Stress refers to how your brain and body responds to changes and challenges. Stress can be helpful by keeping you alert, motivated, and ready to avoid danger, but chronic stress can have a negative effect on your mind and body, especially when it is not managed properly.
You can improve your overall well-being by learning to identify the signs and symptoms of stress, understanding how it affects your health, and finding constructive ways to manage it.
Symptoms of Stress
Physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms of stress can include:
- Headaches, body pains, stomach problems, and racing heartbeat.
- Difficulty sleeping or having nightmares.
- Difficulty concentrating and making decisions.
- Feelings of fear, anger, sadness, worry, helplessness, or frustration.
- Worsening of chronic and mental health conditions.
- Changes in appetite, energy, desires, and interests.
- Increased use of tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs.
Healthy ways to manage stress
Below are ways that you can help yourself, your loved ones, and others manage stress:
- Eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, and get quality sleep.
- Avoid alcohol and substance use.
- Learn how to say “no” to things you do not want or need to do.
- Recognize the signs and symptoms of your body’s response to stress and plan how to cope with them.
- Connect with others. Keep in touch with people who can provide emotional support and practical help.
- Talk to your doctor or healthcare professional about stress. Start the conversation and get proper care for existing or new health problems.
This National Institutes of Mental Health fact sheet provides more information about stress and tips for healthy stress management.
Your Employee Assistance Program is Here to Help
If you or someone you care about are having trouble managing stress, your Component Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can help. Your EAP provides both you and your eligible household members with free and confidential support for a wide array of personal challenges and can help you develop a plan to manage the stress in your life. EAP assistance is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For more information, contact your Component EAP, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.