Achieve a balance between positive and negative
stressors. Discover how stress affects
your body and incorporate strategies to manage your stress and time more
effectively. Learn how sleep affects
your health and behaviors to help improve your sleep.
How does stress affect my health?
How can I manage stress?
How does sleep affect my health?
How can I improve my sleep?
What is stress?
Stress is a situation that causes emotional or physical
Is all stress bad?
No. Some stress is
good for you. This is called positive
stress or eustress. Positive stress,
such as school and work, can help keep you stimulated and help you find
fulfillment and meaning in life.
How can some stress
be good for me?
Stress can help you gain patience, perseverance, and
self-confidence as you learn new tasks.
For example, you were probably stressed the first time you tried to ride
a bike in fear that you would fall.
After you mastered the skill however, you learned something new and
gained confidence in yourself.
When is stress
Some stress can be negative.
This is called distress. A
stressor turns negative when it exceeds your emotional, mental, and physical
How does my body
respond to stress?
When you perceive a stressor, your body prepares for
danger. It sets off a series of
reactions called the Fight or Flight response.
These reactions include increased heart rate, blood pressure, rate of
breathing, sweating, and muscle tension.
How does stress
affect my health?
Dealing with a negative stressor over a long period of time
or many negative stressors back to back can cause adverse effects to your
health. These effects include high blood
pressure, decreased immunity, reproductive complications, poor diet, lack of
sleep, lack of exercise, weight gain, substance abuse, depression, and suicide.
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How Can I Manage Stress?
Is your job, school, relationship, or financial worry
causing you stress? Once you know what
the problem is, you can do something about it.
Think of solutions
What can you do to reduce the stressors in your life? Can you look for a less stressful job? Can you get help with your schoolwork? Can you get help with your relationship? Can you make a budget or see a financial expert? Brainstorm possible solutions and
You may find it helpful to talk with a friend or family
member about your stressor. This may
help you vent and think about other solutions.
Consider talking with a mental health counselor.
Many times we perceive a stressor to be more severe than it
really is. Try to think realistically
about the stressor. Talking with a
friend may help you see the stressor in a new way.
Write down some of the major stressors in your life. For each stressor, think of one positive
outcome that the stressor has on your life.
For example, a challenging job may teach you patience and
Accept that there
are things you cannot change
The tendency to control situations can create unnecessary
stress in your life. Learn to change
what you can and accept what you cannot.
Physical activity can reduce the influence of stress on your
body. As little as 10 minutes of
physical activity has been shown to reduce the stress response, anxiety, and
depression. Some research has suggested
that exercise is just as effective as medication for treating mild
depression. Try a short walk around the
block to clear your head.
Try deep breathing, stretching, massage, progressive
relaxation, meditation, or praying. You
may enjoy a yoga or Tai Chi class. Take
a bubble bath with scented candles and soft music. Relaxation techniques can help reduce the
Try to prevent
Make decisions. Indecisiveness may cause worry and stress.
Don’t procrastinate. Make a to-do list and complete the most important
projects first. Look for ways to make
the task easier or more fun. Consider
doing your least favorite tasks first.
Consolidate tasks when possible.
Don’t overcommit. Be realistic about your capabilities and learn
how to say no if demands do not seem reasonable.
Delegate. Ask others for help if you are feeling
Anticipate. Try to plan ahead and anticipate any major
events or changes. By being prepared,
you can help prevent future stress.
Divide and conquer. Divide your tasks into three groups: essential, important, and trivial. Focus on the first two, ignore the
Schedule tasks for
peak efficiency. Identify when you
are the most efficient—morning, noon, or night. Schedule your tasks
Watch out for time
traps. Activities such as watching
television and surfing the internet crowd out more important activities. Be mindful of these time traps to avoid
Give yourself a
break. Save time for play. This should be unstructured time when you
ignore the clock. Slow down to stop and
smell the roses and enjoy each wonderful day that you have been given.
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Does Sleep Affect My Health?
Your body needs a certain amount of sleep to function
properly. When you get less sleep than
your body needs, you accumulate sleep debt.
This may have many adverse effects on your health, including:
Performance. Lack of sleep leads to poor performance at
work, poor concentration and memory, and difficulty getting along with
Learning ability. Sleep loss can impair memory, learning, and
logical reasoning. This can be extremely
detrimental to a growing child.
Stress. Lack of sleep can lead to irritability,
irrational thinking, and impair the ability to cope with stress.
Absenteeism. Sleeplessness is a significant predictor of
absenteeism from work or school.
Energy. Lack of sleep can decrease energy and
physical activity throughout the day.
Metabolism. Research suggests that sleep deprivation
stimulates appetite, lowers metabolism, and affects insulin resistance and
blood glucose levels.
Accidents. Sleep deprivation leads to difficulty
concentrating and decision making which can increase the risk of injury. There are approximately 100,000 sleep-related
vehicle crashes that result in 1,500 deaths each year.
Psychiatric disorders. Studies suggest that people with
chronic insomnia are more likely to develop several kinds of psychiatric
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Can I Improve My Sleep?
According to the National Sleep Foundation, 74% of
American adults are experiencing a sleeping problem a few nights a week or
more. Here are some guidelines to help
you improve your sleep:
Follow a regular schedule. Go to sleep and
get up at the same time each day.
Wind down. Read a book, listen to relaxing music, or
take a warm bath before bed.
Exercise. Regular exercise can improve your
sleep. Try not to exercise too close to
See the light. Try to get some natural light each
afternoon. It will help your body to
recognize day from night and set your circadian rhythms.
Watch stimulants. Limit or avoid caffeine or alcohol
late in the day. Avoid smoking because
it is a stimulant and may be very dangerous if you fall asleep with a lit
Eat smart. Try not to eat a large meal right before
bedtime. If you are hungry, a small
snack such as a few crackers or a glass of milk may help you sleep better.
Set the scene. Your bedroom should be safe, comfortable, and
used only for sleeping. Keep the room
dark, well ventilated, and as quiet as possible.
If you are so tired during the day that you cannot function normally and
if this lasts for more than 2-3 weeks, you should see your family doctor or a
sleep disorders specialist.
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