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Is Stress Hijacking Your Health?

Being pulled in a million directions can sometimes feel like the norm when balancing relationships, work, kids and all the other things life throws your way. Stress can be a common feeling but how you deal with stress may determine how healthy you are.

Do you often lie awake at night worrying about something that happened the day before? Lingering stress may affect your overall health for years to come. Recent studies show that people who continued to have negative feelings about a stressful event the day after are more likely to have chronic health issues ten years later. Stress can also have more immediate effects on your health and well-being. Findings suggest that rebounding quickly from stressful situations may benefit you, even in your long-term physical health.

Stress can come any part of your life. These may include: financial worries, personal relationships, moving to a new home or changing jobs, juggling multiple roles and responsibilities or adapting to quick and constant changes.

“Stress is a normal human reaction that can be useful. However, persistent stress can lead to negative physical and emotional effects on the body and mind if not managed correctly.” – Anna LaBarbera, LCSW, St. Claire Counseling

Stress can produce immediate symptoms such as rising blood pressure, heart palpitations, stomach pain or tense muscles. Over time, stress may weaken your immune system, leaving you susceptible to frequent colds or flu. You may find yourself struggling to fall or stay asleep. Headaches are also common with chronic stress.

Ways to Reduce Stress

Research suggests that “letting go” of your stresses may improve your overall health. In some cases, “letting go” sounds easy, yet when applied, can be difficult. Here are some tips to help you release your stress and improve your health for the years ahead.

Exercise: Taking a walk, stretching or more vigorous activity, like running, can uplift your mood. Even simply taking a break to walk away from a stressful situation can help you cope.

Deep Breathing: Take a deep breath slowly through your nose. Hold for 3 seconds. Exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat this exercise 3 times. Breathing practices can help clear your mind when overwhelmed.

Talk to Someone You Trust: Pick up the phone or meet with a good friend to talk about the stresses in your life. Talking about your problems can give you an outlet and put things into perspective.

Ask for Help: Keep in mind, no one can do it all by themselves. Call your healthcare provider if you feel your stress is unmanageable or interfering with your ability to carry out daily tasks. If you are in search of a provider, visit www.st-claire.org/appointment to schedule an appointment with a St. Claire HealthCare provider.