Love shouldn’t hurt – ever

Stress, anxiety and health
In today’s world, we hear a lot about anxiety and stress. It’s really not a new phenomenon. For years, farmers have stressed over the weather and their crops, workers stressed over deadlines and job requirements, students stressed over tests and classwork, and I think every mom has stressed over their children. And all that stress gives us anxiety. Maybe it seems so prevalent because we are more vocal about how we are feeling now. And we are so involved and busy with so many different things, it feels like we have more stress than usual. So how can we handle the stress and not fall apart?

Whether your stress and anxiety are caused by an outside factor mentioned above or if it’s caused by an abusive relationship, or by an abusive incident that happened to you, it’s important to work on those feelings so they don’t affect your health and well-being.

What are some signs of anxiety and stress affecting your health? Do you find yourself always feeling tense or unable to relax? Do you have a sense of dread? Do you feel unable to stop worrying about things? Do you seek constant assurance from others or worry that others are upset with you? Do you feel depressed? Do you feel disconnected? Those are all effects of anxiety. There have been studies that show that experiencing anxiety can increase your risk of developing health issues such as diabetes, stomach ulcers and heart problems. If you are experiencing physical symptoms and have been feeling anxious and stressed, a visit to your primary physician may be recommended.

Other signs that you may be experiencing debilitating anxiety is having a difficult time coping with day-to-day life. This includes things such as taking care of your personal hygiene, showing up to your job and maintaining a quality job performance, maintaining friendships and not becoming reclusive, and simply being able to rest and enjoy down time. If you feel you may be experiencing anxiety to the point you are experiencing difficulties, first reach out to your physician to rule out medical issues. The Mayo Clinic also lists some tips to help cope with anxiety:

1) Get physically active. Exercise can be a great stress reducer. Start slowly and gradually increase. Just taking a leisurely walk can lift your mood.
2) Avoid alcohol and drugs. Those substances just mask the issues and can worsen anxiety.
3) Reduce caffeine as it can also worsen anxiety.
4) Try some relaxation techniques such as meditation and visualization. Use calming music.
5) Get enough sleep. Getting quality sleep can vastly improve your mental and physical health.
6) Eat a healthy diet. Avoid junk foods and increase vegetables and fruits.
7) Identify things that trigger your anxious feelings and develop a coping strategy and practice how you will deal with the thing that is triggering before it happens.
8) Try journaling. It sometimes helps to be able to get your feelings out even if you never share them.
9) Stay social with family and friends. Don’t isolate yourself.
10) Utilize your support system. Everyone needs a safe person to talk to about their feelings. Surround yourself with those who truly care. Take advantage of support groups in your area.

Crisis Services of North Alabama Jackson County office offers free and confidential services to survivors of intimate partner violence and sexual assault. If you are dealing with anxiety and stress that is related to an abusive relationship or event, we are here to help. You may contact our office at 256.574.5826 for an appointment. We also offer a 24/7 HELPline where you can speak with a crisis counselor at 256.716.1000. You don’t have to go through it alone.

-Teresia Smith

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