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Manage stress before it manages you

Effects of stress information graphic

Effects of stress information graphic

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. - Stress can be fairly terrifying at times and if not managed properly, it can be overbearing and affect your health.

There was a time when I struggled with controlling my stress and it began to negatively affect my eating habits, communication skills and my outlook on life. However, everything changed the day I learned to manage my stress and now I’m a better person and Airman for it.

The first step I took to take control of my stress was acknowledging that having stress is normal and everyone deals with it.

Stress is a part of daily life and in manageable doses it can actually be used as a motivational tool. Stress can be used to help accomplish daily challenges and achieve goals throughout your life. Studies have also shown that some stress can actually help fortify your immune system, improve how well your heart performs and protect you from infection.

It’s when you get overwhelmed and start drowning in stress that it becomes unhealthy. When people deal with too much stress over a long period of time, they can be affected by ailments such as headaches, anxiety, restlessness, fatigue, depression and other mental or physical afflictions.

This is why it is important to maintain control because if you don’t manage your stress, it will manage you.

When taking a break I believe it is crucial you don’t just stop (working), but incorporate something you enjoy doing as well. When your work day ends, rest is crucial but having fun is just as important. Some people may want to hit up a club, others may want to go for a drive or sit back and drink with friends.

I struggled for a long time to find the one thing that helped me relieve stress.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve struggled with controlling my stress. It would get so bad I’d have difficulty finishing a simple test because I was so scared of failure. Over time I improved my ability to work under stress, but never learned how to properly deal with the stress inside me.

It wasn’t until I spoke with a counselor in college that I was informed about how stress works and how I can reduce it. When I got off work or finished an assignment, I had to find ways to relax and disconnect during my time. So, I began searching for that one thing I desperately needed to help me finally calm down and relax.

It didn’t take me long to figure out what it is that I enjoy. I play video games with an online community with whom I have grown very close. The games vary from massive multiplayer online fantasy games to action role-playing single player games. When I jump into a game, I can feel any stress that has built up within me just melt away.

I know it may sound childish to say, “I play video games to reduce my stress” but that doesn’t matter. When you clock out for the day your time belongs to you, spend it the way you want. It doesn’t matter if others see your hobby as a waste of time, if it’s what you love doing, then feel free to indulge yourself.

Relieving the stress you built up today will help you better yourself tomorrow. You will find yourself well rested, able to jump into work better focused on current tasks and discover a more physically and mentally healthier version of yourself free from stress overloads.

I truly believe it’s important that everyone finds that one thing that makes them happy. So get out there and find what it is that you love to do and give yourself the break we all know you deserve.