Stress: How it Impacts Your Health & What You Can Do

Stress is a normal part of life. No matter who you are or where you’re from, we all experience stress in some form or another. But we are living in unprecedented times and many people are experiencing new levels of stress. It’s important to understand the impact high levels of stress can have on your health and what you can do to manage it.

What Does Stress Do?

According to the Mayo Clinic, the effects of stress include a range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms. Stress may present itself as fatigue, irritability, social withdrawal, anxiety, difficulty sleeping or even overeating.

You may notice elevated blood sugar levels, weight gain, or a desire to eat foods that don’t align with your health goals. Take heart in knowing that this won’t last forever, and there are some simple things you can do to help yourself through it.

How to Handle Stress:

1. Be Aware

Stress can show itself in many forms, so it’s important to pay attention to how you’re feeling physically, mentally and emotionally. If you notice anything out of the norm, it may be time to take a step back.

2. Be Gentle

Show yourself some compassion and kindness during this difficult time. Remember that you’re only human, you’re not perfect and that’s OK.

3. Give Yourself What You Need

When dealing with stress, it’s important to take good care of yourself. Try writing down 3 things you can do that make you feel good. For example, reading your favorite book for 10 minutes, listening to your favorite music, or completing an adult coloring page like this one. Once you’ve made your list, circle which of those 3 actions you can commit to today – then carve out some well-deserved down time.

4. Reach Out for Support

If you are struggling, ask for help. Reach out to friends or family members – even if it’s just to chat about the weather for a few minutes. Connecting with others helps calm our nervous system and combat stress.

Cone Health offers an Employee Assistance Counseling Program at no cost to you, simply call 336-538-7481 to schedule an appointment. You can also check out this cheat sheet about taking care of your behavioral health during quarantine.  And remember, your Care Team is an excellent resource! Send an in-app message if you need extra help.

The key to stress management is to find what works best for you and practice incorporating those things into your daily life. Has stress been holding you back lately? What are some ways you’ve found to manage it? Inspire someone else by telling us in the comments below!

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