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How you handle stress is a huge factor in the rest of your health as well as your overall quality of life. Poor stress management can make you feel under the weather, exacerbate conditions you already have, interrupt your sleep and cause you to have a shorter fuse in dealing with people or issues and feeling overwhelmed when dealing with problems.

If it goes on long enough, your brain is exposed to cortisol, which can weaken your immune system as well. The National Association of Mental Illness talked about stress, what to watch out for and how you can handle this normal part of life in a healthy way.

Signs of stress

Like other conditions, stress can cause physical symptoms, including headaches, difficulty sleeping, jaw pain, appetite changes, frequent mood swings, having difficulty concentrating and feeling overwhelmed and unable to deal with difficulties that come your way.

Triggers for stress

Stress is a part of everyday life, so it’s important to know where it is likely to come from in your life. Your job, family relationships, financial worries, school, health concerns, not getting enough sleep and not eating well can all lead to stress, which, while it not be overwhelming at first, can become that way if not handled well. On top of this stress, other life events can make you even more vulnerable, such as experiencing a major life change (moving, the death of a loved one, starting a new job, having a child, getting married), feeling alone or without a social network for support.

Reducing stress

Everyone handles stress a little differently, so don’t feel bad if your friend’s way of coping doesn’t work for you. NAMI suggested starting with accepting your needs — know what your triggers are, avoid them if possible or allow time and energy to handle them. Schedule your days so you have time to take breaks as needed, you’re getting enough sleep, you have time for hobbies or reading or other self-care; exercise; and eat well. Lean on your support network and consider talking to a therapist or support group. Be careful not to self-medicate with alcohol and drugs.

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