A Checklist For Stress

Stress is a natural part of life. It can be both physical and mental and much of it can come from everyday pressures. Everyone handles stress differently, some better than others. Left unchecked, however, stress can cause physical, emotional, and behavioral disorders which can affect your health, vitality, and peace-of-mind, as well as personal and professional relationships.

Here is a checklist of negative reactions to stress and tension:

• Do minor problems and disappointments upset you excessively?
• Do the small pleasures of life fail to satisfy you?
• Are you unable to stop thinking of your worries?
• Do you feel inadequate or suffer from self-doubt?
• Are you constantly tired?
• Do you experience flashes of anger over a minor problem?
• Have you noticed a change in sleeping or eating patterns?
• Do you suffer from chronic pain, headaches, or back aches?

If you answered “yes” to most of these questions, consider the following suggestions for reducing or controlling stress:

• Be realistic. If you feel overwhelmed by some activities, learn to say NO!
• Shed the “superman/woman” urge. No one is perfect, so don’t expect perfection from yourself or others.
• Meditate for ten to twenty minutes.
• Visualize how you can manage a stressful situation more successfully.
• Take one thing at a time. Prioritize your tasks and focus on one at a time.
• Exercise regularly.
• Take on a hobby that will give you a break from your worries.
• Live a healthy lifestyle with good nutrition, adequate rest, regular exercise, limited caffeine and alcohol, and balanced work and play.
• Share your feelings with family and friends. Don’t try to cope alone.
• Give in occasionally. Be flexible.
• Go easy with criticism. You may expect too much of yourself and others.

If you think you have too much stress in your life, it may be helpful to talk with your doctor, spiritual advisor, or local mental health association. Because reactions to stress can be a factor in depression, anxiety and other disorders, they may suggest that you visit with a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, or other qualifed counselor.

For more information, call the National Mental Health Association at 800-969-NMHA.

Arthur Buchanan