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Reduce Stress : Calculate Your Personal Stress Profile (part 2) - Your Stress Triggers

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6. Part II: Your Stress Triggers

Tally up how many As, Bs, Cs, and Ds you marked for this section. This will tell you if you are suffering from environmental, personal, physiological, or social stress. In many cases, you will discover a combination of two or even three of these. Environmental stress comes from the world around you. Personal stress is the stress that comes from your personal life. Physiological stress is the kind of stress that happens to your body. Social stress comes from your interactions and perceptions of others. Read the following sections for each letter that you checked more than once.

7. Two or More As: Environmental Stress

Whether you live in a polluted area, such as near a busy street or in a house with a smoker (or if you are a smoker), or are allergic to something in your surroundings, you’ll be exposed to environmental stress. Environmental stress is also the stress you feel when your environment changes. Maybe your neighborhood has changed a lot in the last few years. Maybe you are remodeling your home, or moving to a new home, or a new city. Changes in the household, such as the loss or gain of a family member or even a pet, are considered environmental stress. So is a marriage or a separation. These are also sources of personal and social stress, but they are environmental stress because they change the makeup of your household.

Environmental stressors are largely unavoidable, but there are techniques that can help you to turn them from stressors into nothing more than events. Here are some stress management techniques to try if you are particularly bothered by environmental stressors:

• Meditation (for perspective, distance from situation)

• Breathing exercises (for calming)

• Exercise/nutrition (strengthen physiological resources to combat environmental stress)

• Vitamin/mineral therapy, herbal medicine, homeopathy (to strengthen the immune system)

• Feng shui (to balance and promote the energy in your environment)

8. Two or More Bs: Personal Stress

This broad category covers everything from your personal perception of relationships to your self-esteem and feelings of self-worth. If you are unhappy with your personal appearance; have a negative body image; feel inadequate, unfulfilled, fearful, shy, and lacking in willpower or self control; have an eating disorder or addiction (also sources of physiological stress); or are in any way personally unhappy, you are suffering from personal stress. Even personal happiness can cause stress. If you are madly in love, just got married, were recently promoted, or just started the business of your dreams, you’ll also experience personal stress. Under these situations, it’s common to feel self-doubt, insecurity, or even overconfidence that can undermine success.

The most effective techniques for dealing with personal stress are those that help you to manage your own thoughts and emotions about yourself. Here are some techniques to try:

• Meditation

• Massage therapy

• Habit reshaping

• Relaxation techniques

• Visualization

• Optimism therapy

• Self-hypnosis

• Exercise (e.g., yoga, weight lifting)

• Creativity therapy

• Dream journaling

• Friend therapy

9. Two or More Cs: Physiological Stress

While all forms of stress result in a stress response in your body, some stress comes from physiological problems like illness and pain. You catch a cold or the flu and experience stress due to the illness. You break your wrist or sprain your ankle; that stresses your body, too. Arthritis, migraine headaches, cancer, heart attack—all of these physiological ailments, some mild, some serious, are forms of physiological stress.

Physiological stress also covers hormonal changes in the body, from PMS to pregnancy to menopause, as well as other changes or imbalances such as insomnia, chronic fatigue, depression, sexual dysfunction, eating disorders, and addictions. Addictions to substances that harm the body are a source of physiological stress. Misuse of alcohol, nicotine, and other drugs is stressful. Even prescription drugs can be a source of physiological stress. While relieving one condition, they may cause side effects that are stressful.

The best way to relieve physiological stress is to get to the source. Many stress management techniques directly address physiological stress. Here are some to try:

• Habit reshaping

• Nutrition/exercise balancing

• Massage therapy

• Visualization

• Relaxation techniques

• Mindfulness meditation

• Vitamin/herbal/homeopathic therapy

• Ayurveda

10. Two or More Ds: Social Stress

Social stress is stress related to your appearance in the world. Getting engaged, married, separated, or divorced, for example, while all sources of personal stress, are also sources of social stress because of the societal opinions and reactions to the forming and breaking up of the marital relationship. The same goes for becoming a parent, getting a promotion, losing a job, having an extramarital affair, coming into a lot of money, or losing a lot of money. Society has a lot to say about these events, which are bound to affect the opinion other people have of you, right or wrong, warranted or not. If social stress is a concern in your life, some good techniques for helping to equalize social stress include the following:

Exercise

Attitude adjustment

Visualization

Creativity therapy

Friend therapy

Habit reshaping

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