So, you're stressed out. You woke up to a blaring
alarm clock, got up and went to the kitchen only to realize you forgot
to get the coffee pot ready to go the night before. In my case, since I
don't drink coffee, I am sometimes apt to forget to put a few bottles
of Diet Pepsi into the refrigerator.

You trudge half awake to the shower and now you a
bit more awake. You start your commute to work only to hit a traffic
jam caused by an early morning accident during rush hour traffic.
Finally, when you arrive at your job the boss tells you of some new
development that has to be done yesterday. You spend most of the day
working on this project to get it done and in the can, only to find out
that after you're almost done with a majority of the work that some new
modifications have to be done.

Backtracking makes you end up
being at work two hours longer than you wanted to be. By then your
stomach is growling and as you wrap up the project for the day you
realize you skipped lunch. So you do what most American's do these days
and hit a fast food joint on the way home, thinking the high calories
and fat will give you an energy boost. Upon arriving at home you check
your mail, only to find out that your mortgage or rent is going up and
there is a new tax being added to your electric bill. You cope with the
day by hitting a bottle of booze and drink until you are relaxed enough
to go on with the rest of your evening.

This has become an almost painfully common place scenario in America these days. The synopsis in the previous paragraphs is a day in the life of one anonymous American. All over America
we are going through our own daily patterns of stress; what it does to
our bodies is not a pretty sight. How we choose to cope with stress and
allevieate the symptoms associated with it is another matter all

Stress is defined as a response of the mind and
body to adapt to any demand for change. Such a response can be acute,
cumulative or chronic. Stress can affect us emotionally in the form of
depression and behaviorally in the increased use of alcohol, tobacco
and drugs. Sexual problems, overeating and under eating may also be
indicators. A few of the many physical symptoms associated with stress
are pounding heart, grinding teeth, gastrointestinal problems, stiff
neck or aching lower back, and frequent colds or low grade infections.

A checklist you can employ when trying to handle stress is as follows:

  1. Identify the stressor; what is distressing me?
  2. What am I willing to do about it?
  3. How am I handling it?
  4. What am I going to do about it?
  5. How have I put my plan into action?
  6. Finally doing something about it.

Some things you can do to keep stress at bay
include meditation, getting enough sleep or finding a creative outlet
such as writing or art. I personally have employed writing and
meditation as two must-haves in my stress management techniques. I also
enjoy designing with Corel's Paint Shop Pro 9.

Next week I will talk more about meditation and
how it can help with stress management. I will also discuss some other
things such as aromatherapy and the use of candle energy.