Stress is not technically a disease. It is the body’s automatic response to a perceived external threat or unexpected change. The response may be physical, emotional, or cognitive, but our early ancestors’ only survival option was the automatic ‘fight or flight’ reaction.

Even though we now have many more ways to cope with threats and change, the stress reaction is so ingrained that we need to find other ways to cope; fight or flight is no longer the only option.

Short bursts of stress are essential to avoid a traffic accident, protect a child from injury, or meet a work or domestic deadline. They are helpful because they initiate autonomic (involuntary) reactions in our nervous system, e.g., adrenalin, which enables us to respond rapidly and instinctively. It does us no harm to experience the occasional bursts of stress. They keep us on our toes, and like repetitions in sports or playing an instrument, they help us develop our ability to resist pressure, absorb stress, and take the strain.

However, chronic stress (long-term) or extended periods of stress can contribute to health problems like high blood pressure, heart disease, anxiety disorders, and gastrointestinal disorders.

Why? Because the small quantities of stimulants that enable the ‘fight or flight’ reaction are damaging when produced in large or too frequent doses.

External changes are the primary triggers of stress. We feel stress when we cannot adapt quickly enough or do not wish to adjust to those changes.

Do you feel stressed?  It is perfectly understandable!  Almost anything that interferes with our everyday routines creates stress, and anything that threatens you or your loved ones is a threat. To worry about a possible threat is natural and positive. And you are not alone.

The American Psychological Association reports that more than three-quarters of adults report symptoms of stress, including headache, tiredness, or sleeping problems. The APA also states that half of all U.S. adults (49%) say stress has negatively affected their behavior.

JUST FOR A MOMENT, think about something that routinely stresses you.  How do you manage that? The most frequently cited stressful events are ‘holidays’ and ‘Christmas.’  The way to deal with both is to PLAN.  The same applies to any changes at work or in the home routine (habit) enforced by circumstances beyond your control.  You need a new PLAN! A plan that takes account of your changed circumstances.

Loss of control is one of the leading causes of stress.

Having a plan (and sticking to it) will help you take control.  Part of your plan should include identifying the causes of stress – not just a vague “Thoughts of Christmas stress me.”  Itemize the individual causes.

Make your list as long as it needs to be.

Now, cross off things you can’t do anything about!  It won’t stop you from worrying about them, but you will be better off concentrating on the things YOU CAN AFFECT!

Making lists won’t make the stress go away, but identifying the causes of your stress can make you more resilient – help you to cope with the strain,

Here are some suggestions about what you can affect and how they can help you use your resources to become more resilient to stress. 

  • BE PROACTIVE. Action may not make stress disappear, but inaction may worsen it.  If you have time on your hands, keep on your feet!  Even watching TV, find a reason to move about at least once every 15 minutes. Don’t brood!
  • CONNECT WITH PEOPLE: Involve others, a friend, colleague, or family member. If you are alone, try to continue your typical day’s contact with friends, family, or colleagues by mobile or online.  AND whoever you are talking to, the kids or neighbors, see how long you can go without beginning a sentence with the word ‘I.’  HINT: try to start your conversations with a question!
  • GET THINGS DONE: all those things you have been threatening to do ‘when I have time,’ set a goal (that includes a start and finish by date) AND DO THEM.  Meeting your goals, even small ones, will give you satisfaction, a sense of achievement, something to boast about, and one less thing to stress about!
  • HELP OTHER PEOPLE: of course, it is a truism to say that there is always someone worse off than yourself.  For example, – if you have to go shopping, ask yourself, can I save someone else from making a journey?
  • OLD WIVES’ TALES: Early to bed and early to rise makes you healthy, wealthy, and wise.  Early to bed won’t do it alone, but research confirms the rhyme.  We will not add to the ‘list’ of suggestions for achieving this happy state. Still, in common with most authorities, we suggest not drinking coffee (caffeine) less than 4 hours before your planned bedtime and that drinking alcohol may help to put you to sleep, but it will NOT help you to sleep WELL!

Laughter is the best medicine

Research shows that laughter has physical benefits, attitudinal (psychological) benefits, and social (interpersonal) benefits


Laughing stimulates hormone activity, which

  • Boosts immunity
  • Lowers stress
  • Decreases pain
  • Relaxes muscles


Laughter is a response to intellectual stimulus, which

  • Relieves stress
  • Eases anxiety and tension
  • Strengthens resilience
  • Improves mood
  • Adds joy and zest to life


Laugh, and the world laughs with you. Laughter:

  • Strengthens relationships
  • Can defuse conflicts, reduce stress
  • Promotes personal bonding
  • Enhances teamwork

If you take nothing else away from this article, please take this: you should not worry about worrying. To worry is to be concerned about the future—that is normal!

Share your worries- you can even share them with us.

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