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By: JL Carelock | April 17, 2018

April is National Stress Awareness Month

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, stress is defined as the following:

Constraining force or influence such as:
a : a force exerted when one body or body part presses on, pulls on, pushes against, or tends to compress or twist another body or body part; the intensity of this mutual force commonly expressed in pounds per square inch 
b : the deformation caused in a body by such a force 
c : a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation 
d : a state resulting from a stress; one of bodily or mental tension resulting from factors that tend to alter an existent equilibrium

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:

  • trouble sleeping
  • headaches
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • irritability
  • lack of energy
  • lack of concentration
  • eating too much or not at all
  • anger
  • sadness
  • tension
  • stomach cramping
  • stomach bloating
  • skin problems, like hives
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • weight gain or loss
  • heart problems
  • high blood pressure
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • diabetes
  • 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:

National Women’s Health Information Center
Phone: 1-800-994-9662 Internet address:

National Mental Health Consumers' Self-Help Clearinghouse
Phone: 1-800-553-4539 Internet address:

National Mental Health Information Center
Phone: 1-800-789-2647 Internet address:

The American Institute of Stress
Phone: 914-963-1200 Internet address:

American Psychiatric Association
Phone: 1-800-35-PSYCH (77924) Internet address:

Anxiety Disorders Association of America
Phone: 240-485-1001 Internet address:

National Alliance on Mental Illness
Phone: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) Internet address:

National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
Phone: 802-296-6300 Internet address:

Mental Health America
Phone: 1-800-969-6642 Internet address:

(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.

No matter what life brings your way, be confident in this:

"Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

Philippians 4:6, 7



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