How to reduce stress in the new school year

Karl Lenser, UALR's new employee wellness coordinator, works with Marie Sandusky, UALR's director of health services.

Stress is something that all of us endure and would like to reduce as much as possible. Major stressors can come from financial woes, relationship problems, employment issues, and daily time/deadline pressures. 

Minor stressors such as traffic jams or waiting for extended periods of time prior to checking out at the grocery store can eventually build up to major stressors if one continually perceives  these “molehills” as “mountains.” So why stress about stress? 

Excessive, unmanaged stress can lead to a variety of physiological responses that increase chances for cardiovascular disease. Stress will increase blood pressure and heart rate and will promote an increase in glucose to the bloodstream. These responses can lead to a premature weakening of blood vessels and can overload the heart muscle. Individuals who have a strong respiratory and circulatory system are much more resistant to the above-mentioned physiological trauma that can be caused by excessive stress. 

Excessive stress can also lead to emotional and psychological problems such as depression and anxiety in addition to a weakening of the immune system. It can also negatively impact relationships and cause individuals to seek drugs and alcohol as a way to cope.

Stress is a powerful risk factor that needs to be managed and controlled. It is with us every day. We can’t eliminate it, but through proper management techniques, excessive stress can be kept under control. Here are a few ways that can help you reduce the stress in your life.

Simple tips for stress reduction:

  • Simplify, simplify, simplify… Spend less and give more. 
  • Plan ahead when making a trip. Anticipate traffic congestion. Leave for your destination a few minutes early.
  • Exercise daily. It is one of the least expensive and effective stress reducers!
  • Get organized at home and at work. An uncluttered house and office leads to efficiency and less stress.
  • Pace yourself. Take a few moments every day to slow down and relax.
  • Delegate, delegate, and delegate. You can’t do it all by yourself.
  • Sleep: Get 7-8 hours every night, and your body and mind will be in better shape to handle the stressors that arise daily.
  • Eat a balanced and healthy diet that is low in fat and high in complex carbohydrates (whole grains, fruits, vegetables).
  • Always have a “Plan B.”  Improvise when necessary. Be flexible.
  • Book a massage chair appointment in our Wellness Center.
  • Prioritize your time. Set goals and deadlines. Make lists. Don’t trust your memory.
  • Learn to say NO!

This special column on healthy living was written by Campus Wellness Coordinator Karl Lenser. 

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