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Stress – Be Aware & Proactive

By November 3, 2021News, News Position 1

STRESS…we all experience it, but did you know it can have a major impact on your health?

Chronic stress (ongoing and remaining in a prolonged or constant state of stress) can lead to life-threatening problems like hypertension, heart disease, poor immunity, feelings of doom, decreased mental endurance, and more.

While we can’t always control stress in our lives, we can control our experience and reactions to it.

What causes stress?

That is a loaded question! Each of us have different stresses present in our lives based on many factors including our level of ability to deal with certain situations. Stress is a built in response by our bodies, also known as the “fight or flight” response. Some common causes include:

  • Pressure at work
  • Unexpected expenses
  • Prolonged care of others
  • Illness or injury
  • Chronic pain
  • Emotional issues like depression, anger, low self-esteem
  • Traumatic events like violence, natural disasters, death

Recognizing the signs!

Some signs that you are over-stressed are strong and easy to recognize, but others can sneak up on us. If left unaddressed, stress can begin to weigh us down and even lead to major health concerns. We need to remember that everyone handles stress differently and our reactions will be different as well. With that in mind, the signs will also vary, but here are some common signs to watch for:

  • Not sleeping well
  • Changes in your eating habits
  • Headaches
  • Racing thoughts
  • Avoiding responsibilities
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Moodiness and easy anger
  • Feeling overwhelmed or feeling over-stimulated easily
  • Poor concentration or focus

Practical tips to cope with stress and respond appropriately

Taking control is important! Here are a few ideas to help calm your mind and respond in a more positive way:

  • Be mindful of your needs – you can’t be there for anyone else if you aren’t there for yourself first
  • Make time for regular exercise – even a daily walk can help reset and calm your mind and body
  • Find balance – evaluate your day and find ways refocus time where you can
  • Take a break – take a walk, find a quite place for meditation or deep breathing exercises, take time to read a book
  • Plan your night so you get the right amount of sleep and talk with your doctor if experiencing insomnia
  • Keep a journal to track how you are feeling and how you have responded to stress
  • Be sure to assess and mange your screen time with computers, phones, and the TV
  • Connect with those who bring you joy and support you, limiting exposure to those who add stress where you can
  • Start a hobby or create a group of like-minded people to spend time with
  • Overwhelmed by home or work tasks – make a list, breaking each activity down into bite-sized actions
  • If necessary, walk away – if in a heated argument, walk away to take time to put things in perspective
  • Maybe a change is needed – avoid, alter, adapt, accept…read more from the Mayo Clinic about the 4 As of stress relief
  • Remember that not everything is in your control, but that you can control how you respond

VERY IMPORTANT – if you find yourself unable to manage your stress by yourself, SEEK HELP!
Reach out to family and friends, visit with your primary care physician, find a professional you can talk with.

If things feel beyond repair, know that you are not alone!
Please reach the Prevention Lifeline 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255 or text MT to 741 741.
Learn more about resources in Montana.
Learn about resources at the national level.

Download this image and hang where it can be a great daily reminder!