Stress & It’s Effects On Our Health

April is stress awareness month.

Common Effects of Stress

A lot of common symptoms that are blamed on illness, such as headaches, insomnia, and fatigue, are actually caused by stress. It is important to be aware of how stress is effecting your health, because left unchecked it can lead to worse problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes according to the Mayo Clinic. Our mood and behavior can also be negatively effected by stress. Anxiety, restlessness, lack of motivation, irritability and sadness just to name a few, can make life miserable.

Act Now to Manage Stress

Now that you know how bad stress can be to your health and overall wellness, it’s time to reap the benefits of managing your stress by setting up your strategic plan for success!

  • Exercise regularly: 30-60 mins of physical activity everyday will help you mentally and physically handle stressful situations. It can literally change the chemistry in your brain to make you feel calmer, rested and happier.
  • Relaxation: The Mayo Clinic recommends relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, tai chi or massage. Experiment with different types of techniques to discover which works best for you. Making time for relaxing helps lower blood pressure and gives an overall sense of peace and wellness that contributes to managing stress.
  • Spend time with friends and family: Isolation is not a friend to wellness.
  • Make time for hobbies: Reading, music, painting or whatever makes you happy is a good investment in your health.
If we only had a dollar for each time a person has told us that they would like to do these things, but just don’t have the time, we’d be a very wealthy therapists!  Make time to take care of yourself or the time that you do have for yourself won’t be very pleasant as the symptoms of stress creep in over the years of neglect.  An hour a day of stress reducing activity can pay you back with hours of productivity, wellness and ultimately that sense of overall well-being that we all crave and need. Sounds like a worthy investment of your time and money!

Some other simple ways to help manage stress is to get plenty of sleep, eat a healthy balanced diet and avoid tobacco use, excess caffeine, alcohol and illegal substances. Another important component to your wellness is to regularly see your health provider for check ups. Be sure to mention to them the symptoms that you are experiencing to confirm that stress is the cause of your symptoms and not some underlying health concern. 
If after 3-6 months of following the above suggestions, including a visit to your doctor, you are still experiencing the negative symptoms of stress, seeing a professional counselor or therapist can help you identify sources of stress and learn new coping tools.

Here’s to your health!

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