I'm a Doctor and These are the Best Ways to Fight Stress
Our lives are stressful: work is stressful, remote work is stressful, Zoom calls are stressful, and watching the news is stressful. So is daily parenting, taking care of a pet, finding a parking spot, dealing with family, sitting next to a sneezing guy in a coffee shop, ordering that second chocolate croissant, watching yourself in the mirror, dealing with family, dressing appropriately for the weather, being on time for yoga class — all stressful even before the deadly COVID pandemic and the recent war. Stress can be acute, chronic, or episodic — and not always is bad. But when you are overwhelmed with stress factors, it can affect your body. In addition to impacting our mental health, stress can also lead to physical side effects like weight loss and insomnia. That's why it's more important than ever to learn how to spot and overcome stress. We asked Dr. Anisha Patel-Dunn, D.O. and Chief Medical Officer at LifeStance Health, for the best tips to fight stress. Read on to find out how you can do it—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
What Causes Stress?
According to Patel-Dunn, "Stress can be caused by (but not limited to) work issues, financial hardships or relationship troubles. Individuals from the BIPOC community, for example, may also be more likely to experience daily stress as a result of microaggressions and discrimination."
How Does Stress Affects You
"Intense stress can elevate cortisol levels in the body which can lead to a variety of physical conditions. Long-term effects of chronic stress can range from changes in weight to depression to anxiety disorders," says Dr. Patel-Dunn.
What are the Signs of Stress?
"Signs of chronic stress include extreme irritability, changes in appetite, low self-esteem, insomnia, difficulty concentrating. If you experience any of these, click through to learn how to deal with stress," says Dr. Patel-Dunn.
"Identifying areas in your life that may be contributing to increased stress levels and coming up with a plan to create change is an important step. Sometimes, stressful situations and events are out of our control, but we can still develop healthy coping techniques to work through these situations. If you're unsure where to start, working with a licensed therapist can be helpful," says Dr. Patel-Dunn.
Find Time for Self-Care
"Even if it's ten minutes out of your day, taking a break for yourself whether that's practicing meditation, walking around the block or listening to your favorite podcast can be a helpful tool to manage stress," says Dr. Patel-Dunn.
Reduce Alcohol and Tobacco Intake
"The effects of nicotine and alcohol are often seen as stress relievers when in fact these substances can cause more harmful stress to your body," says Dr. Patel-Dunn.
If You are Parent You Should Pay Attention
"One demographic that may be overlooked when thinking of stress is our youth and young adult patients. At LifeStance, we've seen a 200% increase in youth patients (ages 17 and under) seeking mental health services since 2019. As a group, they've been under immense stress and pressure throughout the ongoing pandemic," says Dr. Patel-Dunn. "Going through such impactful developmental years during such a challenging time can increase stress levels. It's important that parents and caretakers recognize the impact of these stressors on development and continue to serve as support systems through this difficult transitional period." And to ensure your health don't miss these 101 Health Habits You Didn't Know Were Deadly.
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