Wellness Wednesday – Stress Awareness with Nurse Lauren
Hi there, Nurse Lauren here with your Wellness Wednesday tip! It’s April which means it is National Stress Awareness Month. Paying attention to your well-being is just as vital to your overall health as exercise and nutrition. And as you read this post – you will find out that these things are also closely related! Feeling stressed out is no fun, but it can happen, and for most of us it is a reality in our lives. It’s important to recognize and remember what are the things that tend to stress us out. As I always say, prevention, not treatment is the best course of action. If you know a certain situation is causing you an extreme amount of stress and it is something you can avoid, then do that. But, many times the things that do stress us out are unavoidable. Let’s talk about how to cope with stress and why this is so important for your health.
What are some symptoms of stress? Stress can manifest in different ways and varies depending on the individual. Some common symptoms include: tension, irritability, anxiety, difficulty making decisions, loss of interest or appetite, crying, sleep problems, and trouble concentrating. If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms on a regular basis, you maybe experiencing stress.
What are the different types of stress? According to the American Psychological Association (@APA) there are three different types of stress: acute, episodic acute, and chronic. Acute stress is the most common and recognizable. It is a short-term form of stress and is able to be treated and managed. Episodic acute stress occurs more frequently and can be associated with behaviors such as impatience, aggressiveness, and worrying. This type of lifestyle becomes habitual and treating episodic acute stress generally requires professional help. The last type, chronic stress, can stem from traumatic experiences. This type of stress is long-term and connected to issues that may seem unsolvable. This lack of hope often makes a person stop searching for solutions. This type of stress requires lengthy medical and behavioral treatments.
How can I manage stress? Not only does stress not feel good in the moment, but it can have more long-term affects on your health. Stress can cause heartburn, headaches, back pain, stomach pain, hypertension, and some studies show it could be a link to heart disease. To read more about the health related results of stress consult the APA’s fact sheet How Stress Affects Your Life. Here are some tips on what you can do in the moment to make you feel better, as well as preserving your long-term health.
- Identify what’s causing the stress
- Be active
- Consume a healthy diet
- Engage in quality sleep
- Use breathing exercises
- Lower alcohol intake
- Walk away when angry
- Build and maintain relationships
- Get help when needed
How can I prevent stress? A great way to prevent stress is to identify and acknowledge your personal triggers. What is it that sends you into a downward spiral? Running late for work or school? Having too much to do and not enough time to do it? Lack of sleep? Managing after school activities, dinner, cleanup, baths, and bedtime with no “me” time before you close your eyes at night? A simple solution to preventing stress is to stop it before it even begins. Purposefully set aside a specific amount of time for your own personal pleasure each day. An extra 15 minutes to yourself with your favorite coffee in the morning or a 20 minute quiet period to read your book in bed can make all the difference. It’s all about personal choice. Whether that means heading to your favorite exercise class or silently mediating in the shower, or heading to bed a few minutes earlier each night, self-care is priority in preventing stress. Healthy eating, regular exercise, and a focus on mindfulness can significantly reduce stress.
This is Nurse Lauren, contributor of NursesNOW, signing off with your Wellness Wednesday tips. Remember that caring about your mental health contribute to your overall health in many ways, keeping you, your body, and your mind healthy for years to come!