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Lehigh Valley Children's Hospital

Stress

Each of us experiences stress and stressful situations on a regular basis. However, living in a constant state of stress can lead to serious health problems, like depression or high blood pressure. Learn how you can help manage stress.

If you’re like most people, stress is very much a part of your day. Pressures from work, school or family responsibilities can really take a toll. Even vacations may not be stress-free. If stress is interfering with your ability to function on the job, at home, at school or with others, it may be time to get help.

In times of danger, your body goes into “fight or flight” mode – the body releases cortisol and adrenaline to prepare for lifesaving physical action. It’s a basic survival mechanism that goes back to humankind’s earliest days.

Stress isn’t all bad; it’s what gets you through that big presentation, holiday dinner or final exam. Too much stress day in and day out, however, is a problem. The more stress-related cortisol produced, the weaker your immune cells become and the more susceptible you are to illness. Persistent stress can lead to mental illness, substance abuse, weight problems and fatigue and can make other diseases worse. 

Signs and symptoms related to stress

Common reactions to stress include:

Try these suggestions to help reduce and control your stress:

  • Stay organized.
  • Learn to set limits.
  • Ask for help.
  • Exercise.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Communicate with friends and family.
  • Spend time enjoying your hobbies.
  • Try relaxation techniques like meditation, creative imagery, visualization, deep-breathing exercises and yoga
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Reduce caffeine intake.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • Learn something new.
  • Talk with someone you trust.

Call your doctor if symptoms of stress have lasted for two weeks or more. If you’ve tried several stress-reduction strategies and are still experiencing debilitating stress, it’s important to get help. Your LVHN primary care provider can refer you to a psychologist or a psychiatrist who will work with you to ease stress.