By Bamidele Abiodun
Everyone deals with stress to some degree, from very slight to extreme cases. Stress can come from anywhere—from personal problems with health issues, relationships, or life changes to social problems that affect your surroundings, job-related issues or unemployment, even including problems caused by post-traumatic stress disorder from tragedies.
Such stresses are serious matters. According to WebMD, “stress can play a part in medical problems such as headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety.” In addition, “the lifetime prevalence of an emotional disorder is more than 50% due to chronic, untreated stress reactions.” In other words, if untreated, stress can negatively affect your physical and mental health. So when the stresses of life come—and they undoubtedly will—it is important to understand that this is normal and then find ways to cope in healthy and constructive ways.
While there are many things you can do to help manage your stress, many health professionals recommend the following:
- Communicate with people you trust (confidentially if you like), letting them know how you are feeling. It’s good to get things off of your chest and be heard by people who care. However, you may need to talk to a physician or therapist.
- Relax and have some “you” time. Listen to music, meditate, or learn relaxation techniques. Try yoga or Tai Chi. Practice escapism to clear your head.
- Get enough sleep to allow your mind and body to recuperate and recover.
- Take deep slow breaths to calm the mind and body.
- Learn your stress triggers. Identify the people, places, things, and circumstances that cause your psychological and emotional discomfort. Once you do this you can begin to practice your coping skills to try to relieve the stress.
- Eat healthy meals. Without overeating, fuel your body with the best foods so you can be at your best.
- Limit alcohol and caffeine, which can aggravate stress-related conditions such as anxiety and cause panic attacks.
- Exercise daily, which gets your “feel-good” endorphins pumping.
At the end of the day, remember this: Health is wealth and stress is a mess. Manage the stress; don’t let it manage you. If you need more information on stress management or are overwhelmed, REMEMBER to seek professional help from a physician or counselor.