Health & Safety

October 4, 2013

Stress class addresses common concerns, provides practical stress-reduction techniques

Have you ever felt stressed to the point that you have trouble sleeping? Maybe you started to notice you’re becoming overly anxious or angry for little or no reason. Well these are common concerns we all experience, from time to time and sometimes they pass without too much trouble but usually not without some effort on our part to manage the level of stress we are experiencing. We may be able to attribute these reactions to major changes in our personal or work lives that are going on. The answer reducing stress is often not as simple as trying to avoid the source of the stress, but more of learning how to manage our reactions to these events. The following are some tips on managing stress, and also an opportunity to learn more by attending a class here at March ARB on stress reduction techniques.

  • Stress Management: Approaches for Preventing & Reducing Stress. Harvard Health Publications, 2011.
  • Overcoming Anxiety, Stress, and Panic by Chris Williams, MD. Hodder Arnold, 2010.

According to a recent article in Military One Source entitled, “Managing Your Stress,” Nonstop stress is a reality for many people. Some people choose to live a fast-paced lifestyle. Others have ongoing burdens, such as chronic illness, marital conflict or money problems. Others take on caregiving roles that demand time and emotional investment.

Your body and mind are designed to recover and recharge after periods of stress. But this cannot happen if stress persists. That is why finding healthy ways to manage stress is vital. Here are some ideas to help you take control of your stress:

1) Reframe your stress. Try to take an objective look at the stressors in your life. Are they really so bad? Are you seeking perfection where perfection isn’t needed? Can you view a stressful challenge as an opportunity rather than a burden? How would you advise a friend in your situation?

2) Get enough sleep. Your sleep troubles may stem, in part, from poor bedtime habits. Your sleep troubles may stem, in part, from poor bedtime habits. Try these tips to improve your sleep quality:

  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.
  • Avoid late-night snacking, alcohol or rousing activities.
  • Don’t read, work or watch TV in bed.
  • Make your bedroom cool, dark and comfortable.

3) Take time to relax. Find a few minutes each day to let off steam and wind down. Relaxation techniques, like deep breathing, have been proven to induce your body’s relaxation response. This is how your body naturally recovers from stress and restores normal body function. Prayer and meditation are other ways to return to a calm state and shore up the inner strength to manage stressful moments.

4) Eat right and exercise. Stress is very good at spoiling good intentions to eat right and exercise. So, as you can, make small changes to improve your lifestyle. First, avoid emotional eating—that is, eating too much or eating unhealthy foods to deal with stress. Second, find a physical outlet, such as brisk walking. Exercise is also a physical way to release stress and can improve sleep (see above).

5) Ask friends and family for help. People feel stressed when they don’t have the resources to cope with the demands they face. Ask people who love and care about you for help during stressful times. For example, this could mean asking them to baby-sit so that you can have a few moments to yourself, helping with household chores, or listening to your cares and concerns.

Techniques to Reduce Stress Related Symptoms: Progressive Muscle Relaxation By Drew Edwards, EdD, MS ©2004 Achieve Solutions

Progressive muscle relaxation is a therapeutic relaxation technique that is used to reduce general stress, depression, anxiety, insomnia and certain types of chronic pain. Based on the simple premise of tensing, or tightening, one muscle group at a time, followed by a release of the tension, this form of relaxation is used by a variety of health care professionals for a number of conditions, including headaches, psychosomatic disorders (those originating in the mind), cancer pain, high blood pressure and digestive disturbances. Progressive muscle relaxation is an excellent method for reducing musculoskeletal tension. However, people with heart disease, high blood pressure or any musculoskeletal injuries should use it with caution.

If you’d like to learn more on this topic and practice actual stress reduction techniques like meditation and muscle relaxation they come to the next Stress Management class.

The class, which was scheduled to be held during the October A UTA, will be rescheduled for a later date. For any questions please contact Mr. Frank Pavone at 655-4551 or email at frank.pavone@us.af.mil

Other Resources:

Military OneSource: www.militaryonesource.org , For Immediate Help 24/7, 1-800-342-9647 Military Crisis Line, 1-800-273-TALK(8255) Press 1

1) American Psychological Association, (800) 374-2721 or (202) 336-5500, www.apa.org

2) National Institute of Mental Health, (866) 615-6464 or (301) 443-4513, www.nimh.nih.gov

3) Mental Health America, (800) 969-6642 or (703) 684-7722, www.nmha.org

4) American Institute of Stress, (914) 963-1200, www.stress.org




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