Dear Life Coach,
Cracking Head (CH)
Constant headaches have caused you to be extremely uncomfortable and it is now interfering with your work.
What’s Going On:
Here are some things that may be going on in your life that contributes to your present situation: tension headache, stress, and stress management. I will address these briefly.
Tension headaches are due to stress and occur when the muscles in the head and neck become tight. This is one way our bodies respond in a physical way to something that is psychological (e.g. a broken relationship).
Stress is a mental and physical condition that occurs when an individual must adjust to something (stressors e.g. relational problems) in his or her environment. Some stressors (e.g. getting married) are good stressors (eustress), while other stressors (e.g. family conflicts) are bad stressors (distress) and the latter over time can cause health problems (e.g. hypertension) if prolonged.
How to Set Things Right:
Identify the Stress in your Life
Figure out what is causing you to be stressed (relationship, family, work). Eliminate stressors that you are able to eliminate, and develop strategies to reduce stressors that you are unable to eliminate.
Coping with Stress
Stress is a part of our daily lives and it is unavoidable. However, there are multiple ways in which we can help to reduce the stress in our lives. Here are some stress-reduction strategies:
Biofeedback: Teaching an individual to use mental control (thought processes) to regulate bodily functions (e.g. blood pressure), which in turn reduces muscle tension.
Cognitive-Coping Training: Re-training the brain to view situations positively, using a reward system.
Relaxation Training: Contracting and relaxing the muscle groups in the body in a progressive fashion (from feet to head) while breathing deeply.
Meditation: Visualizing pleasant experiences (e.g. a happy day at the beach) coupled with relaxation exercise.
Exercise: Doing physical activities (e.g. aerobics) at least three times per week for at least half an hour.
Connect with Loved One: We are born with a need for affiliation (connection to one another). Talking with those who love and accept us is a natural stress reliever, as it provides inter-stimulation and we should ensure that we connect on a weekly basis.
Diet: If you are missing meals, eating junk foods or excessive amounts of sweet foods, then your stress level will increase. So, ensure that you eat dark green, leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, and lean meat daily.
Sleep: Sleep deprivation results in poor concentration, low frustration tolerance and stress. So, ensure that you get eight hours of sleep each night.
Work: A hostile work environment (e.g. sexual harassment), as well as work that is overly demanding or boring create stress. So, if this is the case, you may want to consider finding another job or finding ways to reduce work related stress.
Family Conflicts: Family conflicts are extremely stressful, due to strong bonds and close proximity; so, resolving conflicts quickly is crucial. Good communication skills, fighting fair, forgiveness, and being able to say ‘I am sorry’ genuinely will facilitate this process.
Type A Personality: Some individuals have the tendency to be driven (e.g. always rushing) and hot-tempered (Type A Personality) and are more likely to be stressed and to develop heart problems. By contrast individuals who are more laid back and calm (Type B Personality) are less likely to develop such conditions. So, note which personality tendency you have and try to remain calm if this is not your tendency.
Positive Mental Outlook: As individuals we have the tendency to see things either negatively (seeing the cup half-empty) or positively (seeing the cup half-full). Having a negative outlook tends to be stressful since everything is perceived as a problem. Remember, prolonged stress leads to ill-health. So, individuals who are able to see the bright side of things (e.g. an opportunity in every disaster), tend to have happier, healthier and longer lives. So, try to see the good in every situation.
CH, some stress-reducing strategies require the assistance of trained personnel; others you can execute on your own. So, start today and keep your stress at bay. All the best.
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