Choosing to STRESS-LESS

By Lupina Fry, Wellness Nurse

As I struggle to cover this topic, a looming deadline ahead of me, I admit to feeling a little stressed. It’s normal to some degree. However, unrelenting, debilitating stress is not “normal”. Stress Awareness Month serves to remind us to be aware of health consequences so we can make good choices for ourselves and our families.

According to the National Institute of Health, although life itself can often be stressful; when you begin to experience problems with your health, you may be at higher risk for developing anxiety disorders or depression. Stress can affect your immune, digestive, or cardiovascular systems, your cognitive capabilities, and even your sleeping patterns.

Amazingly, although stress can be debilitating and can cause and/or aggravate health problems, we don’t always notice stress is happening to us. Careful attention to your body may shed light on your stress levels. Some subtle signs of stress can be frequent or recurring headaches; overeating, indigestion, or constipation; tense muscles-especially shoulders and neck; hair falling out; jaw or tooth pain; frequent colds or cold sores; confusion or forgetfulness; and sleep disturbances- either sleeping too little or
too much. Do any of these symptoms resonate with you?

If so, what can you do about the stress in your life? Begin by being honest with yourself. Then take a closer look at your environment, your to-do lists, and your commitment to others. Make yourself and your time a higher priority. Exercise can be one of the most effective de-stressors. Long walks in the fresh air
help destress and may improve some of the harsh effects stress has on the cardiovascular, digestive, and immune systems. Eat healthy regular meals, stick to a sleep routine, and avoid drinking excess soft drinks, coffee, or alcohol. Give yourself permission to say “No”. Keep a journal and write down goals along with your feelings and positive self-supportive statements. Identify and challenge negative and unhelpful thoughts and confide in friends and family who may help you cope more positively.

If you are struggling to cope and symptoms do not resolve or begin to worsen, it may be time to talk to a professional. You can find more information on the National Institute of Mental Health website at

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