It's National Stress Awareness Day, and regardless of what else is going on in your life, some experts on stress and trauma say the current political situation in our country is enough to strain even the exceptionally well-balanced.
Feeling more irritable than usual, not sleeping well, drinking a couple extra glasses of wine each evening? Or conversely, feeling down and loathe leaving your blanket fort?
Consider that you might be experiencing stress. And if you are, don’t feel alone. Regardless of what else is going on in your life, some experts on stress and trauma say the current political situation in our country is enough to strain even the exceptionally well-balanced.
Stress is normal and serves a useful purpose when it’s appropriate, lending the body and mind heightened awareness and faster reaction times. But when it interferes with work and obligations and negatively affects your relationship with others, it’s time to address it.
Today is National Stress Awareness Day, so at the very least, it’s a good time to consider the potential sources of your stress and perhaps take a few simple steps toward serenity.
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According to medical experts, the most common physical symptoms of stress are: low energy, headaches, an upset stomach, chest pain, a pounding heart, insomnia, loss of sexual desire, nervousness, tinnitus, cold and sweaty hands and feet and a dry mouth. Emotional and mental symptoms of stress may include despair, aggravation, or a tendency to overreact to small irritations, forgetfulness and poor judgment.
Douglas Zatzick, a psychiatrist at Harborview Medical Center who specializes in trauma and post traumatic behavior and emotional disturbances, suggests that now — as we prepare for the results of an almost universally distressing election season — is a good time for some thoughtful introspection.
Knowing yourself, says Zatzick, is almost always among the best places to start.
“People should take some time to think about what presses their buttons, what gets you going in a bad direction, what are the things that make you want to punch someone,” he said.
Once you identify triggers, take steps to anticipate and manage them.
The best straightforward suggestion from Zatzick is to find people of a similar mindset with whom to commiserate, vent and talk.
“Don’t get into debates,” Zatzick said. “Find people you can relate to whether it’s at a church, a group of friends or at work near the water cooler.”
For people trying to combat stress-induced anger, Zatzick recommends reaching out to a person in your life who is stable, and who doesn’t lash out at others, and seeking counsel.
Get more exercise, whether that means a couple of extra miles, an extra hour at the gym or even just a simple solo walk.
Other tips for reducing stress include listening to favorite music, looking at pictures of children, loved ones, cute puppies, meditation, deep breathing exercises, laughing and creating a gratitude list.