NHC ANNAPOLIS HEALTH PROMOTION
STRESS

A Smart Approach to Stress Management

Health problems can arise when stress persists for a long period of time. Work, family and money can all be contributors to high levels of stress. Stress affects a body's immune system and can be a contributing factor to some diseases including hypertension, heart disease, kidney disease, gastrointestinal disorders, ulcers, headaches, insomnia, depression and anxiety.

How people manage stress determines general health and longevity. There are many ways to prevent prolonged stress, including relaxation, exercise and a balanced diet. Regular exercise, soothing music, meditation, therapeutic massages, deep breathing, talking to a friend and keeping a journal are all methods of stress relief.

Another important part of stress management is attitude. Improving social skills and having a sense of humor will help maintain emotional control. Do not worry about issues that are beyond control.

Time management techniques also work by increasing efficiency and organization. Use time-management principles like prioritizing, goal setting and avoiding procrastination. Effective use of these principles results in more time for leisure activities. The end-result is less stress and anxiety.

To relieve stress, some people resort to destructive behaviors such as drinking too much alcohol, overeating and using stimulants. These unhealthy behaviors increase stress levels. Both caffeine and nicotine artificially boost energy levels and can be very addictive. When the body needs rest, stimulants allow people to push themselves beyond healthy limits. Stimulants may also cause a sleep deficit, which negatively affects the body's ability to manage stress and fight off infections. Caffeine increases one's heart rate; causes loss of important minerals in the urine; and can lead to sleep disturbances, irregular heartbeat and stomach problems.

Stress can also cause lack of sleep. To get a better night's sleep, try exercising regularly, but not right before bedtime. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, soft drinks, chocolate, coffee and tobacco. Review medications with a doctor to ensure that they are not interfering with sleep. Block out distractions like light and excessive noise. Finally, remember to reserve the bedroom for sleep. Do not use it as a home office or workout area.

THE MANY SIGNS OF STRESS
Pale Skin
Dry Mouth
Cold Hands & Feet
Sleep Disturbances
Flushed, Sweaty, Over-Excited
Appetite Change
Anxiety Attack
Aches and Pains
Burned Out
Errors & Mistakes
Unfinished Grief
Inability to Make a Decision
Unexplained Fears & Insecurities
Embarrassment or Guilt
Depression
Frustration
Temper Outbursts
Emotional/Cry Easily
Energy Slump
Frequent Illness
Loss of Sex Drive
Stomach Problems
  Exercise,
relaxation,
social interaction,
healthful eating,
optimism and
humor can all help decrease the negative
effects of stress.

Effective time management is just one of many ways to keep from succumbing to stress overload.

Follow the link below to find links to sites describing a variety of coping mechanisms and tips to help you reduce or control the stress in your life.

Relaxation Techniques such as Biofeedback, Breathing Methods, Hypnosis, and Meditation can also reduce stress.