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Butler Hospital
Butler Hospital

Stress Busters

Washing Away Stress

Stress can be caused by circumstances at home, such as difficult relationships, or at work by pressures such as heavy workloads or lack of job security. Whatever the cause, when left simmering unattended, stress can inflict long-term damage.

Having a bad day every now and then is to be expected, but when stress is chronic, meaning it is continuous or persists over an extended period of time, it can result in serious physical harm. Chronic stress can weaken the immune system, making you more susceptible to viruses, depression, anxiety, premature aging and life-threatening diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Among the clues that your emotional life may need attending are: poor work performance, feeling overly emotional, frequently being set off by 'little things,' insomnia, fatigue, headaches and backaches or a rise in blood pressure.

Even if you are not able to change difficult conditions, you can take some steps to protect yourself from the stress that results. Below are some of National Mental Health Association's tips for handling stress:

  • eat right and exercise regularly
  • take care of essential and difficult tasks first; eliminate those that are unnecessary;
    divide large projects into smaller tasks and make 'to do' lists
  • grant yourself 10 or 20 minutes a day for quiet time and/or reflection
  • say 'no' when asked to do more than you can reasonably handle
  • when you're in a bind, speak up and suggest a practical solution
  • do not strive to be perfect; everyone makes mistakes
  • remember the above tip applies to your loved ones, friends and colleagues as well as yourself, and;
  • talk things out with a trusted loved one for support and perspective.

If you take some of these steps and still feel overwhelmed, it may be time to seek professional help by seeking an experienced therapist. These knowledgeable professionals help you to meet personal and professional challenges, discover and build strengths, and may even lead you to creative breakthroughs. In addition to helping you cope with stress and anxiety, clinical psychologists and social workers can help you do exciting things like get up the courage to pursue a dream job or project, or take life-changing steps by addressing unproductive patterns in your personal and professional life.

For referrals to a therapist, start with your primary care provider or a trusted friend. It can be hard to know how to help yourself when you are feeling depressed or overwhelmed. One way is to get some guidance by taking Butler Hospital's free, confidential mental health screenings online. Each screening only takes a few minutes to complete and will provide you with information on how to get help.

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