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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 the following:

  • Sleep Issues
  • Skin Rashes
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Headache
  • Depression
  • Excessive Worrying
  • Mood Swings
  • Chest Pain
  • Anxiety
  • Upset Stomach
  • Ulcers
  • High Blood Pressure

There are many 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 manage your stress:

  • Understand what makes you stressed. Both positive and negative situations can tip the scales in your life.

  • Notice when you're most vulnerable to stress and prepare yourself to respond.

  • 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. Being unorganized can contribute to feeling frustrated and out of control.

  • 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 healthful diet.

  • Get eight hours of sleep each night.

  • Limit your intake of alcohol and caffeine.

  • Slow down and try relaxation techniques, such as self-hypnosis or guided imagery, deep breathing, prayer, meditation, and yoga.

  • Listening to music can help reduce stress and improve your mood.

  • Try such self-nurturing activities as quiet time, a warm bath or pursuing a hobby.

Take the first step in managing your stress by taking a stress quiz to determine if your stress level may be unhealthy and monitor your daily stresses on this stress worksheet. Discuss any concerns with a mental health professional.