Managing Stress and Anxiety

Feelin’ Crabby? It could be stress.

Stress can manifest itself in a multitude of different physical or emotional forms in a person. It is important to learn the signs and sources of your stress, and then address them accordingly. Ignoring the physical and emotional signs can create more concerns for your health in general.

Physical signs of stress include:

» Headaches, migraines, or feeling lightheaded
» Stomachaches, ulcers, back and muscle pain, grinding teeth
» Fatigue, trouble sleeping, difficulty concentrating
» Poor appetite, weight gain or loss
» Rashes, itching, and hives

Emotional signs of stress include:

» Forgetfulness
» Mood swings
» Excessive nervousness, anxiety, and worry
» Increased anger and hostility
» Depression
» Difficulty communicating, feeling overwhelmed
» Withdrawal from social interaction
» Increase in drinking, smoking or drug use (lowering your immune system)

Ways to Manage or Eliminate Stress

Plan your day. Pick something to do, such as work in the yard, read a book, complete a task or goal. Start a hobby or learn a trade you always wanted to such as cooking, writing or painting. Planning your day helps keep you centered and focused.

Eat well and stay active. Stress can cause you to neglect good eating habits, or take away the desire to get up and moving. A healthy, well-balanced diet and exercise can keep your body fit and able to fight disease. Exercise also is an excellent way to lift up your mood.

Get some sunlight. Sit on your porch instead of the couch. Taking a walk or bike ride is both good for your physical and your emotional health.

Limit media exposure. Put your phone down and avoid binge-watching television shows. This will help you get out of any negative loop your mind may be fixated on. Remember, everyone experiences stress from time to time, so don’t let the comparison of social media get you down.

Maintain your sleep pattern. Keep a regular schedule for going to sleep and waking up each day. Try not to check your phone when you first wake up. Take this time to be intentional and just be in the moment of a new day.

Stay in the present. You can calm both your mind and your body by keeping your mind in the present. The present is hardly ever as stressful as an imagined future or a past full of regrets.

Meditate to stay in the present. Center your attention on your breathing, a sound or visual pattern, a repetitive movement, or meditation. It may sound silly, but give yourself a good affirmation every now and then.

Review your coping responses. Think about the successes you’ve had while experiencing other stressful life events. Recall some of the things you did to cope.

Acts of kindness. Find a way to focus on helping others. It can lift their spirits and yours.