Feeling stressed out? That can be hard on your health. Dr. Randolph Reister shares advice about recognizing and managing stress:
“We all feel a little stress from time to time. It’s a normal part of balancing school and work, family and friends, hobbies and activities. That feeling of being busy can actually be motivating.
“But stress can also be related to traumatic events like losing a job, divorce, accidents, or illness. For most of us, handling even this kind of stress is usually not a serious problem. But when it feels too overwhelming, it is good to talk to your health care provider.
“When stress goes on too long, it can become a chronic condition that takes a toll on your health. The same physical and emotional factors that can be motivating and energizing can be more problematic when they persist over time. Stress can suppress your immune system, affect your digestion, and disrupt your sleep. It can also leave you more susceptible to headaches, sadness, anger, or irritability.
“Left untreated, stress can also contribute to serious health problems, like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, or anxiety disorder.
“There are many simple ways to cope with the normal stress of daily life. First, pay attention to your body. If you notice changes in your health – like difficulty sleeping, feeling depressed, or a noticeable loss of energy – talk to your provider.
“Try to increase your exercise. You don’t have to hit the gym or take up weight lifting. Take an exercise class, try t’ai chi, or yoga. Even 20 or 30 minutes of brisk walking can help improve your mood and reduce stress.
“Stay connected to family and friends. One typical response to stress and the emotional drain it places on us is to withdraw from social contact. That’s the opposite of what we need. Yes, you can avoid the relative who increases your stress, but reach out to the friends who care about you.
“If you feel overwhelmed and unable to pull yourself up, don’t keep it to yourself. Go see your provider to talk about what you’re feeling. While simple strategies can help with routine stress, your provider will help you find the care you need, whether it involves working with a mental health professional, medication, or other treatment.”
Dr. Reister is an internal medicine specialist who sees patients in the Northfield Clinic. To make an appointment, call 507-646-1494.