Life is hard, and every day brings situations that cause stress. Stress is sneaky though—our body often tells us we’re stressed before our mind realizes we are in trouble. Up at night, muscle tension, headache, upset stomach, low energy: these are signs that a common anxious reaction may be turning into a full-blown chronic problem.

The physical discomfort of stress can also go hand in hand with behavior and mood effects. Unhappiness, anxiety, irritability, anger, loneliness, and feeling overwhelmed can plague us when we’ve been too stressed out for too long. Longer term, chronic stress can lead to high blood pressure, breathing trouble, skin problems, pain, and a weakened immune system.

So what are we feeling so worked up about? The American Psychological Association reports that money and work top the list, while concerns about our country’s future, the current political climate, and violence and crime also keep us up at night.

The good news is that stress is actually a normal part of life. It can give us that much-needed boost to get a big project done, or alert us to a dangerous situation. Stress itself is actually not a problem, as long as we stay top of it to keep its effects at bay. Still, 33 percent of us never discuss ways to manage stress with our doctors!*

To the rescue comes Desreen Dudley, Teladoc Behavioral Health Quality Consultant, with stress management techniques for a more peaceful life:

  • Get a good night’s rest: Follow a bedtime routine and commit to seven to eight hours of sleep a night to refresh your body and mind.
  • Build physical activity into your daily routine: Exercise delivers feel-good endorphins and improves physical health.
  • Learn how to meditate: Become aware of your senses, focusing on your breath and relaxing your muscles.
  • Vent your thoughts and feelings: Write in a journal or talk to a friend or therapist—just don’t bottle up your emotions. Talking about stress is the best way to release it.
  • Do enjoyable activities: Don’t make life “all work and no play.” Have hobbies, go on adventures, take care of yourself.
  • Adopt healthy habits: Eat well and limit alcohol for healthy well-being.
  • Avoid what works you up: If you know which situations bring stress, try to avoid them and say “no” when you can.

Making big changes in a routine is always tough, but combating stress means taking a good, hard look at how we spend our time and energy. We often think to check in with our friends, our kids, and even our Facebook account. But when’s the last time you checked in with yourself?

If you are in need of a reality check, Teladoc will guide you.** With licensed counselors and therapists here seven days a week, you don’t have to tackle stress alone.

References

*http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/index.aspx

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** Behavioral Health benefit available depending on your plan.

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