By Orly Katz, LCPC at Everyday Counseling and Coaching Services
We’ve all heard the importance of managing our stress. For those of us who have experienced uncontrollable stress, we are intimately familiar with the impacts on our mental functioning. But chronic stress doesn’t just damage our mental and emotional health. Due to the bodies’ responses to this phenomena, stress destroys so much more than we might be aware of. Take a look below at this video that describes these impacts in a bit more detail:
So what does this mean for us? While the act of managing stress (or, as the video puts it, perceiving life’s challenges as things that can be overcome) may sound simple, this can be extremely difficult for some of us, especially those who are accustomed to high amounts of stress in our lives. For now, let’s just focus on awareness – how much stress do you have in your life? What impacts has stress had on your health?
First, consider what might be going on in your life that is causing stress. This may include a series of major things, or smaller, everyday stressors that accumulate over time. You can find a wonderful stress assessment here, but bear in mind this doesn’t account for daily stress. Take several minutes to write down those stressors and what might be causing them, whether or not you can see a way to control the issue.
Once you’ve completed this list, make a second one – what impact have these stressors had on your health? Consider the information in the video above and write down those things that you are currently experiencing, or have in the past. Include all health issues, even if you don’t see a direct correlation to stress as the cause.
At this point, you’ll take a break from this work. Review your lists and reflect on them. Can you see the links between your stress and health? What would this list look like if your stress were better managed? What will happen if stress continues to dominate your life? Once you’ve answered these questions, the ability to commit to a stress-management plan will be much more successful.