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Health Challenge: Commit to Stress Less!

While a certain level of everyday stress can be healthy, stress levels that are left unchecked can be detrimental to both mental and physical health. Each person’s response to stress is unique and many times, the effects of stress can look like symptoms of other illnesses. Being aware of the common signs and symptoms of stress is often the first step in controlling stress levels and improving one’s health.

Some common effects of too much stress can include:

  • Sleep issues
  • Skin rashes
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability and agitation
  • Headache
  • Depression
  • Excessive worrying and difficulty relaxing
  • Frequent colds and infections
  • Chest pain
  • Anxiety
  • Upset stomach
  • Aches, pains, and tense muscles

There are different ways to manage unhealthy stress, and the key is to identify strategies that will work for you. Here are some tips that may help you reduce or manag stress:

  • Learn to accept that there will always be events that you cannot control.
  • Understand what makes you stressed. Both positive and negative situations can tip the scales in your life.
  • Recognize your stress signals. Once you're aware of your stressors, you'll have a better idea of what you can control and how to control it.
  • Get organized. Use a daily planner and prioritize tasks
  • Set limits or just say no. Don't agree to unnecessary, stressful obligations.
  • Try journaling as an avenue to organize your thoughts and relieve your stress.
  • Be physically active and maintain a healthy diet. Your body can fight stress better when it is fit.
  • Get enough sleep. Your body needs time to recover from stressful events.
  • Limit your intake of alcohol and caffeine.
  • Take 15 to 20 minutes every day to sit quietly and reflect. Learn and practice relaxation techniques like yoga or deep breathing.
  • Listening to music can help reduce stress and improve your mood.

Take the first step in managing your stress by taking a stress quiz to determine if your stress level may be unhealthy. Then monitor your daily stressors and create a stress reduction strategy using the attached challenge worksheet. Discuss any concerns with a mental health professional.