Stay Healthy - Stress Less!
Do you see people you support feeling frustrated and angry? Having trouble sleeping? Eating too much – or too little? Being tense and anxious? Having unexplained aches and pains? These are all possible signs of stress.
Everyone experiences stress. Some stress is okay, even helpful. Constant stress can cause serious health problems.
Learn about and use different ways to manage stress. By doing so you will help yourself and others have a happier, healthier mind and body.
Causes of Stress:
To help, find out how and when someone feels stress. First, look for signs of stress. People often look worried, uneasy, afraid, irritated, upset, or angry. Talk to them about what made them feel that way. Help them become aware of the cause of their stress. There are many possible causes. Here are a few:
- Fighting with family, friends, or people with whom they work or live.
- Problems with money.
- Being bullied—feeling like they are being picked on.
- Having too much to do. Feeling overwhelmed.
- Being in a crowded place.
- Moving from place to place.
- Suffering from a loss, someone close to you or perhaps a pet.
Having trouble figuring out the cause? Help the person with keeping a daily log for a couple of weeks. What people, places, or activities are causing stress? Record what is happening and how it feels.
Ways to Manage Stress:
There are many ways to lessen or get rid of stress. Knowing the cause of stress will help you lessen it. You can work together to make a plan.
* Change what is causing the stress. If it is about money, help the person make a budget. If the person is being bullied, talk to them about what they can do to stay safe.
* Help the person change their reaction to things that cause stress. Instead of getting angry, find other ways to help ease the frustration. Take a deep breath. Count to ten. Take a break.
* Think positive thoughts. Help the person learn to push negative thoughts away. Think “I can” instead of “I cannot.” Thinking about times when the person felt calm will also help.
* Do fun things. Find out what the person enjoys doing – what makes them feel good. Encourage them to take time every day to do something fun.
* Laughter is good medicine. Laughing feels good. A good laugh can go a long way toward easing stress.
* Learn to relax. Yoga, deep breathing, and meditation help clear the mind of thoughts that cause stress. Even a few minutes of relaxation can help a person feel better.
* Most important, talk to a friend. We all feel better when we have someone we trust to talk to. Provide support to build a strong support system.
* Get Daily Exercise. Aim for 30 minutes a day.
* Eat Right. Eat slowly. Eat food that is good for you. Don’t overeat.
* Get plenty of sleep. Most people need six to eight hours a day. Check out Tip Sheet #3 for more tips!
* Drink Less Caffeinated Coffee.
* Avoid Alcohol, Cigarettes, and Drugs.
Start a conversation with the person you support and get ideas about ways to manage stress by watching the Stay Healthy – Stress Less Video. Use a stress test to help you and the person you support talk about the possible stressors in his or her life.
Take Care of Yourself -- Supporter Stress:
Supporters – both family members and direct support professionals are at high risk. Stress affects a person’s ability to concentrate, causes sleeplessness, and increases the risk for back problems and accidents.
Don’t ignore stress. Do something about it.
Time to Take a Deep Breath:
Let’s practice breathing! Do this with a person you support. Take at least three deep breaths like this:
- Get comfortable.
- Close your eyes.
- Breathe in deeply and slowly through your nose.
- Feel your belly fill with air.
- Now breathe out slowly and gently.
- As you breathe out, picture a calm place.
- Imagine all your stress going away.
- Let your body relax.
How did that feel? Try it when you are feeling stressed! Help those you support to use deep breathing as a way to relax.
Working together, try different relaxation exercises and find out what works best. Learning and practicing ways to relax will improve everyone’s health and happiness. To practice deep breathing, go to the Stress Less – Take a Breath Video.
For more information, go to Finding the Relaxation Exercises That Work for You.