The financial crisis that our country is currently facing is troubling to us all. High gas and energy prices, groceries that seem to cost more than they did just last week, financial losses and declining home values can cause stress and anxiety. Managing stress during difficult times is important. It lets us go on with our lives, maintain a positive outlook, see opportunities, and appreciate what is important regardless of very real difficulties. Effectively managing stress helps us avoid depression or resorting to excessive use of alcohol or drugs, etc.
How do you know if you are stressed?
Sometimes stress can creep up on you without your being aware of it, until it accumulates and you suddenly feel overwhelmed, excessively angry, anxious or depressed. Some indicators to pay attention to:
- problems sleeping
- drinking or eating more
- lack of motivation
- feeling “discombobulated,” or more disorganized and anxious than usual
- temper shorter than usual
- impatience with family members, in the workplace or with friends.
Stress Reactions: When to Get Help
Some reactions are normal and others indicate trouble ahead. If you or someone in your family find prolonged signs of the following behaviors, it may be time to seek assistance.
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
- Suicide threats, either direct or indirect
- Significant change in behavior
- Severe drop in job or school performance
- Relationship difficulties
- Irrational or bizarre behavior
- Increased use of alcohol or drugs
- Headaches or stomachaches with no physical cause
- Grinding teeth
- Eating or sleeping problems, nightmares
- Depression or panic
- Decreased energy, fatigue, being “slowed down”
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
- Regular exercise is the most important anti-stressor. Be active — take a walk, ride your bike, get out in the fresh air.
- Prepare for morning the night before — put things you need to take with you by the door. Decide what you are going to wear and be sure it’s ready.
- Make personal health a priority. Move, stretch, breathe! Eat healthy and nutritious meals. Keep regular meal times.
- Connect with others…spend time with supportive friends and family.
- Avoid excessive use of alcohol and caffeine.
- Keep your sense of humor…laugh…sometimes it’s the best medicine during trying times.
- Find a serene place of your own — even if it’s just a comfortable chair in a corner. Try meditation or yoga to help you relax.
- Admit what is bothering you. Talk about it openly with someone you trust…a friend, family member, personal physician, leader in your faith community.
- Remember that children may be worrying too…reassure them, spend time together. Hugs help!
- Do something you enjoy every day.
- You can’t change that stressful events happen but you can control how you respond to the events. Avoid overreacting. Focus on the positive. Do something about one small piece of a bigger problem.
- Get enough sleep.
- Pare down your to-do list, prioritize.
- Spend time in nature…it’s a beautiful time of year in Colorado!