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Staying Healthy in Times of Stress

Stress Can Make You Sick, but It Doesn't Have To

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 balance:

  • 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 chaotic.
  • Make and keep connections with friends, family, clergy, and other confidants. Maintaining a strong social support network can act as a buffer against stress.
  • 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 around bedtime.
  • Participate in a volunteer activity. Assisting others in a time of need can be empowering.
  • 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 picture
  • Increase in anger or irritability

If you suffer from these symptoms, experts say it's important to reach out to family and friends. If your symptoms continue, seek out advice from your doctor or a mental health professional trained to deal with these issues.

Therapies to help people fight the health effects of stress usually target either altering factors in the environment that are causing stress or changing how people perceive and respond to stress through counseling on stress management, biofeedback, and/or drug treatment.

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