Mental Health Awareness: Stress

Starting in 1992, April has been designated "Stress Awareness Month". This year we certainly need to take a deep breath and recognize the stress we are under every day and take steps to talk about it and learn ways to cope. We are in an epidemic of stress. This article will speak to general stress in everyone, and in two weeks we'll address stress in children and teens.
When you are placed in a stressful situation, specific stress hormones rush into your bloodstream leading to an increase in heart rate, blood pressure and glucose levels. This is helpful in emergency situations, but having this “rush” for extended periods of time can be dangerous to your mental and physical health. From headaches to stomach disorders to depression – even very serious issues like stroke and heart disease can come as a result of stress.

ACUTE STRESS is usually brief. It is the most common and frequent and is most often caused by reactive thinking. Negative thoughts predominate situations or events that have recently occurred or are upcoming.
EPISODIC ACUTE STRESS- People who frequently experience acute stress, or whose lives present with frequent triggers of stress. They often live a life of chaos and crisis.
CHRONIC STRESS is the most harmful type of stress. If left untreated over a long period of time, it can significantly damage your physical health and deteriorate your mental health.

If you suffer from chronic stress and can’t influence or change the situation, then you’ll need to change your approach. Be willing to be flexible. Remember, YOU have the ability to choose your response to stressors, and you may have to try various options.
* Learn to overcome issues you can not change.
* Recognize when you don’t have control, and let it go.
* Avoid getting anxious about situations that you cannot change.
* Take control of your reactions and focus your mind on something that makes you feel calm and in control.
* Develop a vision for healthy living, wellness, and personal growth, and set realistic goals to help you realize your vision.

TIPS from the CDC to help relieve Stress:
- Exercise- Even 20-30 minutes a day of walking is a great stress reliever - a good way to get your mind off your daily worries and brings strength to your body and mind.
- Relaxation- Learn to incorporate some relaxation techniques into your daily life. Meditation, journaling, yoga and breathing exercises are just a few ways to help relax.
- Have Fun- Spending quality time with family and friends, or simply watching your favorite sit-com can often be just the distraction you need.
- Visit Your Doctor- Your family doctor is in the best position to get your started on the path to a stress-free lifestyle. Make an appointment today.
- Eat Well- The gut and brain are constantly sending signals to each other, so by keeping your gut
healthy, your brain feels less stressed.
- Sleep & Rest-To relieve stress before bed, try some relaxation techniques and disconnect from technology as much as possible an hour before bedtime.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol.
- Be willing to talk to others about your stress. This goes both ways, as you need to know how to discuss your problems with others as well as talk to anyone that comes to you with their issues.
- Recognize when you need more help – know when to talk to a psychologist, social worker or counselor if things continue.
- Adapt "The Serenity Prayer" into your daily devotion: "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know one from the other."

God's peace to you!

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