Stress is a Mess: How to Manage It

When faced with chronic stress, our health suffers. Here are some ways we can manage it.

How to Keep Stress From Running Your Life

Life comes with plenty of ups and downs, but for many people, stress is a constant. Stress can take a toll on our bodies and minds. It’s important to find balance in the hectic day-to-day in order to live healthier lives. Mainers often combat their stress by heading out into the great outdoors, but what else can you do to manage it?

What is Stress?

Stress is good for a person when a short-term situation warrants it. It is simply an innate physiological reaction that protects the body when it feels like it’s under attack. Cortisol is a hormone that gets released into the body when certain situations arise. It helped our ancestors when they were in life-threatening circumstances.
This inherent response only becomes an issue when it is chronic. This triggers a constant physical response, telling the body to be on high alert all of the time. If your body thinks it’s in a fight-or-flight situation on a daily basis, it can be detrimental for overall health and wellbeing.

Symptoms of Stress

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • High blood pressure
  • Muscle tension
  • Weakened immune system

The Reason for Stress

American culture puts a strong emphasis on chasing dreams and working hard to do so. With this general consensus of “do more and rest less,” people are getting fewer hours of sleep, using fewer vacation days, and getting sick more often. Working hard can be hard on the human body. Taking breaks and resting can help diminish chronic stress.

How to Manage Stress

There is no one way to combat stress. But the best actions a person can take to help mitigate feeling overwhelmed starts with three things: 
  1. Get a good night’s sleep.
  2. Exercise for 30 minutes at least 4 times a week.
  3. Eat healthy and wholesome foods.

Making these components a priority in daily life can help a person keep their stress levels in check. These three actions can help regulate mood and keep energy levels high. Reducing the consumption of nicotine and alcohol will also contribute to a happier demeanor. There are numerous things you can implement in your daily life to help you feel more balanced. 
  • Go for a hike
  • Read a book
  • Have a meaningful conversation with a loved one
  • Meditate
  • Listen to relaxing music
  • Incorporate yoga into your exercise routine
  • Practice gratitude

Dr. Erin Piontek, a family medicine practitioner at Northern Light Mercy Yarmouth Primary Care, highlights the importance of stress management, “Stress is a normal part of life, but it can be a serious issue for our health. Figuring out how to best manage it may be a challenge—but it’s one worth tackling.” By implementing short and useful techniques into daily life a person’s stress levels can fall significantly. 
Mainers deserve a carefree and happy life. If you find yourself stressed and experience physical symptoms, consider finding a primary care provider with Northern Light Health. You can rest easy knowing that at Northern Light Mercy Primary Care, you’ll be receiving the utmost care for physicals, vaccines, preventative care, and same-day sick visits. Mainers can be cared for at any of our six convenient locations around Portland, Windham, and Yarmouth. Northern Light Mercy connects you with our larger organization of health care providers and resources.
In addition to receiving high quality primary care, Mercy’s health centers also offer specialty care, walk-in care, and integrated diabetes and behavioral care. We provide customized care for all your healthcare needs. For more information visit