Understanding and Managing Stress

Stress can play a significant role in negatively impacting an individual’s life. Physical and mental health approaches to stress management should be adopted to help reduce the negative effects of stress and improve overall health. The Healthy Lifestyle Center incorporates an interprofessional approach to helping individual’s take ownership and control of their health.  Stress is a normal response that occurs in the body when presented with a real or perceived threat.  Stress can be dangerous, however, when it interferes with the ability to live a normal life.  Typical symptoms of stress include exhaustion, loss of concentration, irritability, muscle tension, headaches, and ulcers.  Anxiety disorders are the most diagnosed mental illness worldwide. Additionally, the US, researchers have found that 39% of people are more anxious this year than last.  Further, 86% of their sample believe that our mental health affects our physical health.  It is important to address and manage stress to live a healthy life.

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Clinicians outline a few tips for helping to manage stress.  First, it is important to understand how you stress.  Do you experience more physical or mental symptoms? Where in your body do you carry your stress?  Second, we have to identify our sources of stress.  If we can identify the triggers or causes of stress, we can better approach positive ways of managing the stress.  Third, it is critical to learn our own stress signals.  When do we start noticing that we are experiencing stress?  This will help give us an idea of when it is appropriate to use different stress management techniques.  Finally, we need to recognize how we deal with stress and whether we use positive or negative coping strategies.  Negative coping strategies might include drinking alcohol, over eating, or staying in bed all day.  We want to work to identify positive coping strategies for deal with stress so we can promote a healthy life.

We can help manage stress by practicing and adopting healthy lifestyle behaviors. These include eating right, practicing good sleep hygiene, getting regular physical activity, taking appropriate medication, and practicing mindfulness-based stress reduction.  By adopting these healthy lifestyle behaviors, we can help manage our stress more efficiently and effectively as well as living a healthier life.  The Healthy Lifestyle Center can help by providing education on healthy lifestyle behaviors and can help teach and guide you through healthy stress management techniques.

By Matt Lewandowski


Sources: American Psychological Association, retrieved from http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/index.aspx; Brooks, M. (May 7, 2018). High anxiety in America: APA poll highlights nationwide worries. 

Retrieved from https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/896319?nlid=122308_3901&src=wnl_newsalrt_180508_MSCPEDIT&uac=27500FN&impID=1627683&faf=1; How Stress Affects The Body. Retrieved from: https://adrenalfatigue.org/stress-and-your-health/got-stress/stress-affects-body/