Nurse’s Notes: Stress Awareness Month
Every month, our staff nurses share important health updates. This month, our nurses are talking about Stress!
More than half of individuals with disabilities report that they experience a great deal of stress and that the stress makes it more difficult to manage their disability.
What is stress?
Stress can be described as “physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension.” Stress greatly impacts health, mental state, family, and social life.
What are the common causes of stress?
- Health-related conditions (number 1 reason)
- Financial problems (more than 70% of people with income less than $20,000 report severe stress)
- Life changes and transitions
- Problems with work
- Problems with family and personal relationships
There can be many different reactions to stress both physical and emotional. Some of the most common reactions are:
- Feelings of disbelief, fear, shock, anger, sadness, worry, numbness, or frustration
- Changes in appetite, energy, desires, and interests
- Nightmares or difficulty sleeping, concentrating, and making decisions
- Headaches, body pains, stomach problems, and skin rashes
- Worsening of chronic health problems
- Worsening of mental health conditions
- Increased use of tobacco, alcohol, and other substances
At times stress can seem nearly impossible to manage effectively. Fortunately, through research, experts have come up with many ways to manage stress. More than 90% of people who say they have used tips to reduce stress, have reported a reduction in stress, however, the majority of people reporting a great deal of stress, also reported not using any of the recommended techniques to reduce it.
Tips to managing stress
- Take care of yourself (eat healthy, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and give yourself a break if you feel stressed out)
- Spend time with family and friends (talk to a trusted person)
- Seek more help if needed (know when to talk to a psychologist, social worker, and/or pastor)
- Avoid drugs and alcohol
- Spend more time outdoors or with hobbies (this is found to be the most effective in reducing stress)
- Spend time with pets and animals
- Limit time and take breaks from news and social media
- Deep breaths, meditation, and/or prayer
- Connect with your community and faith-based groups
- Recognize when there are things you cannot change or control and try to let go (take control of your reactions and focus your mind on something that makes you feel calm and in control)
More than 70% of people reported that at one point, stress led them to make positive life changes, so remember experiencing stress IS NOT A NEGATIVE THING! Actively using stress management tools and techniques along with not being afraid to ask for help is what can get you on the path to a less stressful, more positive life!