The exert below is part of the Stress Awareness Health Education Program of AmeriHealth.
How does stress affect my body and my health?
Everyone has stress. Sometimes we have short-term stress, the kind that hits us when we get lost while driving or when we miss the bus. Even everyday events, such as planning a meal or making time for errands, can be stressful. This kind of stress can make us feel worried or anxious.
Other times, we face long-term stress, such as racial discrimination, a life-threatening illness, or divorce. These stressful events also affect your health on many levels. Long-term stress is real and can increase your risk for some health problems, like depression.
Both short- and long-term stress can have effects on your body. Research is starting to show the serious effects of stress on our bodies. Stress triggers changes in our bodies and makes us more likely to get sick. It can worsen problems we already have. It can also play a part in the following problems:
lack of energy
lack of concentration
eating too much or not at all
skin problems, like hives
weight gain or loss
high blood pressure
irritable bowel syndrome
neck and/or back pain
reduced sexual desire
difficulty getting pregnant
higher risk of asthma and arthritis flare-ups
If you think stress is causing you any of the problems listed above, make an appointment to see your doctor. He or she can provide suggestions to reduce or manage your stress and keep you as healthy as possible.
Stress Management Tools:
- Focus on health. A brisk walk or chair exercises can get your blood flowing and increase your mood instantly.
- Eat a healthy snack. Try avoiding sugary and fatty foods that will provide immediate gratification, but negatively effect your health.
- Turn up the tunes. Listening to music that relaxes or excites you can take your focus off the situations that seem frustrating or overwhelming.
- Take a look in the mirror. Give yourself a pep talk. Remember, this situation is only temporary; it will soon pass.
- Breathe...Breathe...Breathe...taking slow breaths helps you concentrate. It gives you the opportunity to respond to your situation instead of reacting.
Online resources that can provide you with more detailed information on stress awareness and management.
National Institute of Mental Health
Phone: 1-866-615-6464 Internet address: www.nimh.nih.gov
National Women’s Health Information Center
Phone: 1-800-994-9662 Internet address: www.4woman.gov/faq/stress.htm
National Mental Health Consumers' Self-Help Clearinghouse
Phone: 1-800-553-4539 Internet address: www.mhselfhelp.org
National Mental Health Information Center
Phone: 1-800-789-2647 Internet address: www.mentalhealth.org
The American Institute of Stress
Phone: 914-963-1200 Internet address: www.stress.org
American Psychiatric Association
Phone: 1-800-35-PSYCH (77924) Internet address: www.psych.org
Anxiety Disorders Association of America
Phone: 240-485-1001 Internet address: www.adaa.org
National Alliance on Mental Illness
Phone: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) Internet address: www.nami.org
National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
Phone: 802-296-6300 Internet address: www.ncptsd.org
Mental Health America
Phone: 1-800-969-6642 Internet address: www.nmha.org
(Reference: AmeriHealth HMO, Inc. QCC Insurance Company, d/b/a AmeriHealth Insurance Company AmeriHealth Insurance Company of New Jersey)
The following is an excellent website for stress management tips. Copy and paste the link in your browser.