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 Getting to Know Your Stress and How to Management It

Stress can harm your health by impairing your immune system and promoting disease. A stressor becomes harmful when an individual lacks an effective way of controlling it. Stress is also a common reason given for overeating or emotional eating. Some individuals tend to avoid physical activity when they are stressed out, too. Therefore, it’s important to recognize the signs of stress and find ways to manage stress to promote fitness.

1. What is stress? Any mental or physical stimulus that disrupts the body’s equilibrium—it can be positive or negative. Any change that you must adjust to. It can be:

a.      Environmental (noise, weather, traffic, time pressures, job performance standards)

b.      Physiological (illness, lack of sleep, poor diet, aging)

c.      Thoughts (worry, negative self-talk, fear)

Stress and How It Affects Your Mind and Body:

2. Stress is revealed through physical and emotional symptoms:

                                       Physical                                                                      Emotional




Tension headaches


Upset stomach

Feeling helpless

Difficulty sleeping

Loss of self-esteem

Tense muscles

Loss of concentration

Shortness of breath


Change in appetite


3. What are the signs you use to recognize stress? Use mindfulness (practice being aware of stress symptoms since they often become unconscious) See above for emotional and physical signs.

             Some Methods for Reducing Stress.  You Are Your Wisest Counselor


Predict it with awareness



Rest or Sleep

Look at self-talk

Physical activity

Emotional expression/Sharing

Relax/Deep breathing

Look at past experiences

Find support





Allow enough time




Anger management


Set realistic goals


Set healthy limits


Correct thinking distortions


Enjoy the beauty of nature

Pet an animal

Manage triggers: alter, avoid, accept

Balance time alone, with others, work, rest, and fun

© 2004, adapted with permission, Kaiser Permanente Northwest Health Education Services, Cultivating Health ™ Weight Management Kit


Lavish nourishing restorative techniques on yourself as you explore On-the-spot stress management techniques.


When we remind ourselves of the benefits for changing, it can help us get back on track. Note the benefits for physical activity. Physical activity can lessen stress, control blood pressure, decrease resting heart rate, etc. But it also helps to deal with stressful situations be increasing your mental sharpness, concentration, problem solving skills, and creativity. Shifting our attitudes will also help us overcome our resistance to doing exercise.


Stress is also a common reason given for overeating or emotional eating. Two out of three people eat more under stress. Plus, we don't usually overeat vegetables when we're stressed (Did you notice that "stressed" is "desserts" spelled backwards?) You can make small changes over time to improve your eating habits. Do your best to choose foods rich in nutrients when you are under stress--vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein, fat-free dairy, and healthy fats in moderation. Limit sugar, unhealthy fat, caffeine, and alcohol.



Exercise is like "mental floss". It cleans out the stress that is stuck in your brain!


What do you find helps manage stress for you?



  • gives the medical basis of stress, depression, anxiety, sleep problems, and drug use—explained in a fun, easy-to-read format. It's really excellent!

  • Learn 48 essential leadership skills at Also visit links at:

  • articles and tips for reducing stress

  • MBSR: Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction by Denice Gour. Find recorded meditations here:

  • Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness
    Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness (Paperback) by Jon Kabat-Zinn
    This book is also a terrific introduction for anyone who has considered meditating but was afraid it would be too difficult or would include religious practices they found foreign. Kabat-Zinn focuses on "mindfulness," a concept that involves living in the moment, paying attention, and simply "being" rather than "doing." While you can practice anything "mindfully," from taking a walk to cleaning your house, Kabat-Zinn presents several meditation techniques that focus the attention most clearly, whether it's on a simple phrase, your breathing, or various parts of your body. The book goes into detail about how hospital patients have either improved their health or simply come to feel better despite their illness by using these techniques, but these meditations can help anyone deal with stress and gain a calmer outlook on life.


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If you find that you are experiencing CHRONIC STRESS PATTERNS, that is a sign that your life is out of balance. Perhaps consider: Do you experience overwhelming circumstances and can't achieve a healthier weight?