Stress is a normal part of daily living, and moderate stress actually improves performance. Too much stress, however, can cause performance to deteriorate rapidly. Long-term exposure to excessive stress can severely compromise one’s physical, mental and emotional health.
How much stress is too much stress? That differs from person to person. Even good things can be stressful, like the demands of a new baby, a promotion, moving. Stress can become toxic when the demands of a situation exceed a person’s ability to deal with it.
Many external sources of stress cannot be controlled. Bills keep coming, relationships have conflicts, cars break down, and people get sick and die. Sometimes the stressor can be avoided or altered. If it cannot, it must be coped with as best one can.
The most important attribute you can bring to stress management is your attitude. Remember the old quote: Life is 10 % what happens to you and 90% what you make of it. Be kind to yourself and others in your self-talk and your thoughts. Holding yourself and others accountable is productive; endless criticism of self or others is toxic. Remember that the body makes no distinction between an actual stress and the mental replaying of it in your mind. Above all, recognize that life is unpredictable and constantly changing. Trying to resist the flow of life will only add to your stress.
Examples of healthy coping skills in one’s “toolbox” of stress management techniques might include mindfulness, breathwork, journaling, cardiovascular exercise, talking with a trusted friend, or soothing routines or rituals. Working with a mental health professional can assist in building and strengthening skills to manage stress.