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Stress is a non-negotiable part of our lives, and I believe that we can all stand to improve our stress management techniques. I think we also tend to forget that positive changes (such as getting married, moving, starting a new job, having a baby, or retiring) cause a significant amount of stress, in addition to the joy and excitement these changes bring. There are many ways to cope with stress more effectively, and we can personalize the approach we take, based on your interests and strengths. Perhaps you want to develop tools for managing your stress, such as learning more about the body's stress response, relaxation techniques, mindfulness, or meditation. Or maybe you would like to explore your relationship with stress, and get a clearer picture of your typical pattern in responding to life's stressors. We can also help you to incorporate avenues for stress reduction (such as increasing social support, exercise, creative outlets, and self-care) that can be very effective when you implement them in a meaningful way.

Stress is unavoidable. You might think that you need to avoid stress as much as possible, but actually a moderate level of stress (as long as it is manageable) can motivate you and stimulate you to meet your goals. Stress is a problem when it is chronic and unmanageable. It can affect you physically and emotionally and sometimes it can be difficult to recognize. I often hear people say, "Oh, I just need to push through this and then I'll rest" or "This isn't that big of a deal, I can handle it." The reality is that it IS a big deal! If you don't deal with it, it will eventually catch up with you one way or another. When you understand how stress affects you, what the main sources of stress are, and what you can do about it, you will see significant improvements in your overall well-being. Luckily there are many stress management techniques that are easy, fast, and effective that you can learn and start to apply to your life.

Kristen Morrison, Ph.D.
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Irina Banfi-Mare, Psy.D.
The Colorado Center
for Clinical Excellence