Everyone experiences stress at times. The National Institutes of Mental Health highlights three distinct kinds of stress:
- routine stress of work or school
- sudden stress of negative life events like job loss, divorce, or illness
- traumatic stress of an accident or natural disaster
If you’re feeling stressed, don’t ignore it. Some typical signs of stress include trouble sleeping, increased alcohol and other substance use, being easily angered, feeling depressed, or having low energy.
Sometimes stress can be beneficial by helping us focus attention and develop new skills. But more often, stress can cause anxiety and inhibit our ordinary ability to cope with problems. And continual stress can contribute to health problems like high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
A few simple things can help you manage stress and take control of your health.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol
- Get regular exercise. Even just a brisk daily walk can help boost your mood and reduce stress.
- Take a news holiday. Sometimes just avoiding the daily headlines can lift your spirits.
- Set realistic goals and priorities. At the end of the day, focus on what you accomplished, not what you were unable to do.
- Stay connected with people who can provide emotional and other support – your family, friends, and others in your communities.
Recognize when you need more help. If problems continue, talk to your health care provider about mental health options.
Stress may be a fact of life, but it doesn’t have to stop you from living yours to the fullest.