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A Message from Dr. Stephen Kindred –
Assistant Vice President, Corporate Medical
Let’s face it. You will likely be challenged with some level of stress each day. Stress is a part of our everyday life and a well-maintained body is designed to deal with it. Rather than trying to eliminate stress, it is important to learn how to better manage stress.
Stress management gives you a range of tools to reset your body’s alarm system. Without stress management, your body is often on high alert. Over time, a high level of stress can lead to serious health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and depression. Practicing stress management techniques can help you curb the negative impacts on your health, relationships and quality of life.
In July 2011, State Farm introduced the iCanRelax Health Coaching program for stress management to all employees. This flexible program is designed to help reduce the negative effects of stress, customized to the participant’s preferences and goals. A personal health coach helps identify stress triggers and develop strategies to overcome them.
Health Coaching turned out to be the right prescription for Shauntona, Benefits Analyst in Total Rewards. She originally signed up for the iCanChange weight management program with the intent to lose 40+ pounds. “After a few months with no measurable weight loss, my health coach suggested I was focusing on the wrong program,” says Shauntona. “I was under an enormous amount of stress, both at work and home, which impacted my ability to make the changes needed to become thinner and healthier. So, my coach decided to help me using the iCanRelax program instead.”
Shauntona was able to keep the same coach even though she changed programs. She and her coach set small goals together and her coach followed-up to make sure she stayed on target by sending her articles, directing her to free stress management materials through the LifeWorks Employee Assistance & Worklife Program, and sending her emails to let her know she was thinking about Shauntona.
“As a result of iCanRelax, I am in a much happier place today,” adds Shauntona. “Since starting the program, I have learned skills that help when I begin to feel overwhelmed, like doing deep breathing exercises and quick meditations at my desk. I am able to recognize my stressors and react with the coping skills my coach has taught me. I am sleeping and eating better, and have more energy! A pleasant side effect of my stress coaching is that I am now starting to focus on my weight. I have lost 16 pounds since the beginning of 2012. I love my health coach!”
If health coaching is not readily available in your community, consider these ten stress reducing tips from the American Heart Association to get a jump start:
- Socialize with family and friends.
A daily dose of friendship is great medicine. Call or blog with your friends and family to share your feelings, hopes and joys.
- Engage in daily physical activity.
Regular exercise relieves mental and physical tension. Break up your day with a walk outside or at the mall.
- Accept the things you cannot change.
Don't say, "I'm too old." You can still learn new things, work toward a goal, and help others do the same.
- Remember to laugh.
The old adage, “laughter is the best medicine,” may just hold true. Laughter makes you feel good, so don't be afraid to laugh out loud at a joke, a funny movie or a comic strip, even when you're alone.
- Give up the bad habits.
Too much alcohol, cigarettes or caffeine can increase stress. If you smoke, decide to quit now with the help of the Quit For Life® tobacco cessation program.
- Slow down.
Try to "pace" instead of "race." Plan ahead and allow enough time to get the most important things done.
- Get enough sleep.
Try to get six to eight hours of sleep each night. Physical activity may improve the quality of sleep.
- Get organized.
Use "to do" lists to help you focus on your most important tasks. Approach big tasks one step at a time.
- Practice giving back.
Volunteer your time or return a favor to a friend. Helping others helps you!
- Try not to worry.
The world won't end if your grass isn't mowed or your kitchen isn't cleaned. You may need to do these things, but today might not be the right time for you.
Decreasing stress enables you to improve your health and your ability to focus on what’s important. You can relax. Give it a try today!
Take the first step! Identify Your Sources of Stress with a little help from Mayo Clinic.
Monitor your stress with the Stress Screener from Mental Health America.
Learn about the unique impacts of stress on people living with diabetes in this article from the American Diabetes Association.
Watch this slideshow from MedicineNet.com for information on stress-fighting foods.