The Wright Center Shares Tips for Stress Awareness Month

Below is a health column written by Dr. Aditi Sharma, a psychiatrist at The Wright Center for Community Health, in which she provides tips to reduce and/or cope with stress in everyday life.

We live in a world where many things can cause us great stress, whether it be things close to home (family, job, finances) or farther afield (politics, wars, global pandemics).

Yes, it’s a lot to cope with, and over time it can be incredibly detrimental to our health, both mentally and physically. So, I’m happy there are awareness campaigns like National Stress Awareness Month.

The annual observance focuses on combating the harmful effects of chronic stress. While stress is an unavoidable part of life and can be experienced in situations that are both positive and negative in prolonged form, it can lead to a variety of health issues, including fatigue, anxiety, depression, headaches, muscle tension, and, when it’s particularly serious, cardiovascular disease.

But with some focus, stress can be managed in relatively simple ways, allowing us to live happier, healthier lives.

Here are a few helpful stress-reduction tips you might consider:

Improve your diet: Eat whole foods, and curtail or completely eliminate stimulants like caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine.

Exercise: Increased exercise can lower your blood pressure, boost your endorphins and just make you feel a whole lot better, whether you join a gym or just go out for a walk or run a few times a week.

Sleep more: Lack of sleep and the ensuing fatigue can lead to a plunge in overall well-being and eventually lead to increased anxiety and depression, so it’s important to establish a calming vibe every night before you go to bed – and to curtail your screen time significantly.

Relax: In our go-go-go lives, simply taking time to relax can be difficult, but a daily regimen that includes meditation or mindfulness – or good, old-fashioned daydreaming – can substantially decrease stress levels.

Prioritize your schedule: Cramming too much stuff into a day inevitably causes stress, so check off the things that need to be done before pursuing the smaller-scale items.

Do something fun: Make time for enjoyable activities, such as hobbies, movies, concerts, dinners with friends, sporting events – really anything that puts you in a good mood.

Talk to someone: Sometimes, the best de-stressor is just talking about your problems with a trusted family member, friend, colleague, or licensed professional therapist.

Speaking of therapy, here at The Wright Center, stress prevention is a significant component of our behavioral health services for adults, children, and adolescents. Our first-rate team of experts can help you identify the causes of behavioral issues and provide solutions via comprehensive therapy services, psychological assessments, and psychiatric care. We also provide specialty services for children with severe mental illness as well as those who have experienced abuse or violence.

Managing chronic stress is also a core mission of our Lifestyle Medicine practice, which works with individuals and families to improve their health and quality of life through lifestyle modifications such as stress relief techniques, eliminating tobacco use, improving diet, increasing physical activity, strengthening personal relationships and connections, and adjusting sleep habits. Our team is trained in conventional and lifestyle medicine and can work with you to create a personalized lifestyle self-care plan that’s sustainable for the long haul.

I can confidently say that if you proactively work to reduce your stress levels, eventually, you’ll feel better mentally, physically, and emotionally. And you’ll improve your overall health – what could be better than that?

Aditi Sharma, M.D., MPH, is a psychiatrist at The Wright Center for Community Health Scranton Practice. An alumna of The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education Psychiatry Residency, she treats adults experiencing depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions, providing consultations and evaluations to develop personalized behavioral health and medicinal care plans.