Reducing Stress & Anxiety

OVERVIEW

Stress and anxiety are no laughing matters, and they can strike when least expected, causing chaos in even the most stable person.  They can cause health problems, including upset stomachs, headaches, and even more serious ones like heart attacks or strokes. A person experiencing even a slight amount of stress and anxiety may feel sad, depressed, worried, or even have trouble coping with the simplest of tasks.

Whether you are experiencing a physical, mental or emotional challenge, the result can be an attack of stress that can initiate the “fight or flight” response. Combine that with anxiety, which is a feeling of apprehension and fear, resulting in sweating, palpitations and feelings of despair, and you have the perfect storm of conditions that can cause a person to literally shut down and not know how to act.

CAUSES

Stress and anxiety can be caused by any number of factors, including:

  • Moving to a new city – This not only causes stress in adults, but children as well.
  • Starting a new school, or going back to school – School administrators and parents know how stressful it can be for students of all ages.
  • Having someone close to you die – Dealing with death is a major cause of stress and anxiety in people of all ages. Everyone deals with death and grief in their own unique manner.
  • Getting married – Marriage is a new adventure for a couple, and often times is a cause of stress and anxiety in the first few months or even a year.
  • Dealing with a medical condition – It can be as simple as a sprained ankle or as serious as finding out you have cancer. Dealing with a medical condition brings feelings of stress and anxiety in a person.
  • Birth of a child – New parents are facing a whole new life together with a baby, and the result can bring on stress and anxiety like they have never experienced before.

TYPES

According to medical researchers, an estimated 40 million Americans are now living with some type of stress and anxiety disorder. If you feel anxious or stressed on a daily basis for extended periods of time, you may fall into one of these categories:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder – Also referred to as GAD, this happens when someone worries about terrible things happening to themselves, friends or family members.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – Also referred to as PTSD, this condition can affect regular people, and not just members of the military who have experienced combat situations. For example, if someone is in a serious car accident they may experience PTSD.
  • Panic Disorder – Shortness of breath, pounding heart and chest pains, as well as a fear of impending doom are common traits of a panic disorder.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder – Also referred to as OCD, this condition can cause a person to have repetitive thoughts and the need to do the same task again and again. For example, some people with OCD may take up to 20 showers in one day.
  • Social Phobia – When a person has a social phobia, they have a real fear and become anxious when they need to interact with other people. Often times a person with a social phobia will find it difficult to want to leave their home.

Everyone reacts to stress and anxiety in different ways, but some of the most common physical symptoms include:

  • Upset stomach
  • Tense muscles
  • Headaches
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Rapid breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Changes in appetite
  • Fatigue

In addition to physical symptoms, stress and anxiety can produce numerous mental and emotional challenges as well, including:

  • Difficulty concentrating on everyday tasks
  • Mood swings
  • Anger issues
  • Feelings of impending doom
  • Panic attacks
  • Sadness

DEALING WITH STRESS AND ANXIETY

In some cases a person can deal with stress and anxiety in simple ways, including:

  • Getting some rest – you need at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep each evening.
  • Eating healthy – start eating less junk food, and more healthy meals and snacks.
  • Get some exercise – the simple act of walking around the block can help alleviate any stress or anxiety you may be feeling.
  • Practice relaxation techniques – some people embrace yoga, while others enjoy meditation or prayer. Find a relaxation technique that works for you.
  • Talking with a friend – the simple act of sharing whatever is bothering you will work wonders and help you relax and feel better.
  • Adjusting their attitude – take a step back, and look at how you are reacting. Often times a simple adjustment of your attitude can make all the difference in the world.
  • Being grateful – no matter what is taking place, be sure to be grateful for all that you have, and for all that you cherish and love. When you do, the stress and anxiety will start to go away.
  • Laughing – whether you need to take a break and look at a few funny videos online, or read a humor article or book, laughing is one of the best ways to alleviate the problems that are associated with stress and anxiety.

If you find that stress and anxiety are causing you health or mental health issues and you cannot cope with them on your own, do not be afraid to seek professional help. A trained counselor or mental health professional will be able to assist you in your time of need.