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Tips for Dealing With Everyday Stress – And How Much is Too Much?

Stress concept.May is mental health awareness month.  This year’s May is Mental Health Month Campaign centers on the theme B4Stage4 and will focus on how people can address their mental health early, rather than at “Stage 4” – when symptoms are more severe, and recovery a longer process.

Today, we’d like to share some information about stress and addressing stress before it becomes a debilitating disorder.

Stress. We all have it. It’s an unavoidable part of life for most of us in the modern world. And it’s not always a bad thing. But what are its effects on our bodies and minds, and what can you do when you’re experiencing too much?

What is stress?

When something makes you feel threatened or off-balance in any way, you feel stress. And that’s a normal, physical response. It can help you rise to meet challenges, such as making a presentation, or just help you stay focused and energetic when you need to be. In an emergency situation, stress can save your life—like when you need extra strength to defend yourself, or the instinct to slam on the brakes to avoid an accident.

But when you experience too much stress or experience it too often, it stops being helpful and will cause major damage to your health, your mood and your productivity. It can cause:

  • Memory problems
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Poor judgment
  • Anxious or racing thoughts
  • Irritability or short temper
  • Agitation, inability to relax
  • Feelings of loneliness and isolation

You may even experience physical symptoms, including:

  • Aches and pains
  • Nausea, dizziness
  • Chest pain, rapid heartbeat
  • Tension headaches

So how much stress is too much?

Sometimes you can relieve your stress by exercising, taking a break from work or other stressful situations, meditating, or other physical means. But if you realize that your performance at work or school is suffering, if you find yourself eating or sleeping significantly more or less than normal, or if you’re using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax, it’s time to seek help for your stress.

How and where?

One way to start seeking help is to talk to your regular doctor. He or she can help you determine how your stress is affecting you and whether it’s caused by, or affected by, an underlying anxiety disorder or medical condition. Then he or she can refer you to the appropriate mental health professional.

You can also call Horizon Health Services at (716) 831-1800. We would be glad to help you assess your condition and your needs—and we may be able to provide the exact help you require.

And, of course, if you feel your situation is an emergency, call a crisis hotline, or go to your nearest emergency room.