Throughout our lives, we experience stress. Whether it’s due to a short deadline at work or an alarming medical diagnosis, stress can wreak havoc on our emotions and bodies. Fortunately, however, there are several ways to help manage stress and sometimes prevent it altogether.
The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) notes that stress is brought on by the body’s instinct to defend itself. Just as many different types of events can cause feelings of anxiety and worry, individuals respond differently to specific situations. Many people feel stressed when they retire, for example, while others feel a sense of relief. Possible signs of stress identified by the AAFP include depression, headaches, back pain, shortness of breath, insomnia and weight gain or loss. Learn more from the AAFP at www.familydoctor.org.
It’s no secret that work is a major source of stress for many people. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has established a research program to better understand the impact of stress in the workplace. At www.cdc.gov, you can download a NIOSH survey that asks questions about your work schedule, pay, overtime and whether you feel the environment is a safe, respectful place. If you feel your job might be causing you unnecessary anxiety, take the survey to see if you can pinpoint the root of your issue. Knowing exactly what triggers stress can help you remedy the problem.
There are several ways to manage stress. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), there are many simple, yet effective strategies. Small steps include things like deep breathing, taking a hot bath and talking to a friend or family member about how you’re feeling. On a day-to-day basis, the HHS recommends staying ahead of stress with to-do lists, healthy eating and physical activity. At www.healthfinder.gov, you can find information on stretches to do at your desk, as well as deep breathing exercises. If you feel like your stress is starting to significantly interfere with your every day life, talk to your doctor about further options.
Both the federal government and private research facilities are working hard to educate the public about the causes and consequences of stress. You’ll find plenty of resources and tips to help you when you feel like you’re in over your head. Even if you’re dealing with a specific form of stress, there’s help out there: Post-traumatic stress disorder sufferers, for example, can find info from the National Institute of Mental Health (www.nimh.nih.gov) while women can get useful stress managing tips at www.womenshealth.gov.