Don't stress: How to help patients cope

    by Kathryn Sticca, PharmD, BCPP , Clinical Editor, Drug Information - Psychiatry

    American Stress Awareness Month takes place every April to raise awareness about the causes and effects of stress on health and well-being.

    Stress is a normal reaction to life events. Some stress can be useful, such as studying for a test or meeting a deadline at work. But stress that occurs too often or for too long can cause problems.

    Why is it important for clinicians to help their patients manage stress?

    Too much stress can weaken your body's immune system and increase your risk for physical illness. If you already have a medical problem, stress can make it worse.

    Stress can also trigger or worsen unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking, drinking, overeating, or substance abuse, or contribute to various health problems such as hypertension, diabetes, ulcers, headaches, insomnia, and depression.

    Clinicians can play a vital role in helping their patients identify and cope with stress in a healthy way, by providing education, counseling, referrals, and support.

    How can clinicians help their patients to manage stress in a healthy way?

    Clinicians can help by encouraging patients to:

    • Recognize the signs and symptoms of stress, such as irritability, anxiety, fatigue, muscle tension, headaches, or insomnia, and encourage them to seek help when needed

    • Assess the sources and severity of their stress, and help them prioritize and address the most pressing or manageable issues

    • Develop and practice effective coping skills, such as relaxation techniques, breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, or mindfulness

    • Adopt and maintain healthy lifestyle habits, such as regular physical activity, balanced nutrition, adequate sleep, and social support

    • Access and utilize available resources, such as stress management programs, support groups, online tools, or mental health professionals

    For more information visit Elsevier’s Mental and Behavioral Healthcare Hub, where you can access clinical resources to help patients manage their mental and behavioral health. You’ll also find resources to support your own resilience as you care for patients in challenging environments.

    Stress awareness and mental health

    As we transition from American Stress Awareness Month to Mental Health Awareness Month, it is a great opportunity for clinicians to raise awareness and educate their patients about the importance of managing stress in a healthy way. By helping their patients identify symptoms and sources of stress and encouraging them to manage these situations, clinicians can not only improve their patients' health and well-being, but also enhance their own professional satisfaction and well-being.

    In addition, healthcare providers must acknowledge and support their team members’ stress levels with flexibility and compassion while encouraging appropriate self-care. Improved healthcare provider wellness translates to improved delivery of clinical care to patients. Access resources to care for your healthcare team on Elsevier's Mental and Behavioral Healthcare Hub.

    Kathryn Sticca headshot

    Kathryn Sticca, PharmD, BCPP

    Clinical Editor of Drug Information, Psychiatry at Elsevier

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