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In today's world, stress is an unavoidable ogre

Most parents today live stress-filled lives. Thinking of all the things we have to do, our minds go a mile a minute. There seems to be no way to avoid stress in today's society.

Signs of stress include being easily irritated by things that wouldn't normally bother you; being angry about things over which you have no control, such as the weather or being stuck in traffic; feeling rushed and pressured to get things done in less time than is realistic; feeling frustrated or helpless because of not being able to keep up with the pace of life; feeling tightness in your neck muscles, shoulders or back; clenching your jaws or grinding your teeth; feeling constantly tired; and having headaches frequently.

Here are some strategies for dealing with stress: Develop the habit of making a list of things you have to do. An unspecific, vague sense of "having a lot to do" can wear you down. Making a list helps organize what tasks need to be done.

Make a list of what needs to be done immediately. Be realistic. Check off tasks as you finish them. A sense of accomplishment - even in getting small jobs done - can give a person renewed energy.

Give yourself more time than you think each task will take. Being rushed creates unnecessary pressure that ultimately saps energy. Make time for yourself. This includes planning regular breaks and looking after your own interests.

Keep notes on whatever helps you the most to de-stress. For some people, listening to music or looking at a particular scene can be relaxing. For others, a mental sound or picture - such as the sound of waves breaking on the seashore - is more effective.

Exercise regularly. Build some exercise program - even short, brisk walks - into your overall daily schedule. Treat regular exercise as a duty to yourself and others, rather than as an optional activity.

Find a friend with whom you can share the cause of your stress. This person must be a good listener whom you trust to protect your confidentiality.

Even though we cannot avoid stress in our busy society, we can deal with it on a daily basis.

Caroline Richardson is a county extension agent serving three counties. Her office is in Thomson.

Web posted on Thursday, November 03, 2011

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