Staying Healthy in Times of Stress
Stress Can Make You Sick, but It Doesn't Have To
Attitude Is Everything continued...
"The main principle is that the effect on the immune system
is not a factor of what's happening in the environment, but it's an effect of
your perception of it," says Segerstrom, who is assistant professor of
psychology at the University of Kentucky. "To the degree that you feel
threatened or overwhelmed, the immune system will be affected more."
Segerstrom says that people who focus only on negative
information to the exclusion of more positive information will perceive more
stress and, therefore, suffer more serious consequences in their mental and
physical health. That's why it's important to keep a balanced perspective on
events going on in the world as well as closer to home.
Relieving Stress and Getting Help
To ease the negative effects of stress on your health, experts
recommend the following tips to reduce your stress and keep your life in
- Attempt to maintain a normal routine. Sticking to a schedule can help you
feel more in control of your life even when the circumstances around you are
- Make and keep connections with friends, family, clergy, and other
confidants. Maintaining a strong social support network can act as a buffer
- Make time for things that you enjoy, whatever that may be, such as playing
with your children or pets, exercise, reading a book, etc.
- Give yourself a break and stay away from things that rile you in times of
stress. Limit contact with people or things that cause stress, especially
- Participate in a volunteer activity. Assisting others in a time of need can
- Take care of yourself. Don't let stress affect your diet, sleep schedule,
or exercise habits.
Tovian says there are also several warning signs to look for
that can signal when stress levels are exceeding healthy limits. Symptoms of
stress overload include:
- Disruption in sleeping habits
- Change in appetite or diet
- Change in mood, such as a loss of optimism or feeling overwhelmed
- Inability to put stress in long-term perspective or see the bigger
- Increase in anger or irritability