Everyone experiences both good and bad stress. It can come from mental activity (for example, working on a research paper), emotional activity (having a milestone birthday), or physical activity (taking a walk).
The way you interpret stress is unique and personal. What may be relaxing to one person may be stressful to another. Good stress can be healthy and useful. It helps you get to an appointment on time or meet a deadline. When stress becomes overwhelming, it becomes distress.
Bad stress can lead to chronic stress, which can leave you feeling nervous, on-edge and tense. It also puts you at greater risk for numerous health problems, including heart disease, sleep problems, digestive problems, depression, obesity and memory impairment.
No single method works for everyone or in every situation to manage stress; therefore, it is important to experiment with different stress-reduction strategies to lessen your feelings of stress. Focus on what makes you feel calm and in control. A common strategy for dealing with a stressful situation is to avoid the stressor or alter the stressor.
Some things you just can’t change. These are the things that you need to learn to accept instead of letting them bother you.
The need to be “right” often interferes with good communication and can cause stress when you are so focused on what the other person is doing. If you ask someone to change, you need to be willing to change yourself.
Let it go. Ask yourself, “Does it really matter? Will it matter in five years?” Sometimes you have to pick your battles.
Having realistic expectations of yourself, shifting your focus to looking at what is really important, and taking care of yourself emotionally and physically will also increase your confidence to deal with stressors. Sometimes, taking a deep breath, meditating, relaxing or taking time to smell the roses allows you to appreciate the little things so you don’t overreact to the big things.
Stress should not rule your life. Learning what causes stress and different ways you can cope with it is a healthy lifestyle behavior that will reduce pressure and anxiety and influence optimal aging.