Did you know that April is ‘Stress Awareness Month’? Stress is what you feel when you have more to handle than you are used to. When you are stressed, your body responds as though you are in danger. Your body speeds up your heart, makes you breathe faster, and gives you a burst of energy (the fight-or-flight response).
Some stress is normal and even useful. Stress can help if you need to work hard or react quickly, but if you have too much stress it can have bad effects. Stress can make you moody, tense, or depressed, it can often cause headaches, an upset stomach, back pain, and trouble sleeping. Stress can even weaken your immune system (making it harder to fight off illnesses) and if you already have a health problem, stress may make it worse.
Causes of STRESS
Sometimes it is clear where stress is coming from. You can count on stress during a major life change such as the death of a loved one, getting married (I can vouch for that one! Just kidding honey), or having a baby (can DEFINITELY vouch for that one, four times!). But other times it may not be so clear why you feel stressed. It’s important to figure out what causes stress for you. Everyone feels and responds to stress differently. Stress is a fact of life for most people. You may not be able to get rid of stress, but you can look for ways to lower it.
You might try some of these ideas:
- Learn better ways to manage your time. You may get more done with less stress if you make a schedule. Think about which things are most important, and do those first.
- Find better ways to cope. Look at how you have been dealing with stress. Think about other things that might work better.
- Take good care of yourself. Get plenty of rest. Eat well (talk to our Dietitians). Don’t smoke. Limit how much alcohol you drink.
- Try out new ways of thinking. When you find yourself starting to worry, try to stop the thoughts. Or write down your worries and work on letting go of things you cannot change. Learn to say “no.”
- Ask for help. People who have a strong network of family and friends manage stress better.
How to relieve STRESS
Sometimes stress is just too much to handle alone. Talking to a friend or family member may help, but you may also want to see a counselor.
You will feel better if you can find ways to get stress out of your system. The best ways to relieve stress are different for each person. Try some of these ideas to see which work for you:
- Exercise. Regular exercise is one of the best ways to manage stress. Walking is a great way to get started.
- Let your feelings out. Talk, laugh, cry, and express anger when you need to with someone you trust.
- Do something you enjoy. A hobby can help you relax. Volunteer work or work that helps others can be a great stress reliever.
- Learn ways to relax your body. This can include breathing exercises, muscle relaxation exercises, massage, aromatherapy, or yoga.
- Focus on the present. Try meditation and imagery exercises. Listen to relaxing music. Try to look for the humor in life. Don’t tell my fellow Pharmacists I said this, but laughter really can be the best medicine.
Pharmacy Clinical Program Mgr