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Do you know what stresses you out? If you don’t, you need to find out because stress can manifest itself in many physical ways. High stress levels can cause health problems such as migraine or tension-induced headaches, insomnia, nightmares, sexual dysfunction, anxiety, neck or shoulder pains, skin problems, sweating, poor concentration, frequent colds or flu, and irrational behavior.
According to Dr. Grace Cornish, author of 10 Good Choices That Empower Black Women’s Lives (Crown Publishing, $21), to better handle your stress, “Pinpoint the situations that make you feel tense.” They could include work challenges, major lifestyle changes, minor irritations, family issues, or any combination. Once you identify the problems, you must make adjustments to ease the tension. See chart below on tips to help you battle stress.
Stress Triggers and Stress Relievers
|Working too hard||Yelling at co-workers, missing deadlines, being overly agitated, feeling overwhelmed, underperforming||Tell others how you’re feeling and ask for help. Learn to delegate. Take breaks during the day and stop skipping lunch. Take a vacation day. Putting distance between you and your work can do wonders.|
|Overcommitting yourself||Missing obligations, feeling cheated for denying your own wants, blaming others because you keep breaking your promises, excessive lateness, being overly tired||Learn to say “No.” Know that you have the right to change your mind if you give people enough time to make other plans or offer a better solution — just don’t make this a habit. Ensure that you schedule enough time to realistically complete an obligation.|
|Disorganized||Lost keys, misplaced paperwork, untidy work or home area, missed [appointments], or other inconveniences that could have been avoided||Take a time management course. Consult a professional about better organizing your life. Learn to put keys, phone books, or other items you use regularly back in their [proper] place.|
|Financially crunched||Bounced checks, late payment notices, maxed-out credit cards, calls or letters from bill collectors, a feeling of embarrassment about your financial situation||Set a budget and stick to it. Avoid impulse purchases. Only purchase the items from your list when you go food shopping. Start taking your lunch to work and rent movies instead of going to the theater.|
|Lonely||Depression, jealously, anger, resentment, isolation||Start getting out more. Join a social club, take a class, or invite a friend or co-worker to lunch. Host a small mixer at a nearby hang out or in your home.|
|Bad habits||Excessive lateness, poor presentations, inconsiderate gestures, petty arguments, feeling as if you’re always running behind schedule||Practice better planning. Leave earlier, go to bed earlier, write important things down, and treat others as you want to be treated.|
|Unfulfilling relationships||Poor communication, arguments, unloving exchanges, use of degrading language, lack of support||Don’t spend any time with people who encourage you to argue, lie, gossip, whine, or wallow in misery. The majority of your day should be with people who will further your destiny and allow you to further theirs.|
|Unsupportive environments||Allowing gossipers