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Are You Stressed? (Part 1)

Are You Stressed? (Part 1)

This is part 1 out of 2 of our "Are You Stressed?" blog series for Stress Awareness Month. Check here later this month for foods, activities, and smartphone apps to help you reduce stress! 

Let’s talk about an uncomfortable word – stress! We all experience stress in some form throughout life, but we may not realize how it can negatively impact our health or know how to reduce it.

April is Stress Awareness Month, pegged by the nonprofit Health Resource Network nearly 30 years ago as a time to spread the word about the dangers of stress, coping strategies, and harmful misconceptions of stress.

Medically speaking, what is stress?

You probably know what stress feels like, but might not know its medical definition. The Cleveland Clinic defines stress as, “a normal reaction the body has when changes occur, resulting in physical, emotional and intellectual responses.”

Stress can work to our benefit, like keeping us alert during a challenging task or helping us avoid a dangerous situation. But, stress can become a problem when it continues for long periods of time or frequently.

How can long-term stress harm me?

If you experience long-term (chronic) stress, you may begin to notice some physical symptoms. These symptoms can include:

  • Aches and pains
  • Chest pain or heart racing
  • Exhaustion, difficulty falling asleep or irregular sleep patterns
  • Headaches and/or migraines
  • High blood pressure
  • Jaw clenching, causing muscle tension or discomfort
  • Stomach or digestive problems
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Weakened immune system

Chronic stress can also lead to unhealthy actions or behaviors, including (but not limited to):

  • Binge drinking
  • Smoking and/or using drugs
  • Overeating or undereating
  • Compulsive behaviors like shopping, internet browsing or gambling

Resources

Valley Health offers a wide variety of wellness and fitness services that are essential to healthy living. Classes including yoga, cycling, cardio and more can significantly help lower stress!

Valley Health Wellness & Fitness Center I Winchester

Hampshire Wellness & Fitness Center I Romney

Valley Health Wellness & Fitness I Front Royal

Valley Health Wellness & Fitness I Woodstock

Valley Health Wellness & Fitness I Luray

Valley Health Physical Rehabilitation & Fitness I Berkeley Springs

Counseling with a mental health professional is another excellent choice for learning stress management and coping. Valley Health’s Outpatient Behavioral Health Services in Winchester and Woodstock provide stabilization and support for individuals 18 and older using an integrated psychiatric and medical approach to mental health and wellness.

Valley Health I Outpatient Behavioral Health Services