This is a brief departure from the prior pattern of
taking one topic and exploring its complexities twice during
the month. Your doctor and/or mental health practitioner
is the best source of information about how stress may be
affecting your health.
Stressful Life Events:
As September's discussion of different forms of exercise
revealed, some forms of stress can actually be beneficial to
our health. Just as some levels or intensities of
physical exercise can be excessively stressful to some of us
and not stressful enough for others of us, so too are the
effects of the same life events a matter of individual
differences in their effects on our mental and physical
With the exception of pain and disease,
the majority of life events that we face are only stressful to
us as a consequence of how we interpret or categorize
them. For some of us promotions at work, birth of a
child, purchasing a new home or relocating to a new city may
be seen as positive stressors and adding anticipation and
excitement to life. To others the same life events may
be viewed with dread and anxiety because these same life
events cause us to adopt new behaviors, systems, habits and
approaches to life and are thus associated with confrontation,
frustration and sorrow. Our goal here is not to eliminate
stress but to learn how to manage it and how to use it to help
us. Not having enough stress can leave us feeling bored.
Conversely, excessive and unrelieved stress may leave us
feeling overwhelmed, sleeping poorly and may even predispose
us to having a heart attack. Our challenge is to find
the optimal level of stress which will individually motivate
but not overwhelm each of us.
Stress: Its many
sources and some management strategies - Life events and our
associations to them come in an infinite variety.
Effective management of our exposure to and interpretation of
these live events is essential if we are to avoid the harmful
psychological and physical effects of excessive and unrelieved
stress. However, all effective stress management
strategies require work toward change: changing the source of
stress and/or changing our reaction to it.
of your personal stressful life events and your emotional and
physical reactions to them.
Pray early and often (e.g.,
"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot
change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom
to know the difference.")
Learn and practice moderating
your emotional and physical reactions to stress.
Exercise regularly, eat in moderation and maintain your ideal
Limit the responsibilities you take on
particularly during holiday seasons that are already
overloaded with your own expectations and the expectations of
Develop and maintain mutually supportive
Should you have concerns or want
additional information about the material presented above,
please contact your local health care provider, public health
department, mental health center or someone on the Grace
Church Health and Wellness Ministry Committee. This
Committee is chaired by Mrs. Florence Poyer, R.N.
by: Walter S. Handy, Ph.D.
Member, Grace Church Health and
Wellness Ministry Committee