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Addressing Chronic Stress

Stress can push us to be more productive, focused and alert. Chronic stress, however, can be harmful. When we are chronically stressed, our bodies and minds are trying to operate at an unsustainable level for longer than is healthy. This leads to our blood stream being flooded with hormones including cortisol and adrenaline. Over time, these hormones increase blood pressure, cause weight gain, affect our immune system, and impact our ability to think logically. They also increase feelings of anxiety and depression.

We are living in a time when most of us are under very high amounts of stress, but we can do something about it.

Practice Self-care: When experiencing high levels of stress, getting adequate sleep, connecting with your social support network, avoiding harmful substances, and eating well have all repeatedly been proven to be very helpful in bringing down levels of psychological and physical stress. 

Stay active: Exercising and incorporating physical activity into your daily routine has been proven to reduce stress; and getting outdoors to enjoy nature is incredibly beneficial.

Seek professional help: Don’t let stigma get in the way; seeking help from a psychotherapist, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, licensed clinical social worker, or marriage and family therapist to treat mental health concerns is not much different than using a personal trainer to improve fitness. In addition to local mental health services, the Disaster Distress Hotline provides 24/7 crisis counseling: call 800.985.5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained counselor. 

If you find you are not functioning well at work or school, if your relationships are suffering, if your sleep is disrupted, or if you are experiencing feelings of depression or anxiety most of the time, it’s time to talk to your health care provider about getting help. It takes strength to ask for help and know when to access available resources.

Board-certified physiatrist Dr. Tracy Protell provides expert care through Barton Health. If you or your family need support, ask your provider for a referral to a behavioral health specialist or visit BartonHealth.org/BehavioralHealth for resources that can help.