FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM JULY 16, 2020 • HEALTH • THE QUEENS COURIER 25
Seven steps to manage stress and build resilience
As recent months have demonstrated,
stress is unavoidable. Now more than
ever, it’s important to understand stress
and how we can manage it. While stress
can be benefi cial, too much of it can be
harmful. Th e National Institutes of Health
(NIH) Offi ce of Research on Women’s
Health explains a bit about the science
behind stress, provides several simple
steps that might help reduce it and has a
webpage, https://go.usa.gov/xvydm, with
some resources available to help.
When the body senses a threat (or
stressor), it goes on high alert, and once
the threat passes, the body quickly recovers.
At least that’s the way it’s supposed to
work. Stressors can include health matters,
work, money, family issues, racism
or gender inequality, and regular daily
hassles. With unrelenting or too many
stressors, your body might be on a constant
state of high alert, leading to poor
concentration, bad moods, professional
burnout, and mental and physical health
problems. When stress becomes chronic,
the body cannot return to normal functioning.
Chronic stress can be linked with
health conditions such as heart disease,
high blood pressure, diabetes, depression
Stress aff ects women and men diff erently.
Many conditions associated with stress
- such as post-traumatic stress disorder,
depression and anxiety - are more common
in women than men.
Beyond sex and gender diff erences,
there are individual diff erences, too. Some
people are more resilient than others.
Stress aff ects them less or more temporarily,
and they might even perform better
under stress. “Th ere’s a saying, ‘It’s not
how far you fall; it’s how high you bounce.’
For those of us who don’t bounce back so
easily, there’s good news. Resilience, to
some extent, can be learned and there are
some simple, practical things that people
can do that may make a noticeable difference,”
says Dr. Janine Austin Clayton,
Director of the NIH Offi ce of Research
on Women’s Health. Clayton explains that
some resilient people might also develop a
greater appreciation for their lives, family,
friends or other matters aft er stress.
Stress management and resilience
building are particularly important to the
health of women. Here are several tips to
help women as well as men:
Recognize and counter signs of stress.
Your body sends signals that it’s stressed,
including diffi culty concentrating, headaches,
cold hands, tight muscles, a nervous
stomach, clenched teeth, feeling on
edge, fi dgety, irritable or withdrawn.
Knowing how your body communicates
can help you deal with stressful moments.
Learn to not only recognize but also to
name these feelings, either to oneself or
to a friend. Th en, take action to counter
their eff ects. For example, deep breathing,
stretching, going for a walk, writing
down your thoughts and taking quiet time
to focus can help induce relaxation and
Take time for yourself. Make taking
care of yourself a daily routine. It’s not
selfi sh or self-indulgent - and it might
require saying “no” to requests or prioritizing
yourself along with your responsibilities.
Start with small changes in your
routine to help build resilience to stressful
circumstances. Work in time to exercise,
eat healthy foods, participate in relaxing
activities and sleep. In fact, including a
regimen of exercise, which for some may
include yoga or meditation, can be very
important when feeling stressed. Also,
take time to notice the “good minutes”
in each day or to do something that you
enjoy, such as reading a book or listening
to music, which can be a way to shift your
attention and focus on the positive rather
than the negative.
Try new routines. From scheduling
baths and bedtimes to blocking off time
to plan and prioritize tasks, additional
structure can provide a daily framework
that allows you to attune to your
body’s signals. Th en, you can take steps
to potentially manage stress earlier than
you once did.
Stay connected and make new friends.
Stay in touch with family, friends and
groups in your life - technology makes
this easier than ever. Having or being
a person to talk with can be reassuring
and calming. Using video features can
enhance the connection in telecommunication
or online communications for
See problems through a diff erent lens.
Experts call changing the way we think
about and respond to stress “reframing.”
View sitting in traffi c or around the house
as an opportunity to enjoy music, podcasts
or pleasant views. Reduce anger in
response to rude or aggressive behavior
by imagining what might be happening
in that person’s life. Keeping situations in
perspective is an important way to boost
stress resilience. Other steps include positive
thinking and creating plans before
you begin to resolve problems. You can
practice reframing and get better at it
Seek help with problems. Many people
experience the same day-to-day strains
related to caregiving, relationships, health,
work and money. Look to friends and
family, as appropriate, or other trusted
individuals or resources for tips and information.
Talk to a health professional if stress
is aff ecting your well-being, you feel
you cannot manage the stress you’re
experiencing, or stress has caused you
to engage in or increase substance use.
Seek appropriate care if stress is harming
your relationships or ability to work.
If you have suicidal thoughts, call the
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at
1-800-273-TALK (8255). Lifeline chat is
a service available to everyone 24 hours a
day, 7 days a week. In addition, if you need
help locating a mental health provider,
the Substance Abuse and Mental Health
Services Administration (SAMHSA)
off ers a site that can assist you at https://
fi ndtreatment.samhsa.gov. People who
have experienced traumatic stress (directly
or indirectly experiencing life-threatening
and dangerous events) should fi nd
a treatment provider who practices trauma
informed care - see https://go.usa.
gov/xvydm for details. Additionally, in
times of disasters and other sorts of emergencies,
the National Disaster Distress
Helpline (Call 1-800-985-5990 or text
“TALKWITHUS” to 66746) can provide
crisis counseling, emotional support and
referrals to care related to disasters and
public health emergencies.
Recognizing individual signals of a
body’s stress responses and learning to
respond to those signals in new ways can
help build the emotional, intellectual and
physical strength that comprise resilience,
which can help you tackle future stressors.