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April 2013 Health Challenge


APRIL IS STRESS AWARENESS MONTH

While a certain level of everyday stress can actually be healthy, stress levels 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. Common effects of too much stress include sleep problems, skin rashes, fatigue, irritability, agitation, headache, depression, excessive worrying, mood swings, chest pain, anxiety, upset stomach, ulcers and 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 stresses you. 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.

Another challenging part of stress management is that everyone has a different threshold. A simple stress quiz or worksheet can often help you notice the toll that stress may be having on you and help you manage stress before it becomes overwhelming.

Take the first step in managing your stress by completing the stress reduction worksheet and taking a stress quiz to determine if your stress level may be unhealthy.