Meeting a deadline at the office, preparing the house for company, cleaning out the garage… we all have an ever-growing to-do list, and let’s face it… sometimes our lives stress us out!
Over time, these stressors can trigger a variety of health problems:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease and stroke
- Decreased immune defenses
- Stomach problems
- Diminished brain functioning
Effects of stress overload on your body (headache, muscle pain, chest pain, fatigue, sleep problems); your mood (anxiety, restlessness, lack of motivation, irritability, sadness, depression); and on your behavior (under/over eating, angry outburst, drug, tobacco or alcohol abuse).
While stress here and there is normal, prolonged stress can be detrimental without proper management. There are stress management strategies you can explore to help reduce your tensions.
- Connect with others – spend time with family and friends.
- Stay positive – give yourself a pep talk.
- Get physically active – take a walk or a bike ride, enjoy the outdoors.
- Help others – volunteer at the local shelter or get involved with a cause that is important to you.
- Get enough Zzzzz – 7 to 9 hours is recommended.
- Eat well – don’t forget your fruits and veggies.
- Take care of your spirit – meditate, try yoga, or listen to music that calms you.
- Seek professional help if you need it.
In some, stress can lead to serious mental health problems such as depression. Depression is more than just a rough patch that you can snap out of. Also known as major depression, major depressive disorder and clinical depression, it’s a serious condition that impacts every facet of your world– social life, relationships, career, physical and overall self-worth and purpose.
Screenings are often the first step in getting help and should be a routine part of your healthcare. Those suffering from depression often experience some of these key symptoms:
- A persistent sad, anxious or “empty” mood
- Sleeping too little, early morning awakening or sleeping too much
- Reduced appetite and weight loss, or increased appetite and weight gain
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
- Restlessness or irritability
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Thoughts of death or suicide
With a few simple lifestyle changes, such as the support of friends and family, avoiding the urge to isolate yourself, exercising, getting in some sun time, eating healthy and relaxation techniques, you can help lessen your feelings of depression. If your symptoms persist, you may want to discuss medication, psychological counseling or other treatment options with your doctor.
Since 1949, the month of May has been observed as Mental Health Month in the United States to spotlight and raise awareness about the importance of mental health and to stop the stigma associated with mental health.