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Healthy Ways to Deal with Stress

man with hand on forehead, sad or distressed look on his face
Certainly, when we are under stress, we suffer both emotionally and physically. Although everyone will experience stress in their lives, some people do seem to handle it better than others. And though some people seem to naturally handle stressful situations without letting it “get to them,” in reality, it is a combination of both natural and learned skills that helps us deal with stressful times.

While we cannot change the temperament we were born with, or medical problems we may have, we can all learn better ways to handle stress.


Recognizing Signs of Stress

When people feel overwhelmed, they may:

When these symptoms last for many weeks, then a person might have depression, especially if the symptoms are associated with:

  • sadness
  • tearfulness
  • a loss of interest in things.

This person should see a mental health counselor or primary care physician for an evaluation.


Healthy Ways to Deal with Stress

Healthy ways of dealing with stress can decrease uncomfortable physical and emotional symptoms. Of course, actively working to decrease external stressors is helpful, but sometimes you have no control over a situation. Remembering and following some of the following steps may help you improve your ability to survive stressful times more successfully:

  • Allow plenty of time for sleep, and practice good “sleep hygiene“. That means:

    •  sleeping in a comfortable place
    • no caffeine or alcohol before bed
    • getting up at a regular time each morning, regardless of how well you slept the night before
  • Get some regular exercise almost every day for at least 30 minutes. It could be a walk around the block or a work-out at the gym, but get up and move. Do not exercise, however, within 1 – 2 hours of going to bed.
  • Eat healthy.  Remember to include lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Try to avoid lots of fatty foods and sugary foods.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, preferably water. Limit caffeinated drinks and alcohol.
  • Avoid mood altering drugs like alcohol, marijuana, cocaine and other drugs.
  • Be with people.


Family and Friends Make a Difference.

The strongest factor that separates those who deal with stress well from those that do not is the presence of a strong social network of friends and family.  The most important things you can do to get through stressful times are:

  • spend time with family and friends
  • talk to these peoople
  • do things for others
  • let others help you.

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