Stressed Out!

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Stress has always been a part of our lives. Some stress is normal and even useful. Stress can make you push yourself when necessary. It can help you finish an important job assignment on time or it can help a young parent care for their sick baby or young child even if it means staying up most of the night.

However, if stress happens too often or lasts too long it can have negative effects on your physical and emotional well-being. It can cause chronic headaches, back pain or problems sleeping. It can make you feel moody, tense and adversely affect your relationship with others at home or at work.

Sometimes it is apparent what is causing your stress. All of us suffer from stress during a major life change, such as the loss of a loved one; other times, it may not be so clear why one feels stressed.

So what can we do to cope with chronic stress due to circumstances that may be out of our control?

Here are some coping skills recommended by doctors from major medical centers throughout the United States:

• Make a Schedule or List: Learn better ways to manage your time by making a daily or weekly list of things you have to do. Think about which things are most important and do those first.

• Think positively: Learn to think as if the glass is half-full and not half-empty. When thinking about your day dwell on the positive things you did that day and not on the one or two negative things you did.

• Take Care of Yourself: Eat better, exercisemore or just get outside after working all day for fresh air and a refreshing walk.

• Have a Social Support Network: This is made up of friends or family members that help provide the comfort of knowing you have someone there if you need them. The positive effects of a social support network include a sense of belonging and increased feelings of security.

• Embrace Your Spirituality: Try becoming closer to God through prayer, meditation and religious worship. It has many benefits that can help you connect to the world and expand your support network. Joining an organization like the Knights of Columbus or getting more involved will help you make friends who share similar religious beliefs and values. It can also bring you closer to your parish priest or council chaplain who can help you through stressful times in your life.