Stress affects us in different ways.  There is a certain level of stress that is positive, energizing and motivational.  For example, taking a trip, starting a new job, or beginning a new relationship are examples of positive stress.  However, when stress is too high, it becomes immobilizing, harmful to our health, and emotionally damaging.  We all have early warning signs when stress is getting to high.  The earliest warning signs are physical symptoms we may fail to recognize as stress related.  We may find ourselves feeling tense in the neck, sleeping more poorly, or having more stomach problems.  Our second type of warning signs are behavioral.  We may increase use of substances to self-medicate (including food).  Addictive behaviors may also become more frequent (shopping, gambling, compulsive sexual activity).  Pay close attention to your physical cues and notice the signs of stress overload as quickly as possible.  Take steps to mitigate stress where you can.  Often we have a combination of stressors within our control and beyond our control.  Limit or eliminate the stressors within your control.  Stress management and prevention make up the very foundations of physical and emotional health.  Don’t neglect self care even if it means performing less than you prefer.  Your health is more important than your productivity or success.  Take care of yourself.

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