Reducing The Stress in Your Life

What is stress and techniques to reduce stress in your life.

What is Stress?

Stress is the way that we respond to change in our lives. It is the way our bodies react physically, emotionally, cognitively, behaviorally to any change in the status quo. These changes do not have to be only negative things; positive change can also be stressful. Even imagined change can cause stress.

Stress is highly individual. A situation that one person may find stressful may not bother another person. Stress occurs when something happens that we feel imposes a demand on us. When we perceive that we cannot cope or feel inadequate to meet the demand we begin to feel stress.

Stress is not all bad. We need a certain amount of stress in our lives because it is stimulating and motivating. It gives us the energy to try harder and keeps us alert. When we find ourselves in situations that challenge us too much we react with the fight or flight stress response. Stress actually begins in our brains and it is expressed in our body. Once we perceive stress, our body sends our chemical messengers in the form of stress hormones to help our bodies handle the stress.

Chronic Stress

Stress hormones are important to help us meet the demands of stress occasionally but if they are repeatedly triggered disease will occur. Our body does signal us when we are we are experiencing the effects of chronic stress.

Physical Symptoms

  • Headaches
  • Tension
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle aches
  • Digestive upset
  • Restlessness
  • Appetite change
  • Alcohol, tobacco, drug use

Mental Symptoms

  • Forgetfulness
  • Low productivity
  • Confusion
  • Poor concentration
  • Lethargy
  • Negativity
  • Busy mind

Emotional Symptoms

  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Worrying
  • Little Joy
  • Anger
  • Resentment
  • Impatience

Social Symptoms

  • Lashing out
  • Decrease sex drive
  • Lack of intimacy
  • Isolation
  • Intolerance
  • Loneliness
  • Decrease in social activities
  • Desire to run away

Spiritual Symptoms

  • Apathy
  • Loss of direction
  • Emptiness
  • Loss of life's meaning
  • Cynicism
  • Unforgiving
  • Feelings of martyrdom

Managing Stress

Being able to manage stress is important in order to live healthy, happy and productive lives.

Negative Coping

Ignoring the problem, Withdrawal, Procrastination, Alcohol/drug use, Smoking, Overeating, Inactivity, Overcommitted, Buying things.

Positive Coping

Become aware of your reactions, Maintain a healthy balanced diet, Exercise regularly, Balance work and play, Practice relaxation techniques, Meditate Develop a support system, Pace yourself, Simplify your life.

Self-Care Techniques

Daily choices to care for oneself helps one?s feelings of worth, and increases a sense of well-being.

  • Deep slow diaphragmatic breathing
  • Listen to relaxation tapes
  • Avoid caffeine
  • Use positive affirmations
  • Do something you love
  • Allow extra time for projects
  • Leave work at the office
  • Do not ruminate over the past
  • Try to live in the present
  • Take brisk walks
  • Listen to your body's signals
  • Finish what you start

Do less, enjoy more

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2007, February 18). Reducing The Stress in Your Life, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 21 from

Last Updated: June 29, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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