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Creating your
blueprint
for change
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WHAT IS STRESS
AND HOW DOES IT AFFECT US?

Stress is a fact of everyday life. It is our individual mind and body reaction to an externally or internally generated event and it is our physiological and/or psychological response to this event.

There are many different definitions of stress. Here, I offer you my definition and view on its symptoms and effects on the mind, body and spirit.

There are many different kinds of stress: mental stress: worry, anxiety, intellectual prowess, intense concentration, and problem solving. I would also add memory repetition, especially of an event or situation that causes pain or distress.

Physiological stress would include muscle or other body injury, surgery, extreme anxiety, nervousness, lack of proper nutrition or too much exercise.

In my opinion, there is also 'Spiritual stress', which would include mental pressure like religious anxiety, guilt, or an unsettlement within your own spiritual soul. When you lack a 'holistic' awareness of how the mind, body and spirit work in conjunction with one another, you can experience what I call an 'energetic imbalance', which can cause lethargy and lack of motivation and that 'feel good' factor for overall health and well-being.

Stress can stimulate us into activity and creativity and it can also add excitement and spice to our lives. The feeling a person gets right before he takes his first parachute jump is stressful, but one of exhilaration as opposed to negative fear. In opposition, a negative fear would be the feeling one gets before he has to have an injection, if he is afraid of needles. That adrenaline prepares us quickly for survival by 'fight or flight'. If not managed properly, stress can have serious implications.
Warning signs of Stress:

  • How many of these symptoms apply to you?
  • Not sleeping well Diarrhoea or Constipation
  • Headaches Lack of concentration
  • Muscle aches and pains Losing interest
  • Tearful or emotional Loss of appetite
  • Weak & tired Heart palpitations
  • Restlessness & frigidity Overeating
  • Impatient Stomach upsets
  • Flying off the handle Sleeping too much
  • Indigestion Spending too much time alone
  • Any of the above are warning signs that you may be suffering from the effects of stress. If you have several symptoms, you could consider speaking with your doctor and/or seeking my help.
THE STRESS AUDIT- Self Assessment

Stress and calmness are opposites but both are necessary for a full and balanced life. It is when stress is prominent that illness and disease can develop...headaches, anxiety, bad habits, ulcers, and IBS, just to name a few.

It is possible to learn how to cope with stress when you:
  • Take note of what causes you stress
  • Be aware of any warning signals, both physically and mentally
  • Learn how to take control using breathing techniques and 'time out' methods

Whatever you do, CHANGE what you are currently doing if it is not working. Try something new.
Let's look at Life and how Change can bring on Stress.

CHANGES IN LIFE: LIFE'S STRESSORS

Begin to glance back at your life over the past 6 to 12 months. Mark them on the list below. Note that some of your life changes may not be listed. Score an extra 10 for each one not listed. Add your score and see the notes below.
How did you add up?

When you review the above events, how do you feel about the ones you've circled? Are you happy, or are they still affecting you. If you scored less than 80 then you have had a not so stressful time of change in events within the past year. You are probably doing quite well balancing yourself on the scales of life change.

A score of 80 or above and it would be helpful to review the events themselves. You've had some major changes take place. How do you feel about them? About the way you've handled them? Take a look at what you've gained in experience from them. This will help to ease your mind. But also if there are any remaining problems around these particular areas, they may need to be dealt with effectively.

If some situations are unavoidable, then you may need to review what you can control and what you cannot. Life will throw things your way from time to time. Learning effective ways to deal with life's changes will eliminate or help you to manage stress much more easily, quickly and effectively.
Part of this scale was adapted from Homes and Rahe's Life Change Index, Journal of Psychosomatic Research Vol II.pp.213-218.
100
Death of partner or someone close
40
You've given up work to be a homemaker
80
Divorce or separation
29
Your child begins or ends school
75
Major surgery, illness or injury
35
Problems and changes at work
70
You've just married
45
Buying a house
80
You've been fired at work
65
Moving home
65
You've retired from work
35
Personal achievement accomplished
45
Reconciled with cohabitating partner
35
Change in lifelong habit
35
Sexual problems/difficulties
30
Change of friends and social life
40
Pregnancy
25
Christmas or other holiday
35
Trouble with your in-laws
25
Going on holiday
25
A child leaves home
15
Violations of the law
38
Major financial changes
10
Relatives visiting
45
Arguments with partner/spouse
15
You've started self-development
TOTAL
TOTAL
LIFESTYLE: CAN THE WAY I LIVE CAUSE ME STRESS?
The way in which you live can have an effect in part on how tense or relaxed you are in your everyday existence.
Y/N Do you tend to work more than 5 days per week?
Y/N Do you work more than 10 hours a day?
Y/N Are you a smoker?
Y/N Do you enjoy taking time off for leisure?
Y/N Do you take exercise at least 3 days per week?
Y/N Do you sleep for less than 7 hours a night?
Y/N Do you relax and take time out daily?
Y/N Do you talk openly with others about your life?
Y/N Do you do enjoyable things for relaxation?
Y/N Do you take a holiday period annually?
Y/N Do you seek help in order to help you balance a healthy lifestyle (yoga, therapist, meditation class)?
How did you answer the first 4 questions? If they are 'Yes', then this could be the start of making some changes to alter your daily lifestyle. We can only function for so long without proper rest and relaxation. Then we become wound up, agitated, attention deficit and drained. These are warning signs from our body, mind and spirit.
Ways to combat Stress:
1. Have an honest assessment of where and when stress impedes upon your life.
2. Accept that is affecting you.
3. Consider a step-by-step plan to relieve stress.
4. Agree on a plan that is manageable and feasible.
5. Prioritise getting your stress levels down.
6. Get support and help from those around you, family, friends or neighbours.
7. Consider incorporating a meditation or relaxation plan to every single day.
8. Stick to the plan.
9. Don't allow yourself to be upset if you miss a day.
10. Monitor your progress and reap the rewards.
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