goes, "The ball is in your court."  Assess your lifestyle habits.  If there’s room for improvement, focus on one thing at a time.  

If you or your friends, family, co-workers or employees would like to learn more about this topic through a presentation, lesson, program, activity or workshop, give me a call.  NDSU Extension has a lot to offer, and we are here to serve you!

Image source:  https://openclipart.org/image/300px/svg_to_png/174002/snowflakes2.png

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