Heartland Human Services

What Is Stress Anyway?
Kimi Haarmann MS ED, LCPC

First things first… what is stress and how do you know if you’re under it? Many people don’t realize that stress is a very important part of life. Without stress there would be no life at all. We need stress, but not too much stress for too long (which becomes distress).

Our body is designed to react to two types of stress. Good stress helps us be alert, motivates us to face challenges, and drives us to solve problems. These low levels of stress are manageable and can be thought of as necessary and normal stimulation.

Distress, on the other hand, results when our bodies overreact to events. It leads to what has been called a “fight or flight” reaction. Such reactions may have been useful a long time ago when our ancestors were frequently faced with life or death matters. Our bodies really don’t know the difference between a saber-toothed tiger and a teacher correcting our test. It is how we perceive and interpret the events of life that dictates how our bodies react.
When we view something as manageable, our body doesn’t go haywire; it remains alert, but not alarmed. Problems occur when we react too strongly or let the small overreactions pile up… we may run into physical problems or mental health problems.

What we all need is to learn how to approach matters in more realistic and reasonable ways. Strong reactions are better reserved for serious situations. Manageable reactions are better for the everyday issues that we all have to face.
One of the important steps to tackle stress is to organize your environment, and budget your time. Set a time table and work according to that schedule. You can’t have more than 24 hours in a day.
Think positively. Does negative thinking and worrying solve problems? Then, why worry over a matter in which you have no control of?

Your habits have a lot to do with your stress. Never postpone for tomorrow, what you can do today. Just do it now.
Remember, you can’t control what happens in life. You can just face the situation. On the physical side, have a regular exercising schedule. Set a goal and continuously work on it. Take enough rest, but not to the point of laziness!

Stress management can help you to either remove or change the source of stress, alter the way you view a stressful event, lower the impact that stress might have on your body, and teach you alternative ways of coping. Stress management therapy will have the objective of pursuing one or more of these approaches.

Stress management techniques can be gained if you read self-help books or attend a stress management course. You can also seek the help of a counselor or psychotherapist for personal development or therapy sessions.

Many therapies such as aromatherapy, or reflexology can help you relax and may have a beneficial effect.

Psychologists advise those who have feelings of depression lasting more than two weeks to seek professional advice.  If you or a loved one are experiencing  any symptoms of depression, contact Heartland Human Services at 217-347-7179 or take a free screening at www.heartlandhs.org