Promoting Healthy Lifestyles at Home, School, and in the Workplace.

Get Active Howard County:  Stress Management 
(This page will be updated throughout the year to provide you with the latest stress management information)
The information contained here it is not intended to replace advice of your physician or health care provider.  You are always advised to seek professional guidance from your medical providers.

Chronic Stress may be the ultimate risk factor.  Evaluate your own stress, and learn some ways to reduce stress in your life:  STRESS EVALUATOR

Have you ever wondered why some people catch all of the colds that go around and others don't?  One study found that people who had been under severe stress for one to six months were twice as likely to get sick.   Those who suffered from two or more years of severe stress were four times more likely to develop colds.  And those with the most relationships ----family, friends and community---were the least likely to catch colds.  Stress about intimate relationships doubled cold risk.  Stress from unemployment made sufferers three and half times more likely to start sniffling. - WELCOA HEALTH & WELLNESS - Coping With Stress

Stress is a major contributing factor to the six leading causes of death in the United States - either directly or indirectly impacting coronary artery disease, cancer, respiratory disorders, accidental injuries, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide. Stress also aggravates many other conditions such as multiple sclerosis, diabetes, mental illness, alcoholism and drug abuse, and if left unchecked, can lead to family conflict and even violence. In addition, stress impacts business to the tune of 150 billion dollars per year in increased health insurance outlays, employee burn-out, absenteeism, reduced productivity and costly office mistakes.

Stress is cumulative.  It adds up over time until a state of crisis is reached and symptoms appear.  These symptoms may manifest themselves psychologically as irritability, anxiety, impaired concentration, mental confusion, poor judgment, frustration or anger.  Physical symptoms may include muscle tension, headaches, low back pain, insomnia and high blood pressure.  

Stress can have both positive and negative implications.  Properly harnessed, good stress--known as eustress --can motivate us.  On the other hand, negative stress--also known as--distress-- is what brings us unhappiness or pain.

You certainly can't eliminate all stress from your life, but you can learn to manage stress.  It's not as hard as you think.  In fact, you can lower your stress right now. And you don't need a pill or a drink

STEP 1:  TAKE THE STRESS EVALUATOR     Identify as many areas as you can.  Rank them from the most troublesome to the least troublesome based on frequency that the problem occurs and severity of the problem.

STEP 2:  Pick your top 3 areas from your list from step 1. Come up with at least three possible solutions to each problem.  Ask yourself, "how to solve this problem?"  Pick the problem that seems to be the most pressing or the one that you have the most attainable solutions.  Put your plan in place to deal with it.  Master it.  Pick your next most pressing problem and continue to be proactive. 

The truth is that most individuals that "wish" for change, don't take action.  Studies show that only about 20% are to take action and 80% want to change but are not ready yet.  Take a careful look at yourself.  Are you in the 80% who are only thinking about it?  You will be ready to take action when your knowledge of the pros of launching a new behavior significantly outweighs the cons of giving up. In other words, you may need to learn a lot more about why you should change and how you should change before taking action!

More Information & Techniques to Come

Recommended Links
International Stress Management Association



STRESS - What does Stress do to your body and ways to reduce it's negative effects.
Submitted by:  Mel Williams, HCCC Nursing Student & Maria Vick, HCCC Nursing Student

Physical Stressors:

  • Environmental conditions like trauma, excessive cold or heat.
  • Physical conditions such as infection, excessive bleeding, hunger or pain.

Psychological Stressors:

  • Divorce, loss of a job, debt, death of a loved one, retirement, fear of terrorist attack.
  • Changes that may be considered positive like marriage, arrival of a baby, unexpected success.

Reactions of the Body to Stress:

  • Fatigue - Irritability
  • Uneasiness - Anxiety and Panic Attacks
  • Sadness- Depression
    Loss of appetite - Anorexia
  • Decreased immunity
    Increased blood pressure
    Increased metabolism - Diabetes
    Decreased memory and learning
    Increased risk of blood clots, heart attacks, strokes

Ways to Reduce Stress:

  • Exercise to Reduce Stress
    - It decreases levels of anxiety, depression and the body's sensitivity to stress.  It increases the heart rate and blood flow to allow oxygen to travel to the muscles and move throughout the body
     which helps decrease tension.  

  • Types of Exercises to decrease stress:
    - Boot camp type exercises that work multiple muscle groups. 
    - Regular exercise such as walking, aerobics, swimming, tai chi, dancing, hiking and biking
  • - Yoga and Pilates
    - Progressive muscle relaxation-tense and relax the areas listed below only until tension is felt, then relax them:
         Neck and shoulders
         Hands and forearms
         Jaw and lips

Other Methods to Reduce Stress:
Guided Imagery
Deep Breathing
Humor, Looking at or Producing Art, and Listening to Music
Journaling (writing a journal about daily events or things that caused stress or anxiety in your life)

Halter, M. (2014) Varcarolis 
Foundations of Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing:  A clinical approach. (7th ed.). St. Louis, Mo.: Elsevier.

Fact Sheet on Stress. (n.d.). Retrieved April 2, 2015, from http.//