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WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOUR PATIENT GOES HOME?

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Jul.15.2020
 Managing Stress, Adult

Managing Stress, Adult

Feeling a certain amount of stress is normal. Stress helps our body and mind get ready to deal with the demands of life. Stress hormones can motivate you to do well at work and meet your responsibilities. However severe or long-lasting (chronic) stress can affect your mental and physical health. Chronic stress puts you at higher risk for anxiety, depression, and other health problems like digestive problems, muscle aches, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.

What are the causes?

Common causes of stress include:
  • Demands from work, such as deadlines, feeling overworked, or having long hours.
  • Pressures at home, such as money issues, disagreements with a spouse, or parenting issues.
  • Pressures from major life changes, such as divorce, moving, loss of a loved one, or chronic illness.
You may be at higher risk for stress-related problems if you do not get enough sleep, are in poor health, do not have emotional support, or have a mental health disorder like anxiety or depression.

How to recognize stress

Stress can make you:
  • Have trouble sleeping.
  • Feel sad, anxious, irritable, or overwhelmed.
  • Lose your appetite.
  • Overeat or want to eat unhealthy foods.
  • Want to use drugs or alcohol.
Stress can also cause physical symptoms, such as:
  • Sore, tense muscles, especially in the shoulders and neck.
  • Headaches.
  • Trouble breathing.
  • A faster heart rate.
  • Stomach pain, nausea, or vomiting.
  • Diarrhea or constipation.
  • Trouble concentrating.

Follow these instructions at home:

Lifestyle

  • Identify the source of your stress and your reaction to it. See a therapist who can help you change your reactions.
  • When there are stressful events:
    • Talk about it with family, friends, or co-workers.
    • Try to think realistically about stressful events and not ignore them or overreact.
    • Try to find the positives in a stressful situation and not focus on the negatives.
    • Cut back on responsibilities at work and home, if possible. Ask for help from friends or family members if you need it.
  • Find ways to cope with stress, such as:
    • Meditation.
    • Deep breathing.
    • Yoga or tai chi.
    • Progressive muscle relaxation.
    • Doing art, playing music, or reading.
    • Making time for fun activities.
    • Spending time with family and friends.
  • Get support from family, friends, or spiritual resources.

Eating and drinking

  • Eat a healthy diet. This includes:
    • Eating foods that are high in fiber, such as beans, whole grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables.
    • Limiting foods that are high in fat and processed sugars, such as fried and sweet foods.
  • Do not skip meals or overeat.
  • Drink enough fluid to keep your urine pale yellow.

Alcohol use

  • Do not drink alcohol if:
    • Your health care provider tells you not to drink.
    • You are pregnant, may be pregnant, or are planning to become pregnant.
  • Drinking alcohol is a way some people try to ease their stress. This can be dangerous, so if you drink alcohol:
    • Limit how much you use to:
      • 0–1 drink a day for women.
      • 0–2 drinks a day for men.
    • Be aware of how much alcohol is in your drink. In the U.S., one drink equals one 12 oz bottle of beer (355 mL), one 5 oz glass of wine (148 mL), or one 1½ oz glass of hard liquor (44 mL).

Activity

  • Include 30 minutes of exercise in your daily schedule. Exercise is a good stress reducer.
  • Include time in your day for an activity that you find relaxing. Try taking a walk, going on a bike ride, reading a book, or listening to music.
  • Schedule your time in a way that lowers stress, and keep a consistent schedule. Prioritize what is most important to get done.

General instructions

  • Get enough sleep. Try to go to sleep and get up at about the same time every day.
  • Take over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your health care provider.
  • Do not use any products that contain nicotine or tobacco, such as cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and chewing tobacco. If you need help quitting, ask your health care provider.
  • Do not use drugs or smoke to cope with stress.
  • Keep all follow-up visits as told by your health care provider. This is important.

Where to find support

  • Talk with your health care provider about stress management or finding a support group.
  • Find a therapist to work with you on your stress management techniques.

Contact a health care provider if:

  • Your stress symptoms get worse.
  • You are unable to manage your stress at home.
  • You are struggling to stop using drugs or alcohol.

Get help right away if:

  • You may be a danger to yourself or others.
  • You have any thoughts of death or suicide.
If you ever feel like you may hurt yourself or others, or have thoughts about taking your own life, get help right away. You can go to your nearest emergency department or call:
  • Your local emergency services (911 in the U.S.).
  • A suicide crisis helpline, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. This is open 24 hours a day.

Summary

  • Feeling a certain amount of stress is normal, but severe or long-lasting (chronic) stress can affect your mental and physical health.
  • Chronic stress can put you at higher risk for anxiety, depression, and other health problems like digestive problems, muscle aches, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.
  • You may be at higher risk for stress-related problems if you do not get enough sleep, are in poor health, lack emotional support, or have a mental health disorder like anxiety or depression.
  • Identify the source of your stress and your reaction to it. Try talking about stressful events with family, friends, or co-workers, finding a coping method, or getting support from spiritual resources.
  • If you need more help, talk with your health care provider about finding a support group or a mental health therapist.

This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your health care provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your health care provider.

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