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What…I Have Stress?
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What…I Have Stress?

By Pamela Shenk, CHt


Yes...you have stress...we all do. Can’t live with it and can’t live without it. Each and every day we deal with many types of stress. Some we can handle and some we cannot. The truth of the matter is, stress is not the problem. How we handle the stress is what really matters. According to the Holmes-Rahe Social Readjustment Scale, some of the most stressful situations can be:

- Death of a spouse

- Divorce/Separation

- Marriage

- Job loss

- Retirement

- Personal injury or illness

- Major change in health or behavior of a family member


The following are some of the common symptoms of stress that could send you to a healthcare professional: headaches, upset stomach, feeling you want to cry, tightness in your chest, sleep disturbance, mental or physical fatigue, irritability, anger or those dreaded carbohydrate cravings.


It might amaze you when you realize that you are totally stressed out by a particular situation but a friend in a similar situation doesn’t seemed stressed at all. Why is that? Remarkable as it may seem, we all process stress differently. As a bariatric surgery patient, you will experience various changes in your health. Most of these changes are extremely beneficial, yet your friends and family members may have difficulty adjusting to the “new you.” This too can be stressful. When facing stressful situations it is important to identify the stress. You may want to keep a stress diary to analyze and record occasions that were stressful. Were you dealing with anger or anxiety that caused a physical response like a sour stomach or headache? Jot down the time of day and the circumstances that led to your stress. Once you have done that, it is up to you to adjust the way your respond to stress. There is always another way; you just have to figure out what works best for you. Unfortunately, you can’t wish stress away, but you can change the way you handle it.

Keep an open mind and focus on the positive outcome of any stressful situation. Research has shown that humor is a very effective way to cope with stress and laughing releases the tension of pent up feelings. Some other ways to handle stress, naturally, are to do deep-breathing exercises, visualization and meditation. Additionally, there are many types of physical exercise you can do to help relieve stress as well as massage therapy, hypnosis, reiki, support from a friend and/or group support.


There are countless methods for reducing stress, but one of the best ways is to change your thoughts. What you think...you become. By taking back control of yourself and not blaming others, you are taking back control of your life. Stress can put you into a “fight or flight” mode. Change your perception and you can change your life.