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Mental Health Matters

Living WellLiving Well

Everyone experiences stress. In fact, we are bombarded with expectations, commitments, and demands in our professional and personal lives. At the beginning of each year, New Year’s resolutions can present added stress. We may hold certain expectations for ourselves – along with the added stress of returning to our normal daily routines after the holidays. To manage stress, you need to understand how specific stressors directly affect you and how you view stressful situations. These, along with other keys, will help you respond and find balance.

Stress can cause a myriad of issues ranging from minor things like headaches, poor work performance and, muscle spasms to even more severe problems like anxiety, heart attacks, and chronic disease. In fact, 70-90% of doctor’s visits are stress-related.

Signs & Symptoms of Stress (Physical, Emotional, & Relational)

  • Sleep disturbances/fatigue
  • Abnormal changes in weight/ eating disorders
  • Skin problems
  • Cheat pain, irregular heart beat
  • High blood pressure
  • Muscle tension
  • Nervousness, anxiety
  • Depression, moodiness
  • Lack of concentration
  • Conflict with co-workers/employers
  • Isolation from social activities

Some people are great at actively managing the amount of stress that comes into their lives by combating it with the appropriate amount of self-care. Others aren’t aware of the toll it can take on our physical and emotional well-being. The key to managing stress is to become aware of your personal stressors. If it seems impossible to reduce them, then a bit of balance is in order! Find time for rejuvenating and enjoyable activities in between your work days. Listen to your body and make new choices. Remember how you view stressful situations influences your stress response. Be aware of negative self-talk and make it positive.

Steps You Can Take Now:

  • Relax and breathe deeply. – Set reminders for yourself to take a few minutes to focus on your breath.
  • Pace yourself. – Prioritize your tasks and take breaks.
  • Lower your stress arousal. – Try yoga, massage, exercise, relaxing music, reading, etc.
  • Nurture supportive relationships. – Spend more time with the positive people in your life.
  • Improve your diet. – Cut back on caffeine, sugar and alcohol. Add vitamins and healthy snacks instead!

If you need help coping with stress, Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs) can help. Search for a therapist near you at

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