Stress Awareness Month has been recognized every April since 1992, and this year it seems particularly important. Learning to cope with our stress and finding healthy ways to deal with difficult situations can go a long way in living a healthy and positive life.
What does stress mean to you? Some common reactions to a stressful event can include:
• Disbelief, shock and numbness
• Feeling sad, frustrated and helpless
• Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
• Headaches, back pains and stomach problems
• Smoking or the use of alcohol or drugs
Additionally, stress can affect more than just your mind. Long-term stress can cause headaches, stomach disorders, depression - even fatal consequences such as stroke and heart disease. It's important to recognize what issues are in our control to change and what's no - in other words, what is worth stressing about?
If the stress you are feeling cannot be changed, try to:
• Recognize when you don’t have control, and let it go.
• Avoid getting anxious about situations that you cannot change.
• Take control of your reactions and focus your mind on something that makes you feel calm and in control.
• Develop and maintain a vision for a healthy lifestyle and relationship with yourself. Set realistic goals to help you achieve this vision.
Here are some healthy ways that can help you cope with stress:
• Take care of yourself – eat healthy, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and give yourself a break if you feel stressed.
• Share your problems and how you are feeling with a family member, friend, doctor, or trusted confidant.
• Avoid drugs and alcohol. These can create additional problems and increase the stress you are already feeling.
• Recognize when you need more help – know when to talk to a psychologist, social worker or counselor if things continue.