Written by Sook Yee Yeung, LCSW
Mental Health is often negatively associated, stigmatized, and misconstrued—this can be particularly true in Asian communities. It is important to understand that our mental health is vital in maintaining our overall health. When we neglect to do so, we may fall prey to daily stressors, have difficulty coping, and can even become physically ill.
How does stress and anxiety affect your body?
When we are faced with stressful situations and do not know how to cope in healthy ways, our bodies may react with a wide array of negative symptoms. These can be physical—like headaches, dizziness, heart pounding, sweating, frequent urination or diarrhea, shortness of breath, poor sleep, tremors, twitches and muscle tension.
There are, of course, a range of emotional symptoms as well, including being easily annoyed or irritated, unable to sit still, trouble relaxing, feeling tense and jumpy, unable to stop worrying, and difficulty concentrating.
How can I manage stress and anxiety?
Everyone deals with stress, and many people live with anxiety. There are many practical ways that we can improve the way we cope. Here are 5 things you can incorporate into your daily life to best manage stress and anxiety.
1. Have a regular to daily exercise routine. Exercise is a huge stress reliever and mood booster. Try walking, jogging or even dancing for 30 minutes a week for a start.
2. Get Enough Sleep. A lot of times when we are stressed, our body is actually telling us that we need more rest and sleep.
3. Eat well-balanced meals. Foods that are high in fats and sugars often leave us feeling lethargic and less able to deal with stress. Also consider limiting alcohol and caffeine intake. Alcohol and caffeine can greatly impact our sleep cycle, which in turn can heighten our fatigue and stress levels. They can also aggravate symptoms of anxiety and trigger panic attacks.
4. Take a time-out. You can do this through meditation, yoga, acupuncture, and massage therapy. These activities will help your body to produce endorphins—a chemical which our bodies produce as a natural painkiller.
5. Talk to someone. Talking with trusted family members and friends about your stress and anxiety can help a great deal to relieve stress. It is also helpful to speak with your medical doctor or a therapist if professional help is needed. If you are a patient of the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center, we have licensed professionals who can provide you with the right treatment, which could include medication and/or counseling. Call us to make an appointment at (212) 941-2213.
Written by Sook Yee Yeung, LCSW, is a New York State-Licensed Clinical Social Worker with the Mental Health Bridge Program at Charles B. Wang Community Center. She provides mental health related treatment and services.