Tuesday, October 21, 2008

When to Seek Help For Stress

For some of us, stress is a condition that we cannot tackle alone. If you are a mom who has tried to manage your stress alone but to no avail, it may be time to seek help from an outside source. Here are a few suggestions to help with that decision.

Stress can affect our physical body. Too much stress can lead to symptoms like hair loss, headaches, weight loss or weight gain, ulcers, and depressive disorders. All of these symptoms can be signs of conditions other than stress, but if you have been in otherwise good health before they showed up, there is a good chance that stress may be the cause.

Examine your daily life. What are the pressures you face each day? Stress on the job can spill over into family life. The threat of downsizing or loss of a job due to poor economic conditions can cause problems at home to get blown out of proportion. Financial losses in the stock market combined with decreasing home values are wreaking havoc with our emotions.

See a medical doctor if your physical body has shown signs of stress overload. Be sure to tell your doctor when the symptoms started and their intensity. The more information you can provide to your doctor, the better chance of an accurate diagnosis. Holding back anything because of embarrassment is not wise.

Get a full physical exam each year. This will give your doctor a baseline to work from when assessing new problems. Whatever his diagnosis, comply as fully as you can. It’s the difference between getting well or getting worse.

Stress builds up when there is no outlet for the pressure. Moms that have no one to confide in about things going on in their lives could use the help of a professional counselor. A counselor will listen as you speak and offer coping suggestions and solutions.

Many employers offer employee assistance programs (EAP) that allow employees to see counselors for little or no cost. The human resources officer would have information about that. These programs are confidential.

There are clinical psychiatrists and psychologists who can help, whether the problem is related to a mental or chemical breakdown in the brain or situations outside your control. Marriage counseling can help you and your spouse if this is the source of your stress. Group counseling can help moms whose stress has led to unhealthy addictions like smoking, drinking, or overeating.

If your weight is causing stress, join a fitness center and sign up with a personal trainer – someone who will hold you accountable. Sometimes just having an appointment to work out will get you to the gym. And, of course, getting regular exercise can be enough to combat your high levels of stress. Either way, it sure can’t hurt!

I have turned to exercise during times of extreme stress. When I went through a divorce in my first marriage, I turned to riding my bike, which then turned into many years of riding with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Cycling, literally saved me from depths of depression. Being physically active got me in better shape, which in turn gave me better self-esteem and confidence in myself again.

Getting help is nothing to be ashamed of, I sought professional help when I needed to, and would do it again in a heartbeat if needed. Moms are always helping others, but sometimes they are the ones in need. Doing nothing is the worst solution to the problem of stress.

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